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Engineering office attire? - Page 2

post #16 of 37
Bespoke labcoats. think about it.
post #17 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by OxWing View Post
Soon-to-be graduate here. I'll be starting work this summer at an engineering and manufacturing form in New York state, and I'm trying to figure out what kind of work wardrobe to put together. The dress code is business casual, which I understand. The issue is that I will inevitably be spending time going out into the shop to inspect parts, build prototypes, and that kind of thing, and I don't want to be constantly getting grease/soot/etc. on nice clothes.

For all you engineers on SF, what do you do about this? Do you wear (relatively) inexpensive clothes to work?

Are you sure there is even an issue here? If you're expected to do work with your hands, does the "business casual" code really even apply to you? How are the other employees dressed, have you had the chance to see them?

I'm also an engineer but thankfully I work at a pure and clean office. Our bosses always wear jackets and sometimes suits, whilst many employees wear street-style t-shirts, jeans or even baggy pants (yes, even our PhD:s do that ). They wear anything from jogging shoes to China made thick rubber sole shoes. It's crazy. I've chosen a level just below the bosses: pants and fine sweaters, always with a polo or Oxford shirt under. Sometimes just the Oxford. Quality-wise though I'd say I'm the leader, but I think no one has an eye for that. As long as I have the eye I'm fine with that - I dress for myself, no one else.

OxWing, have you become any wiser?
post #18 of 37
I work for a fairly large aerospace company as well and the Coburn is spot on: most engineers work in cubicles and occasionally go to the factory to work with the guys on the line. If you're quality, IE, etc I'm sure you'd be spending more time than average in the factory. We really don't know enough about your situation to advise properly, except for the "fit" advice. Fit is king.
post #19 of 37
Business casual, but that means many different things to different companies.

I think a pretty middle of the road way to handle this would be buttondown collar shirts, khaki pants, decent boots.

Sweaters for the colder weather.

I wouldnt wear a sport coat.
post #20 of 37
I consider myself a "recovering engineer." Before moving into planning & management, I worked for four years in engineering: two years for the government, and two at a small private engineering consulting firm. At both places there was a mix of office work and field work, so I can relate to and concur with most of the comments above.

As a general rule, engineers are NOT good dressers. The fact that you're on this forum indicates that you want to be different from them, which is good, but make sure you get a feel for the corporate culture of the firm before stepping out too far; some places will welcome someone with unique style as an independent thinker; others will view this with negativity. Before spending too much money on new clothes, know what situation you're in. Some additional thoughts:

1) How frequent will your contacts be with clients or upper management? The more likely you do either of these, the "nicer" you should dress (sport coat + wool slacks vs. chinos). Even if you rarely get in front of clients or management, you should make it a habit to dress nicer if/when there is even a chance that that will happen.

2) Always dress up if/when you give a presentation. "Dressing up" is relative to each firm (some places it means a suit and tie, where at others it can simply mean not wearing jeans and throwing on a blue blazer). That said, by dressing up, it will make a positive impact on both how you carry yourself during the presentation and how the audience (whether it's management, clients, or colleagues) perceives you.

3) If you think you're going to be in situations where you might get messy or dirty, think about having a change of clothes. When I was in the field, we'd often put coveralls over our regular clothes to protect them, along with a pair of steel-toed boots in place of regular shoes. This allowed me to dress up more often than I would have otherwise.

4) Don't ever put a pen or pencil or anything else in your shirt pocket. Many engineers will do it. Avoid the temptation.

Good luck and happy engineering.
post #21 of 37
Even with chinos, fit is going to be a HUGE factor if you wear them well, especially if you are slim to begin with and choose a slimmer chino.

I see 95% of engineers wearing baggy ass chinos with pleats and sometimes cuffs ... paired with the good ol box toe Kenneth Coles or rubber soled Rockports.
post #22 of 37
Thread Starter 
Lots of good responses. Always amazing how helpful you folks are. I guess chinos make a lot of sense. Some nicer-looking rubber-soled AE's maybe. I'm not exactly sure what my assignment will be yet, so there's a chance I could be in manufacturing or something where I'd be making the rounds in the shop on a daily basis. What do you guys think of these "chinos" : http://www.jcrew.com/AST/Browse/Mens...7249/17249.jsp ?? Nice to see that there are some other engineers on this board. Do any of you know where I can get a bespoke pocket protector??
post #23 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by furo View Post
Even with chinos, fit is going to be a HUGE factor if you wear them well, especially if you are slim to begin with and choose a slimmer chino.

