Originally Posted by srivats
I am an engineer and this is what I wear everyday: OCBD shirts, cotton khakis/ cotton twill/wool flannels/wool twills per season and proper dress shoes. I very rarely wear a tie or jacket to work. I work in a lab all the time and cannot imagine wearing a jacket at work at all. Sweaters/cardigans for the cooler weather and that's about it. In summer months I wear chambray and linen shirts very often. I don't wear full sleeved shirts all the time either. BB Black Fleece had a bunch of short sleeved oxford cloth shirts and I got them on sale and wear them all the time. I do have suits and sportscoats that I wear when need be - esp if I travel.
Make sure that your clothes fit you - that is the most important thing in my eyes. You don't have to wear a jacket or a suit to be spiffy - you can be very presentable with the above stuff I mentioned but at the same not worry about replacing shirts of some accidents happen (which always does). Shoes are something I splurge on and can afford to, since my work area is not too messy. You might not be able to do this, depending on your nature of work - you might have to go for cheaper and/or safer shoes (rubber soled, steel toed) etc. Never compromise safety for style.
Originally Posted by binge
You also have to consider the opposite. Even if you "dress down" to accommodate the dirt/oil/etc. of the factory, would you still be comfortable wearing those clothes to the office? Or would you fell like a sanitation worker dolled up in his Sunday best?
I'm an engineer in a very large aerospace company in Seattle.
Most engineers here do not get on an airplane or work in a lab. Even those that do, are not exposed to dirt or damage -- the mechanics and technicians build the airplanes.
Modern manufacturing and labs are cleaner and safer then the popular image.
Here, most people are very poorly dressed. By that I mean they wear jeans, t-shirts, canvas shoes. Management dresses one step up - dress shirt and chinos, dockers, etc. At the executive level, people add a sport coat (but no ties.) The fit of clothes ranges from OK to disaster.
I would second Srivats, the fit of the clothes is more important then the type of clothes.
I'm seen as an eccentric because I wear a tie, wool pants, and, sometimes a jacket. However, there is an odd duality about this. At the same time, I know that these clothes evoke from others a penumbra of unconcious attributes -- intelligence, leadership, attention to details, etc. My career has benefited from my choice of clothes.
From a utilitarian point of view, that is what you want. If you are uncomfortable 'standing out', then chinos (no jeans) and open collar button down (only a button down looks good without a tie) is a safe look and leather shoes with a shine. But, to make an impact, the fit should be very good.