I know this is a very sensitive subject. And I did not want to hear anything related until I got 30. But trust me, how you dress in the office does make a difference.
I’ve seen many different things in my career. In game companies, people might walk around the office barefoot. When I was at a bank my supervisor did not wear shoes either. Fortunately, he had socks on though. A “normal” employee in IT wore a suit every single day although he didn’t have to. Eventually, he was elected to the works council and everybody respected him.
It’s definitely not necessary to wear a suit as a software developer every single day. John Sonmez recommends wearing two levels higher than your current position. That’s a bit too much in my opinion, especially when you’re in a small startup where two levels up might be the head of the company who maybe does indeed wear a suit every day.
Nevertheless, there are two main reasons why you should care about how you dress in the morning.
First: Your coworkers. Do you want to see them all running around barefoot? Do you even want to see sandals? At least wear your sneakers with a pair of jeans (or shorts if it’s too hot) and a t-shirt. Which brings me to another subject, I’d like to touch on briefly: Hygiene. Have your shower in the morning or at least in the night before, do your hair and apply some deodorant. Pleasant clothing goes hand in hand with good hygiene. Wearing sandals barefoot during the hot summer months can lead to smells nobody wants to experience in the office. Believe me, your coworkers might never talk about it, but they do notice.
A guy from marketing (I know, they are evil, but still…) tells me this every now and then and although this is not very nice behavior, unfortunately, I have to admit he is right. And it means he’s not the only one who notices that. Please people, let’s erase the stereotype of the dirty and smelly developer once and for all.
Second: Respect. People will treat you differently when you wear a shirt or have a well-groomed appearance. I know that the rebel in you does not like that fact at all, but this is the absolute truth. I also love my Zelda t-shirt and of course, it’s great when coworkers recognize it for the first time, but the excitement for a t-shirt only lasts a few seconds. The respect for a person that dresses quite nicely and also knows how to write software, in turn, lasts a lot longer and it may lead to new opportunities – if you want new opportunities.
But if you don’t care about all that, then don’t do it. There’s nothing wrong with being true to yourself and keep coding for the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong. I also want to code all day long. It’s the part of my job I enjoy the most. But I also like to be seen as a professional software developer that also knows how to dress and has some well developed social skills. You can be the exception to the rule, and this feels pretty good. Also, you’re getting used to this kind of clothes which comes in quite handy in other situations of your life as well.