Last week, as I was dressing into a suit (sadly for a funeral), I found myself wondering why male hackers (in the classic sense) don't like getting dressed up. It's well known that hackers hate suits -- just take a look at the jargon file entry for starters. And I've often heard a tie referred to as a "thought noose" (although interestingly google doesn't turn up anything relevant for that phrase).
However, dressing in a suit has several features which fit hacker sensibilities:
- There's a lot of technical gear required, and it's often expensive.
- There's a lot of associated jargon (four-in-hand, half-Windsor, cap-toed, notched lapel, grosgrain, repp, etc).
- Certain aspects require a good bit of skill (tying the perfect knot, for example).
- Picking an outfit is creative within fixed, established limits, similar to many programming challenges.
Looking at it that way, you'd think hackers would flock to Brooks Brothers, and yet they don't. The reason is this: hackers are notoriously counter-cultural and rebel against whatever norms you put in front of them. Since hacking evolved in the '60s, it makes sense that the hackers of that era would choose to stay away from The Man's sartorial norm. And that would certainly hold over into the '80s, a decade defined by the power tie.
But what about now? Not only has every tech company gone to business casual, but even the executives dress way down. So what could be more anti-establishment than wearing a suit? Heck, put on a bow tie and you'll really be sticking it to them. Hackers, stop following out-of-date traditions, pick up a copy of Flusser's Dressing the Man, and cut your own path.