Dress Code

It took me some time to realize that everybody was discussing Matt Taylor’s shirt instead of Philae’s harpoon and why.

When I first saw Matt Taylor’s shirt I paid no attention to it whatsoever. It did not even strike me as ugly. In IT work environments people dress like that all the time. As it happens, a retro sci-fi shirt is perfect techie attire. An IT company even makes great people watching: salespeople wear suits, HR, clerks and managers dress fashionably, techies wear either impersonal polo shirts with jeans or bold Marvel t-shirts with shorts (even in the wintertime).

That’s what the dress code is for, coding, and while women tend to dress slightly better, the code is genderless. For example, never trust a techie in a suit when it comes to coding (you can trust them as managers, but don’t let them touch the code).

When I heard that people were accusing Taylor of wearing a sexist shirt I was dumbfounded. People clearly don’t know a thing about science-fiction pinups. But then I noticed that people were also accusing Taylor of bad taste and of not knowing how to dress to work.

So assuming people are actually saying all this, not only they don’t know a thing about science-fiction pinups, but they also don’t know about the dress code in geek workplaces.

If you’re a techie you can go to work in your pajamas if you fancy to. I have colleagues who keep their own home slippers at the office so that they can take their shoes away while they work. While sometimes I am offended by the level of sloppiness that can be reached by male engineers, I have to admit that being allowed to go to work in faded, shapeless, ridiculous clothes is relaxing. Well, the other women will stare a little, but men won’t and this is refreshing. Sooner or later I may even risk shorts myself, in the summer.

Please don’t fight against this freedom in the name of good taste and decorum. I really can’t be bothered to wear makeup everyday, especially when I’m going to the gym during lunch break. Please don’t make me remove the makeup at lunch and then re-apply it for the afternoon. Please, I love Downton Abbey like the next girl but please, don’t put Matt Taylor in a suit and me in heels. Unless you’re prepared to pay for a lady’s maid to follow me during my day, and a chauffeur. Can I also have a Labrador puppy? Are you prepared to pay for a valet for Matt Taylor?

Of course sometimes, when I’m in the mood, I dress conservatively. Only heels and skirts, what I would be forced to wear on the average workplace, heels and skirts are so impractical, and having my markedness as a woman highlighted makes things helplessly complicated, especially in the mostly-men environment I find myself in, for example if I wear a skirt I need to be the last one to climb the floating staircase, if I wear heels everybody will have to patiently wait for me when we walk back from lunch and there will be all the noise I make on the concrete.


So sometimes I wear derby shoes. I wear Church’s. I know I know, now that they are owned by Prada the quality is no longer what it used to be, but what was I supposed to do, wait for them to be bought by a Chinese corp.?

What I have discovered about good derby shoes is that they make you authoritative and at the same time you can run to catch the bus. Everybody respects you when you’re in good derby shoes, managers and bus drivers alike. Your gender makes no difference, not yours, not the one of the managers, not the one of the bus driver. Compare it to formal womenswear, which is technically designed to slow you down so that people can get a better look of you.

Please understand, it’s dress code.