I see 95% of engineers wearing baggy ass chinos with pleats and sometimes cuffs ... paired with the good ol box toe Kenneth Coles or rubber soled Rockports.

Pleats rule although they may upset people.
post #24 of 37
Greetings from a fellow engineer... Flat front chinos, alternate between polos and OCBDs, some nice boots and you will do fine. Don't overthink this - you are an engineer and hopefully you should be busy making something real and useful for humankind as opposed to the rest of the paperpushers on this forum...
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrumhalf View Post
Greetings from a fellow engineer...

Flat front chinos, alternate between polos and OCBDs, some nice boots and you will do fine. Don't overthink this - you are an engineer and hopefully you should be busy making something real and useful for humankind as opposed to the rest of the paperpushers on this forum...

Unless you're systems or software

/duck
post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by furo View Post
Unless you're systems or software

/duck

Or civil: from a professor of mine



post #27 of 37
MechE here. Engineering is a huge discipline in which the working conditions vary, perhaps more than any other field (excluding outliers), so both general and specific advice may well be off the mark (I am basically telling you to mind your assumptions, which so many engineers forget in time). You do need to consider, right from the start, I believe, where you want to go. If you are a good engineer you can probably guarantee yourself a job as an engineer as long as your company maintains the department (and maintains it in the States). If you want to have options (even if you do not know what they might be, as yet) then you need to consider more carefully. WestofPCH's four points are excellent and I follow them -- their intent is that you are presented a little better, a little more professionally when it counts. I have had doors open for me that I would not have believed and I cannot discount my presentation of myself as a factor. My work environment is a small engineering group, <100ppl between engineers and support staff. Lots of management contact, frequent client contact. We have in house prototyping and testing, as well as Manufacturing a short car ride away. We do everything from some pure R&D to new product design, and all the engineers are multi-talented and tasked with diverse projects. I spend very little time in the plant (usually only if I am troubleshooting a Manufacturing issue) but a reasonably significant amount of time (20-30%) in the Shop and various Labs, where, because I have training and experience, can do hands on work if I desire to and need to. As a mechanical, I work with a lot of components, and not in a nice and clean field, it is rough and tumble, doing everything from assemblies to both performance and pure testing. Dress code is a bit more than buisiness casual. I am always in a tie, usually have a jacket, and wear a suit, perhaps twice a week, more if I have a presentation or am meeting a client/customer/contractor. If I am in the Shop or a Lab, I may often roll my sleeves, and I will tuck my tie inside my shirt if near machinery. I am therefore a little bit better dressed than most of my colleagues, and this has been noticed and commented upon. You have to have to have to be very down to earth and treat everyone well if you dress 'better' than most of your colleagues or it can seem like you are trying to be (or worse, are announcing you are) better than them. Your treatment of your colleagues (and especially, especially, engineering support staff, from designers to technicians) must always be with respect and an understanding of your relative experience level. Everyone has something they can teach you, especially the techs who work with the product daily and know so much about it but may be relectuant to offer that information because engineers often treat them like crap and/or forget to give credit where due. Have a spare tie(s) and a neutral colored jacket at work at all times. If you get called into a meeting when the CEO or Director of Engineering is there, you want to be able to take your attire up a notch in a flash. Keep your shoes in good shape. Keep communication with other disciplines in your firm as much as you can. Talk to senior engineers about how they keep records on the type of projects the firm has -- adopting a good system is better than developing one from scratch. While my comments are not exclusive to attire, neither is attire alone exclusive to how you are viewed by your colleagues. I hope the perspective was of value. I love engineering and find it a very beautiful and challenging discipline that allows for the rational application of imagination -- we are the dreamers who can make it happen. No field has been 'done to death.' Good luck. ~ H
post #28 of 37
A civil engineer doesn't paint roads.
post #29 of 37
Thread Starter 
Would it be inappropriate to wear nice non-bal boots like the AE Malvern or some RM Williams craftsman in a business casual environment?

Would that be a problem if I wanted to throw on a tie and jacket?
post #30 of 37
I wear them all the time. You have still not explained what Business Casual is in your workplace? What do the other engineers wear? Does attire differentiate the Senior Engineers from the line project engineers or the Manufacturing engineers? If nobody wears ties I think you are going to the a singularity. Probably not good. A nice jacket is rarely wrong, especially as the weather is colder. In summer, it's harder to get away with. ~ H
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