Oh for the love of…

…Today was going fairly well until I got bitched at for wearing a t-shirt. You heard me, a T-Shirt. On a Friday. because the VP of Sales has said that this is unacceptable for Sales People.

And the person doing the bitching was ready and willing to get my manager on the phone right then and there, so I’m pretty sure he knows my manager will back him up. Of course, they won’t put anything related to a dress code in writing, but they will infer that it will cause me trouble advancing to Outside Sales, which is fine since I don’t see myself in Outside Sales, or my career heading that way.

And once we cut through the bullshit, he made some good points. I’m a senior rep. I set the example. I’m starting to fill a leadership role in the group. Etc, etc. All good points, and I will consider them *AND* talk to my manager myself when he’s in town.

Oh, and operation “Annoy the daylights out of JS” is now in effect. Poor man is going to have an ulcer with “Kevin Sonney” on it before he retires at this rate. Not that I would encourage such a thing.



I did find it particularly telling that the day I was dressed down for wearing a t-shirt, the CEO was in shorts and a t-shirt. I wonder who talks to him about appropriate dress for one’s position in the company….

About Kevin Sonney

Kevin Sonney - who, contrary to popular opinion was NOT raised by wolves - grew up in central North Carolina. He fell into the technology field by accident in 1991, when he gave up the wild and crazy lifestyle of an on-air AM radio DJ to become a mundane technical support monkey. The technology industry has never really recovered from this. Kevin has worked for such names as IBM, Red Hat, webslingerZ, and Lulu Technologies (we won't mention the ones that didn't survive the experience). He currently works as a Linux Administrator for Apptio. In his spare time he rescues stray animals and plays video games with his two sons. His wife, we're sad to say, helps him get past the really hard bits. Kevin is still not very mundane, he just got better at hiding it.
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10 Responses to Oh for the love of…

  1. bitslapper says:

    yow… that kinda blows.

    note to self: don’t wear a t-shirt.


  2. alchemist says:

    You can get away with things a bit differently in Support than I can in Sales. Trust me on that one.

  3. bitslapper says:

    oh, i’m not planning on getting away with anything… i’m not an employee. :)

  4. jay says:

    FWIW, here is how I have dealt with this in the past — and still do:

    At past gigs (consulting) I worked for a manager that brought up the point that I was “senior” and it was going to be monkey see monkey do in all aspects. I would set the tone. I would be the person that raises (or lowers) certain bars.

    I was also subject to finding out when I walked in that day where I could be flying that afternoon. *shrug*


    I keep a set of business casual clothes (pressed) in my office.

    Note — I rarely come to the office dressed in business casual since there are rarely (if ever) visitors that warrant or expect to see business casual.

    Nope, instead, I do what our latest office manager calls “pull a superman” when duty calls.

    When someone senior (again making it a rarity) makes a reference to or takes issue with my dress, I just excuse myself, go in my office and come back looking a bit more polished on the exterior.

    I also make it a point to put that team member at ease (usually outside sales person btw or CEO) so that they feel they can present the best possible face. They don’t dispute my power to dazzle and wow a prospect — but the packaging can’t be disputed. I am a slob at heart. Comfy is my style.

    I also keep two suits where one can be at home and one can be at the office but I can tell when the second one needs to be in the office. One is more casual style suit for first time visits that warrant it and the other is straight up pin stripe financial grade I’ll be in front of a C-level audience suit.

    The reason I mention this is that you never want to over dress for the people you are with of course since that makes them even more pissy… as I’ve done in the past and learned. Once I put on the full suit and came back but the outside sales guy was just in a polo and khaki’s and upon seeing me dressed in a suit — he freaked. After we talked about losing the tie or leaving the jacket behind I got him to agree to let me know when and what I would need to wear. Thing is — it is their call and it is their sale — and my possible chunk of the health it brings to the company.

    Also, for some of our customer base, over dressing causes them to be concerned about knowledge/skill type when you walk in the door. Sometimes, a nice set of jeans and clean button down keeps the technical folks calm across the table.

