HP Mandates Dress Code For R&D Engineers Suggesting ‘Smart Casual’ Adults Ditch Comfy T-Shirts And Shorts

You may have a collection of hilarious (and comfortable) t-shirts, but if you work at HP, you better stock up on more professional looking attire. Yes, that even applies to programmers grinding a living behind a keyboard, who were among the 100,000 people HP reportedly sent a memo to reminding them of the "smart casual" dress code.

Anonymous sources told The Register that the memo was sent out because the suits at HP feared that customers visiting the company wouldn't take well to seeing R&D engineers look anything less than professional. Forget for a moment that casual attire is both a trend and a perk in the tech industry among programmers and engineers, HP still feels that all employees -- including ones that don't interact with customers -- must dress the part (of a professional).

HP Building

In addition to the memo, HP wrote up a blog post detailing the importance of "being smart about casual." If you're a male, you should avoid athletic jerseys, tank tops, or other sportswear; light trousers (think beachwear like light linen); bleached and torn jeans; t-shirts without collars; open shoes and sandals, basically anything without socks is a no-no; headwear (especially ball caps) once inside the office; and shorts.

For the female gender, HP says you should avoid dressing in overly short skirts; bleached and torn jeans; an abundance of jewelery (especially if the noise is distracting); low-cut dresses; sandals, and cocktail shoes.

Shell Shirt

Sill confused? Perhaps this bit from HP will help:

When dressing, a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of smart, with a hint of casual. For men, imagine the most proper way to dress: suit, collar and tie. By removing the tie and perhaps the jacket, you maintain the framework of formality, while loosening it up a little.

For women, the same rule applies – dress as presentably as you can, while bringing a casual flourish to your outfit. And take comfort that solid style goes a long way to melding different fashions together.
The company goes on to suggest using "simple common sense" to avoid dressing in "anything too flamboyant or sloppy." Naturally, not everyone is happy with HP's sudden interest in attire.

"If you aren't dressed like the models in the posters that HP displays around its locations, then your appearance is sapping the productivity of the workers around you," a source told The Register.

HP's sudden interest in enforcing a dress code that already exists comes as the company gets ready to split its enterprise division from its PC and printer business.