HP bans t-shirts at work and employees are furious

For a lot of programmers, especially in Silicon Valley the trusted tee-shirt-and-hoodie combo makes up the only work uniform they need. It’s considered by many to be a perk of the job: Nobody cares how you dress for work, so long as you deliver.

But this week, several teams within HP’s 100,000 employee-strong Enterprise Services division were sent a confidential memo cracking down on casual dress in the workplace, because higher-ups in the company are concerned that customers visiting the offices will be put off by dressed-down developers, reports The Register.

“According to HP, men should avoid turning up to the office in T-shirts with no collars, faded or torn jeans, shorts, baseball caps and other headwear, sportswear, and sandals and other open shoes. Women are advised not to wear short skirts, faded or torn jeans, low-cut dresses, sandals, crazy high heels, and too much jewellery,” says the Register report.

Technically, this is merely asking HP employees to adhere to a dress code that’s already in place. But, especially in the company’s R&D teams, this had previously apparently been taken as more of a suggestion than a hard rule. The news comes at a bad time, too, as many developers took to wearing shorts to work for the warm summer months. 

On Twitter, the response so far has largely been negative: 


HP Enterprise Services is soon to be spun off into its own company, and it seems obvious that the company is looking to run a tighter ship as it prepares to go it alone.

But a lax dress code is a major help in recruiting top Silicon Valley talent, and it remains to be seen if the tradeoff is worth it. 

HP did not respond to a request for comment at press time. 

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