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Dressing down

The question

Management consultant Arthur Andersen last week announced it had decided to allow staff to come to work in more casual attire. We asked NCE's readers what would happen if civil engineers were able to dress down?

I, like my colleagues, would probably wear jeans, a T-shirt and a smile, induced by the reduction in ironing, which is never ending purgatory for the shirt-wearing masses.

Jonathan Rogers, coastal engineer, West Byfleet.

Although not many engineers routinely meet the public, I think most of us should be dressing up rather than down. Smart clothes give the wearer more confidence and make a better impression on everyone they come into contact with. It would be unhelpful if dressing down became a competition to see who had the most impressive designer wear. However, in my office, I think it would be more likely to be jeans as worn for site work. Personally, I would feel most comfortable wearing my normal suit as my casual attire is mostly of the 'digging the garden' variety.

John Park, engineer, South Ayrshire

Would it really be possible for civil engineers to dress down any further?

Marc Glass, principal engineer, Birmingham

I think we have a long way to go before it would be acceptable to turn up to meet a putative new client in jeans and T-shirt. Personally, I like to dress the part - smart suit for formal meetings or lectures, softer styles for ordinary days in the office, more robust clothes on site. I'm always grateful that it is acceptable for women to wear trousers for any type of activity.

Susan Feguson, project management consultant, Norfolk

Having already worked 10 years ago in a dress-down company, I would wear a sports shirt, trousers and trainers.

John Brownlie, engineer,


The important thing is not what you want to wear but what the customer expects you to wear. At work I wear a collar and tie because my customer, Mr Average in the street, expects me as a local authority engineer to wear a collar and tie. Or are my perceptions of Mr Average in the street just old fashioned?

Jim Towers, transportation engineer, Stirling

Civil engineering is not known for its 'sharp' dressers but to be fair our work often involves combining office duties with site duties - a practical compromise has to be reached. Personally, I would continue to wear 'smart' clothes.

Nicholas Worthington, Waterways engineer, Staffordshire

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