Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/11/04/otto_clothes_letters/

Geeks agree - 'We need to dress better'

Thanks, Otto

By Otto Z. Stern

Posted in Bootnotes, 4th November 2005 20:34 GMT

Stern response I've been so pleased with the reaction to my piece last month entitled CEOs should follow NBA and make geeks wear real clothes. It's very rewarding to have your public justify insightful positions by heaping praise.

I'll admit that not everyone saw the raw genius in my proposal, and in the spirit of open dialogue, I'll print plenty of these maniacal letters too. But first to the sane folks.

I couldn't agree more with your article relating to geeks clothing habits. I work for an extrememly prominent construction firm in Los Angeles, that caters to high end clients. Now the company dress code is business casual for in office employees, and business dress for employees who go into the field. One of my System Admins is the cousin of the executive VP and therefor believes he can do anything he wants, (which of course explains multiple problems in and of itself) His dress ethics are about equal to a hippie in Haight-Ashbury. His favorite shirt is a stained shirt from a sushi restaurant that represents a game of space invaders, which he wears at least three times a week with the baggiest, most pockets I have ever been witness to cargo pants.

Around the office, albeit he is violating the dress code it is sort of ok, because most of the time he is in his office since he likes noone and so he isn't really all that visible, but he often has to go to our job sites to perform site maintenance and of course on the days that he does, he certainly does not change his attire. Our clients who hire our company on our prefessionalism see this guy and instantly lose respect for him and the company just as I myself have.

It really is quite embarassing to to be in front of an executive explaining something and have this hippie next me wondering what he can stuff his mouth with to get a little more overweight so that his shirt really doesn't fit. Name Supplied

I just read the IT dress code article, and I have to say, it is awesomes. I'm an 18 year old web designer, and I never go into work with cheeto stained jeans. In fact, I don't even eat cheetos for exactly that reason.

I've never understood why people don't like wearing ties. I have a tie and dress clothes and a jacket and it is PIMP.

None of that hippy-crap.

Joe Cooper

Dear Register, I fully agree with your story "CEOs should follow NBA and make geeks wear real clothes". As everyone has learned from the past great century, the true sign of competance is conformity. Only the conformist survives and thrives in our society, and it's high time that everyone started bowing to this notion if we are ever to succeed as nonindustrial capitalists.

However, I think your point is moot. After the tech crash of 2000, I doubt there are many of these "stinking hippy" do-gooder CEO technologists around to allow their employees to dress as they see fit. And I think that is just peachy!

Let's all wear a tie and some nice wingtips as we make our way into the workworld (a scarf for the ladies of course!). Case in point, modern cults usually require their members to wear business casual in the "real" world, and if a starched shirt and snappy tie can make a cultist look normal and competent, then just think of the effect on a socially vunerable nerd!

Case Closed!

Yours in Pressed Slacks, Neil Morman

Hi Otto,

I enjoyed your column about the NBA's new dress code. I work in a publishing company where flip flops, jeans, and ultra tight halter tops have become the standard attire. I wear a conservative mix of skirts, dress pants, blouses and sweaters, and often get the comment, "What are you so dressed up for?" Making a little effort with my appearance helps me brace myself for the day and mentally put my best foot forward (that mixed metaphor probably doesn't work, but you know what I mean). If I look professional, I feel professional and act accordingly, more or less. If I look and feel like a complete slob, my attitude and work are likely to suffer.

So thank you, and I look forward to reading more of your columns.

--Penny Crosman

P.S. Wow, you've provided a lot of information about your prostate. I hope you're feeling better.

A-men on that article! The tech geeks need to dress up or ship out. Start dressing seriously ad maybe they'll be taken seriously. John Wetter

Now we turn to the less sensible members of the Reg audience who had the audacity to disagree with me. Complete flames first, of course.

total. fucking. hard-assed. twit. anon

To the point. Have to like that.

Mr. Stern, I am curious as to how you are able to keep your tie from getting stuck in the action of your automatic rifle. Also, what do you use to remove cosmolene and solvent stains from your smashing suit? Blake Davis

Thanks for asking, Blake. Well, I use a nicely pressed vest to keep my tie well tucked. As for the stains, I use a mix of glycerin and vaseline that I boil for several hours in a tub full of pig lard. I let the mixture cool and harden and then apply a small amount of it to an elephant-hair brush. After a few strokes, just about anything cleans up real nice. I'll be selling this creation called "Otto's Owesome Oliviator" on the QVC in the coming weeks. Can I put you down for a case or two?

