Prior to becoming an engineer I was an accountant. In that profession dress is everything, or at least is was about 20 years ago. If you were not wearing a suit you were considered under dressed. I remember talking to a woman at a bar about this topic. I remember her being very nice looking and dressed very well. However, on that day she was told the outfit she was wearing was unacceptable, and only a suit jacket and skirt were allowed. Most engineers were the same way at the time. Over the years things have changed in the engineering profession, with most firms moving to business casual. Consequently, business casual has dictated my choice of clothing over about the past 10 years and have worn primarily dockers rather than suits or dress pants. In the summer my Dockers are accompanied by a polo shirt, and in the colder months a button down collared dress shirt replaces the polo. If I want to get really fancy I add in a sweater.
At my last place of employment, the owner was old school. The dress was shirt, tie and pants. Jeans were only allowed if you were working in the field. Sneakers were never allowed. Casual Fridays meant that you could remove your tie. My current place of employment is just the opposite. Jeans and sneakers are the outfit of choice for most of the men.
When working at the last job I always thought, what is the point of wearing a tie every day. I would love to work casual, in jeans and sneakers every day. Now that I have that freedom I don’t like it. Although I deal with contractors a lot, and are almost always in boots and jeans, I feel unprofessional. I took a serious look in my closet a few months ago and realized that my clothing choice and condition of those clothes has slipped significantly. I wanted to change that. Over my career as an accountant and engineer I have come to realize that no matter how your client is dressed, your opinions and statements are given a little more credence when you are properly attired.
Henceforth, I have made a committment to dressing more formal, more often. My first investment was in shoes. I bought some wingtips for the first time since I was an accountant. Two pairs, a formal and informal pair. The formal pair is slightly more formal, having smoother leather and a slightly more involved design. The plan is to wear these with suits, of which I have one. The less formal will be worn day-to-day. My next purchases will be dress pants or as my wife likes to call them trousers. These will replace my Dockers and become the day-to-day wear. I will add in some new dress shirts. Only button-downs work for me. The non-button collars have never worked with my short neck. No ties unless a client meeting is being undertaken and only for certain clients.
There you have it. A plan for a new wardrobe for an engineer. Wish me luck.