I used to wear Docker-style casual pants to work on a daily basis, and I hated it. I hated it because being a software engineer, I’ve always preferred to adorn myself in what my family has, for years, mockingly referred to as “programmer-wear”. Programmer-wear is, of course, based on a foundation of basic denim blue jeans. None of that fancy stuff mind you, no funky washes, name brands, or stuff with pre-made rips and/or tatters.
If I’m going to wear holey pants, by gum, you can bet I’ll be bringing my own holey.
Honestly, I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would pay extra for jeans that already faded or torn. They’re paying more for pants they’re going to get less use out of and I can’t see any way that that’s not just plain silly. Real jeans aren’t “broke-in” for about a year, in my estimation. At that point they’re soft and probably showing a little well-earned fray. Earn that fray on your own, dammit, don’t let a faceless machine in some factory in China earn it for you!
I’m sorry, is that my cheap showing?
So, anyway, we technical types wear jeans. It’s a rule; I’m sure it’s in the bylaws somewhere. Occasionally, you might see a pair of cargo pants or something else exceedingly casual, but denim is unquestionably king.
What else does programmer-wear entail? Casual shirts, of course. T-shirts and, when necessary, polo-type collars are the name of the game. Typically, you’re going to see a lot of wrinkle-free, low-maintenance type of stuff too. Technical people are, as rule, not often given to concerns about whether one’s shirt looks like it spent the night being slept on by a spasmodic cat. In fact, most of my people don’t own irons unless it came with a wife or girlfriend. Before I met the Puddinette, I had access to one only through my roommate and brother, who, as a school teacher, apparently was expected to wear respectable-looking attire.
That said, the t-shirt is the natural preference for programmer-wear, and the most widely accepted will fall into one of three categories: the faded concert tee, the promotional product tee, and the technical-mocking tee.
The technical-mocking tee is the favorite, of course, although the promotional tee is a close second. It’s usually given away as swag from some technical conference or by a vendor unaware that we’re largely too oblivious to be bought by something as subtle as a free shirt. The promo tee is huge, regardless of whether it comes with a penguin, apple or multicolored flag, because it means that someone somewhere thought we were important enough to give us gifts! Sadly, most of us never realize that it’s not so much our importance as it is our ability to dependably act as a walking billboard that makes the techie a good target for free stuff.
Everyone loves a good technical-mocking tee because they usually offer a form of clever derision, an inside joke, or some common piece of techie information largely unknown by people with actual social skills. My tribe delights in mocking people without their knowledge; passive aggressiveness is key to the survival of the species. Fine examples include shirts like this one, that one, or those with messages like, “There’s no place like 127.0.0.1”.
Odds are good, though, that if you participated in any physical contact with a member of the opposite sex at some point in high school, you don’t have any of these in your wardrobe.
Thankfully, I was granted a reprieve from the business casual dress code around the beginning of this year. It’s denim daily for me now, baby. Sadly, I’m not sporting t-shirts that publicly declare my stance on the contentious Han Solo Issue. But I’m ok with the collared polo, as long as it doesn’t develop the “flying nun”.
So why have I taken all this time to so clearly define exactly what “programmer-wear” means?
Christmas is coming, duh. And XXL is the universal size for nerds.