Screw this guy. Clothes do not make the man. I consider it part of my compensation package when I don't have to dress like every other idiot in the company. Suits & ties are meant to convey respect for a person that otherwise would not deserve it. Chad

WHAT IS WRONG with you? Maybe you forgot your roots or maybe you never had any and you’re pissed that some nerds beat the shit out business men suit wearing assholes at their own game. No I know you’re pissed because you’re some corporate whore and can't reach the next step up the latter even though you had sex with everyone in the office. Look the whole IT industry is based upon constant change and making things easier. Let go of the past and embrace the future. REMEMBER "BIG BLUE" you can't get fire as long as you come in a white shirt and tie and it take 3 ½ years to ship an empty box....but who won that one I believe it was guys in sandals and garages. And said things like why are we having a meeting why don’t we just do for Christ sakes. The "Suits" are as for management who don't get it. You say out source to India HA HA HA go right a head I do believe the phase is "Thank you Come Again".

It was tried and failed because some management numbers cruncher was like hey we can cut our budget we just sacrifice quality. If you want corporate Yes men then you got your men, but if you want some to tell you NO restricting administrative is a good thing then suck it up and fork over the cash. The reason IT guys dress the way we do is because we up all hours of the night and don't sleep because that’s when the best ideas come. If you think because you throw out a few catch phases and Acronyms and call yourself a tech then all your really good for is doing Sales, PR, and Brown Noising and leave the work to real techs. Jean, T-shirts, and Sneakers are comfortable wear them and find out. Plus when we crawling under desks to hook up wires why should I ruin a nice pair of pants for that?

Beside why should management really care what we are wearing our job is to make sure you can work and to figure out ways to make it easier for suits. Just stick to Ooo Pretty graph and can we have a button that does this...we'll do the rest for you. Silly Suit real work is done by people that make money and by the one who decide how it should be spent. Go run and play now, I’m sure there is an ass that needs kissing. Look the days of having to wear crap that unnecceary and pointless are over. Why do you want to take a step back in the evolutionairy standards. J Barret

An interesting idea...maybe we should have geeks dress in military style uniforms with knee-high black boots and goose-step around the data centre as well...On a more serious note, if I may, a business casual dress code will do nothing to help the stank and stains coming from the uber-geek squad...If that's what you want to eliminate perhaps installing a hose at the office is the solution...

Cheers, Robert Rose

Kindly crank up your time machine and scoot back to the Victorian era, where should feel right at home. It has taken a lifetime of resistance to get to this point of relaxed clothing being acceptable. I am sure you will feel far more at home in a society where class consciousness rules.

My attitude towards people in suits & ties is an assumption that they have dressed that way in order to fool me into a false sense of security - it is the badge of thieves & con-artists. Regards, Tom McAnally

Apparently Otto ran out of puppies to strangle, so he has to insult his readers to orgasm.

Peter Hessler

The reason the NBA can do that is because they are a unified organization. If a player doesn't like the dress attire, what other National Basketbal Association can they join?


However with geeks, we can take our 'shiznit' elsewhere. It would take IBM and Microsoft and SUN and Amazon and EBAY and a million other companies to organize and develop standards that everyone can agree upon. And the very fact that some companies can't even follow W3C standards proves it will never happen.

So allow me to give you another alternative: relax. Mellow the fuck out! Your geeks aren't your face to the world unlike the NBA. They are the people who are locked away behind security doors, hidden in the basement in a closet with all the servers. So what if they wear sandals to work. Who is going to complain? The CPU? The server farm?! When the geek becomes your front man, then this SHOULD be expected. I agree 100%! But until the geek IS your frontman, you need to take a valium, smoke a bowl or whatever else it takes you relax your ass cheeks enough to allow that corncob to ease out from twixt your buttocks.


Does the Reg plan to make this a regular feature ? Is there going to be a series of articles where authors are allowed to suggest alternative costumes for professions they are not involved in, based on no argument other than the authors personal view of what does or doesn't look nice ?

