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HP bans T-shirts at work, and employees are furious

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programmer 3

(Flickr / Alper Çuğun) The traditional Silicon Valley coder uniform.

For a lot of programmers, especially in Silicon Valley, the trusted T-shirt-and-hoodie combo makes up the only work uniform they need. It’s considered by many to be a perk of the job: Nobody cares how you dress for work, so long as you deliver. 

But this week, several teams within HP’s 100,000-employee-strong Enterprise Services division were sent a confidential memo cracking down on casual dress in the workplace, because higher-ups in the company are concerned that customers visiting the offices will be put off by dressed-down developers, reports The Register.

« According to HP, men should avoid turning up to the office in T-shirts with no collars, faded or torn jeans, shorts, baseball caps and other headwear, sportswear, and sandals and other open shoes. Women are advised not to wear short skirts, faded or torn jeans, low-cut dresses, sandals, crazy high heels, and too much jewelry, » says the Register report.

The memo was apparently directed not just at salespepeople, but at staffers in R&D who have decidedly different sartorial styles than their business-side colleagues. The news comes at a bad time too, as many developers took to wearing shorts to work for the warm summer months.

On Twitter, the response so far has largely been negative:


I understand the motivation behind HP dress code – HP customers are mostly clueless idiots that judge people by the way they dress.

— … (@cloud_opinion) July 24, 2015

HP: You there. R&D geek. Get rid of that T-shirt and put on this tie Sell your HP shares! Dress code = desperation

— Steve Brooks (@SteveBrooks13) July 24, 2015

HP is soon seperating into HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, of which Enterprise Services is a part, and it seems obvious that the company is looking to run a tighter ship as it prepares to go it alone.

But a lax dress code is a major help in recruiting top Silicon Valley talent, and it remains to be seen if the tradeoff is worth it.

An HP spokesperson said the company does not have a global dress code but had no immediate comment on the report of the memo about the Enterprise group dress code.

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