I am not asking frivolously. I’m starting a management role in a mid-sized business software company in Philadelphia. I come from a finance company where I wore a suit and tie every day. The younger staff there were very focused on the brands (Alan Edmonton shoes, Freeman suits, or something like that). I never cared about such things, but I certainly knew the uniform and dressed the part.

I noticed during my interview future colleagues wearing trousers and dress shirts—the fairly straightforward “tech” look I see people on the street wearing. Especially and exclusively, I noticed brown shoes and brown belts.

Except for suits, all my clothes are old jeans and t-shirts and sweatshirts. I’ll need to buy new clothes but don’t want to spend $1000 buying the wrong things. Therefore, a few questions:

  • Are black dress shoes “out”? I rarely see tech types wearing them. Almost always brown.

  • Cotton trousers, or wool? Does it matter?

  • Are there certain clothing brands that are popular with tech business types?

  • What sort of briefcase?

  • Brands do not matter. If it does, it would be highly dependent on company culture. Blue and Brown colors are not a replacement for a standard black and white suit and shirt, but help to add some variety to your daily routine. Grey, White, Pink are also colors you can try, just make sure to get some other peoples opinions to make sure you can pull it off. Standard Business is always acceptable although sometimes you might stand out (if it was a super casual company). Then you have a more business casual with a collared shirt and long pants. – Shadowzee Oct 13 '19 at 23:21
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    Your interview was your opportunity to get a feel for the company specific culture. If you missed that then overdress for your first day/week but try not to overdo it and end up making an awkward first impression. Then go late night shopping and rectify it. Good luck. – solarflare Oct 13 '19 at 23:28
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    Yeah, this is a normal question if you haven't started yet. IMO just overdress for the first week or two until you get a feel of how everyone is dressing. Then do as the romans do – Max A. Oct 13 '19 at 23:50
  • Not all black shoes are “dress shoes”. And, black or brown, clean and polished is best. – Solar Mike Oct 14 '19 at 6:25
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    The answer to this question will vary wildly based on the company's culture. Wear your best clothes day one and alter your attire from there based on the environment. – Neo Oct 14 '19 at 11:47

Different tech companies have very different standards of attire.

Some of the more modern companies (or those who pretend to be modern) pride themselves by how lax their dresscode is and that even the CEO comes to work wearing a polo shirt. This trend was set by successful tech company managers like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg who rarely appeared with suit and tie in public.

But I have also worked with companies which are a lot more conservative and still expect everyone to wear a suit and a tie. And then there are companies everywhere in between. The general trend appears to be that companies with a more consumer-oriented image try to be more casual while those with a more b2b-oriented image appear more formal. But even that's not a very hard rule.

So we can not tell you what's expected at the particular company where you got a job. If in doubt, ask about any written and unwritten dresscode rules and observe how others dress and then duplicate them. If you can not get information like that before your first work day, look how the company presents itself in public. Do the images on their website show people in suits or in t-shirts? How do their representatives dress when they speak in public?

But when in doubt, it's almost always more acceptable to overdress than to underdress.

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    I would also like to add that the acceptable dress can vary from department to department at least in large companies. For example my team has to wear collared shirts but the other team is always wearing normal T shirts with cartoons/quotes and such on them that we are not allowed to wear. They are just under a different associate director. That seams to be the deciding factor here. – Sierra Mountain Tech Oct 14 '19 at 12:15
  • > acceptable to overdress than to underdress. and its easy to take a jacket off if you want to adjust during the day but after first impressions it is hard to put one on. – Borgh Oct 15 '19 at 6:39

future colleagues wearing trousers and dress shirts

This would appear to be the acceptable attire. Don't worry too much about overdressing at the start, it happens. But ideally you fit in fairly well from day one. So trousers and dress shirt, worry about the shoes later.

The more casual the culture, the less they worry about brands I would think. I've never seen it as an issue.

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You can always start with your current outfits, then joke about how you’re overdressed, then buy clothes that match the standard. Deviate slightly in the direction that you prefer.

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IT tends to be relaxed. I have had bosses who wore flip-flops and shorts in the day to day office life, dressing fancier to visit clients.

It varies wildly from company to company. I would drop the suit and the tie and overdress a little just to get the feeling of the company. You can always go shopping after you leave work.

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