If so, can I offer my services to pen: "Editors should make technology journalists wear bowler hats and grass skirts"

I think it would be a fabulous look for the new season.

Simon McQueen

Otto- You should take this article about CEO's and IT dess codes and put "1984" in the center of it in big black bold text. You're obviously an inexperienced hack that hasn't worked 16 hours in a suit or inside any industrial complex (yah they have advanced computer systems too).

I can see why you recieve such horrible email. The only thing you are dealing with is the butterfly effect from the fruits of your labor.

It's like the saying - Ask a stupid question, get a stupid ansewer. In your case, you post stupid biased content and get stupid biased emails, just like this one.

Regardless, dress codes are fine, they are in every business. However to suggest that everyone needs to look like a corporate hack is laughable. The thing you're missing - is that these NBA players are in the media - IT workers are in the closests and corners saving business from itself. Hopefully you know what 1984 is because thats where ideas like this will take us. Maybe an even better idea would be corporate issued uniforms. I just hope my company chooses orange jump suits instead of the penquin ones.

Ryan R

Get a clue. Many, if not most, of the people you're trying to get into monkey suits would sooner quit and go into business for themselves. Policy makers, if they are in touch with their employees, know this. As for the idea of developers in suits selling more software, when's the last time you saw a developer, movies and office time aside? These guys don't get away with ignoring the dress code just because they know computers. They get away with it because the public simply doesn't see them. I would wager that most of them like it that way to. I know I do.

Let the guys who don't mind business suits put them on and deal with the clueless masses. Give me my torn blue jeans and tee shirt any time. The public doesn't see me and I don't see them. All I need to be able to do is fix the computers, not deal with people, so why in the world would I want to put on anything as uncomfortable (not to mention just plain hideous looking) as a tie?

James McDougal

Hi Otto,

Although I can sympathise with your quest to get rid of smelling and filthy looking collegues I can not help but notice you promote the other extreme and seem to think that quality in work can only come from someone wearing a business suit with the accompanying lynch-rope (tie). Making all employees wear the same uniform will not stimulate creative solutions to problems. Where you postulate filthy tech workers will see their jobs taken over by the friendly folks from the far east, I'd like to postulate uniform thinking will see the same jobs move in the same direction. Clothes might make the man, if the man has no substance other then clothes no high tech productivity will come from him. How smart he may *look*.

p.s. this does not really go for women as they appear to have much more choice in 'accepted business clothing', in Europe at least.

Cheers, Jan Meijer

IT Support in a suit? Unlikely. If they want me crawling around under desks sorting out cables then I need to wear harder wearing clothes. How many CEOs find theirselves up in crawl spaces chasing cables in their suits?

Unless they are going to give us changing rooms to swap between suits and work clothes, I can't see any sensible answer.

Though I do make sure I put on a decent shirt, instead of some old Iron Maiden T-Shirt. So maybe we can meet you half way?

Mark Allen

Dear Sir! I must protest your overt homosexuality in your story, "CEOs should follow NBA and make geeks wear real clothes". Really! To set the whole world in motion just so that you may view men's buttocks more clearly beneath their thinly clothed slacks is really just too much for a modern man to stomach.

Everyone, at least everyone who has ever attended a galia event or sophesticated night club, knows that homosexuals enjoy wearing the very type of clothing that you would clothe the entire modern workforce in. Why you homosexuals enjoy dictating "fashion trends" on the rest of the modern world is a mystery to me.

Obviously the move by the NBA was a HOMOSEXUAL move, who else would sweat so seriously over a pair of pants! Really, if someone wants to wear slacks, they should obviously be allowed, but if some tyranical HOMOSEXUAL wants to force everyone into slacks at the risk of poverty and homelessness, that's where I, for one, draw the line. Please, keep your insane opinions between you and your psychologist. And, for heaven's sake, please stop acting so god damn GAY! Everyone at your office is talking about it!

Yours, Don "Sartor Resartus" Diego

P.S. - Mark Twain was/is the United States' greatest hack writer, so I'm sure he'd readily agree with YOUR opinions.

You know i was thinking that it would be a great idea, if, hey we all dressed like suits and bean counters and what if, we all stopped at Starbucks for a frappacino, because you know what you drink says so much about you and oh lets all send our kids to millitary school so the future Bushite's have soldiers to send to other third world countries, to kill other people children in the name of oil... ahem... freedom, and while were at it lets all where cute little uniforms with cool arm badges and march though the streets in unison arms raised high and salute the flags of our corporate masters.