    So, this rambled but…

    I would suggest keeping a set of dress clothes in conspicuous view and let your team know that they should consider the same thing. Get facilities to order hooks for cubes/offices to hang the change of clothes since crumpled shirts can set off “dress to impress” sales folks almost as much as a mustard stain on the F U I’M WITH STOOPID tee shirt.

    If you want a personal style note you can even get a thin plastic/plexiglas sheet to hang over it and put a sticker that says “BREAK IN CASE OF LAST MINUTE SALES ACTIVITY” on it and tie a small mallet on twine to it. :) It also can serve to keep off the dust or the moron effect for people that can’t get coffee in their mouth correctly or that spittle when they talk too quickly.

    BTW, today I came to work with a “geek.” tee shirt and my cargo shorts. However, yesterday I was in full business casual boring button down and khakies.

  5. gardenwaltz says:

    today is the first day i fully enjoyed our company’s official casual dress policy.

    i wore a rather snazzy black and white atlantic beach shirt, green jeans and sneakers. i thought perhaps there may have been the occasional not-entirely-approving look, but i didn’t get any official comments. that being said, i decided i’m more comfortable in one step above the minimum acceptable. i’m also not in the heavy geek area that the code is really aiming at. i’m in ‘business services’ and there’s still the mindset that you dress for where you want to be. i have a nice job, but wouldn’t mind being thought of for better positions.

    p.s. :p for the veep.

  6. alchemist says:

    Most days I’m in a button down and long pants (I cannot, and will not, wear khakies every day. I *HATE* the feel of Khakies and most men’s dress pants. Never heavy enough, you know?)

    I’m all about a compromise, and I think this was handled badly on his part. I have a feeling it was partly dick-waving, and partly his insane urge to be “proper” in front of the executives since we moved to the Executive floor.

    But, if it’s a button down shirt he wants, button down he’ll get. I think I might spnd some money on Lucky 13 (http://www.lucky13apparel.com/mensssunionshirts2.html) work shirts. Maybe some black cargo pants (if I can find them) or black carpenter pants.

    it would be so much easier if they grew a pair and just put it in writing. Because if you’re oing to have an unofficial dress code, you’re not going to have everyone following the unofficial dress code, you know?

  7. moonfl0wer says:


    stories of that place now just tend to depress me.

    sorry you got bitched at…

  8. alchemist says:

    …I don’t think my second line (Billy) cares as much as the manager who did the bitching. Seriously.

    I find it humourous that every time I push them to put it in writing they get a terrified look on their faces. becasue they know – *KNOW* – what would happen if they did.

    So the question now is, ow much can I get away with? Lucky 13 makes some nice shirts (even if their online order system is fubar’ed), and I’m wondering if the “Man’s Ruin” shirt pushes the limits of what i can get away with….BWAHAHAHAHA

    Got any good sites for button down shirt with “good” designs on them that won’t get me divorced or fired?

  9. h_postmortemus says:

    If they put a dress code in writing, it would make it harder to allow exceptions for execs and VIPs. By having it unspecified, your workplace can pretty much arbitrarily dictate how you dress up to and including “Put on your chicken suit!”.

    I got bitched at once for my dress (which was pretty extreme… denim shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops). My manager asked me if I was trying to make him “look bad”. Seems he’d just gotten an e-mail about the dress code.

    He showed it to me (along with a co-worker). Right in the e-mail, which was sent to managers, it specifically said “DO NOT SHOW THIS TO YOUR EMPLOYEES!”. The bulk of the message was about “unprofessional” dress and complaints of such.

    Of course now I wear jeans all the time, the only real requirement being a collared shirt. Which I never bother to tuck in. One of the minor benefits of the merger…

    (Oh, and I didn’t know you worked in sales. That’s ok, I still talk to you. :) )

  10. alchemist says:

    I’m finding that I can avoid the Dockers Suck Ass problem with Cargo pants or heavier Khakhis. I’m getting some funky button-downs, though, just to keep them on their toes.

    And yeah, it’s sales, but I’m the Sales Engineer – I actually get to do reality checks when they sell the technology. And play with nifty things every so often.

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