Then we can begin burning the bodies of the Indians who thieve our work because their governments put in place no laws to ensure resonable wages or health care or social services, and CHILD WORK FORCES are ENCOURAGED!...

Fuck wearing a suit for your sake, our corporate masters the Indians or Bush! I'd rather go native, and eat the rich! Alex

Excuse you, but your ideas on geek dress are technically and Safety impaired: 1) Cell phones from belts are not stylishly adverse; but, like all technical fields which require hands tools (can you say Telecom) the toolbelt is a hundreds of years old necessity. Geeks aren't paid enough to wear 3 piece suits with sleek expensive svelte cell phones tucked into the inner pocket. 2) Ties? Do you know from whence a tie evolved? A tie was invented to cover all the ugly cloth ties and BIG buttons used on clothes hundreds of years ago. The tie as we now know it is an affectation of the affluent which has outlived the technological requirements of the initial implementation. Perhaps you should crawl out of your Southwestern bunker, remove your bearskins and take a look at some of the technical innovations in clothes during the past 200 years. Zippers and velcro come to mind. Removing the tie from clothing standards would not be the first time geeks have had to teach the C level the real value of technology (see Wiki for PC revolution) 3) By all safety standards in print, ties are not allowed near high speed manufacturing and processing machinery. If a modern rackmount server is not a high speed processing machine, we have an issue. "I am sorry the Exchange cluster went down, my tie got caught in the blade server fan" (and if you don't get the reference, go look at the latest cooling fan on an IBM blade enclosure).

Geeks are not thugs; our image requires a different kind of makeover (not to say that some of my peers are not socially unacceptable slobs).

Brain Nelson

I dont normally respond to articles, but in your case and this case I'll make an exception. Long story short it'll be a cold day in hell before we start coming into work wearing 3 piece suits. You know why? because we dont make the 6 fig salaries that execs make. Wanna know why we wear jeans? Comfort pure and simple, and a comfortable worker is a happy worker. As an engineer (not a code monkey) wearing a tie is absolutely a nono, pure and simple safety hazard for one thing, what with all the fans and moving eqipment that we service.

You strike me as someone who works out of the penthouse suite of a skyscraper, well sorry bub, but in the real world as opposed to fantasy land where you are work needs to get done. If the monkeys at google want to blow off some steam so their neurons dont fry out like a microwave filled with tin-foil by playing some hockey, I have no problem with that whatsoever. Your comparison with the NBA does not hold water either. Last I checked we're not in the public limelight and on tv all the time like they are. We're hidden away from moronic endusers (me thinks that your one from your attitude as well) so we can get work done.

Get the point? work! Now let us do our jobs and if we have a few eccentricities, then oh well, who really cares except for the 3 pieces wandering on the 80th floor, we're in the basement WORKING anyway while they go play golf. Oh wait the double standard doesnt bother you apparently does it?

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go crawl under a desk and fix a pc covered in dust and who knows what else. I'd really love to follow your example but unfortunately by budget doesnt allow me to buy a new suit once a day to replace the one ruined the day previous. Of course it doesn't really matter since I was strangled by the tie jammed in a fan, that someone like you I'm sure would surely rather see me wear. Clothes don't make the person, the PERSON makes the person, and the quality of their work should speak for itself!

Now if you'll excuse me I have work to do, unlike what the folks wearing the ties do. Spot the distiction? I doubt it for some reason.

Dave Klein

Now we travel into the odd incoherent analogy letters.

Why stop at clothing requirements. How about implementing mandatory hair styles. Maybe catering to your specific taste in appearance should be met in other areas too. Lets go for everyone having the same skin colour as yourself.


You are the closest image to Hitler that my memory can recall right now, you and your article is the most repressive aritcle i have read in this website ever. Let people be who they want to be, diversity means life.

Btw, im will copy this message to all the email addresses on theregister.com, fingers crossed, i hope you get banned from publishing, at least discriminatory and insulting stuff like this.

Worst regards, Ed Cruz

So, there you have it. If that's not a consensus for instituting a dress code, I don't know what is. ®