Dressing in Tech: It’s Not Me, It’s Your Hoodie

This is the second installment of Dressing in Tech.  Check out Dressing in Tech: The Hoodie Curse.

Not Made for Women

Most tech companies I’ve worked for are very generous and shower their employees cool and useful company swag – which usually comes in the form of t-shirts and hoodies. So cool!

Unfortunately, I never get to wear them because the shirts don’t fit.

Why don’t they fit? Because the shirts are either men’s cut or unisex.

Let’s be clear here about why “unisex” is bullshit.  Cutting something smaller and labeling it “unisex” does not mean it fits women. It’s still a straight silhouette, which is useless for most women, and now you’ve just made a men’s shirt smaller – a problem in itself as men who would normally wear a medium have to jump up to XL in unisex. Instead of only alienating one gender, you have now alienated everyone.

However, I understand why it’s easier to only order one style of shirt/hoodie:

  • Shirt companies cut you a better deal the more you order. If the vast majority of your staff is male, you’d end up paying way more for the women’s shirts.
  • It’s impossible to know precisely how many to order for each gender, especially in an industry like tech where people come and go so quickly (yes, exactly like the Wizard of Oz).
  • Companies could very easily end up with random sizes gathering dust in a backroom.

See…I actually get it. But it doesn’t change the fact that the shirts don’t fit. I’m so tired of ill-fitting swag that I don’t bother claim mine anymore because it inevitably ends up in the Goodwill pile.

If the Hoodie Fits…

I’ve broached this topic many times at the companies I’ve worked for, but with limited success. The best case scenario is to allow teams to take matters into their own hands. Give them their own budget to purchase shirts specifically for their team members. I have been on teams (and lead teams) for whom this worked very well.

Former Bejeweled Blitz Team, circa June 2015

Notice in the above image how everyone is happily wearing matching hoodies? That’s because I custom ordered sizes and cuts for each team member. Everyone picked their American Giant size, and then Gorilla Printing added the customization which not only included the IP, but also the person’s name.

I will wear this hoodie until it falls apart.

Is it for sentimental reasons? Sure. Every time I wear it, I think of these people. It’s also the only company hoodie I have ever had that truly fits me.

So…what?

I do not think I am entitled to free clothes from my employer, I am simply pointing out that this is an area in which female employees are not treated equally. I love that tech is a generous industry, but oftentimes the generosity can unintentionally exclude.

Would it really cost so much more to provide women’s sizes? (I’ve done the research: it doesn’t.) And in return for your consideration, companies, your employees would feel even more appreciated and ingrained in the culture.

Next Up…

We’ll discuss clothing and promotions in T-Shirts Don’t Get Promoted.

3 Comment

  1. Ali says: Reply

    I still have the team sweatshirt from Sun Microsystems that we were able to order in our personalized sizes. Still love it and still wear it. And, as a testimony to Lands End products, it still looks great (although the cuffs are starting to fray) 21 years later.

  2. Big Dude says: Reply

    Larger folks who don’t fit into American Giant’s slim fit hoodies might not feel as exuberant. I see some less enthusiastic faces in the photo…

    1. Meg Chaney says:

      Great point! Men definitely have some challenges with “one shape fits all”, as well. That is one more reason it’s important to allow folks to order their own sizes.

      In the case of this photo, the lack of enthusiasm had little to do with the hoodies: the picture was taken on a very sad day. I’ve seen most of these folks proudly wearing their hoodies since then. 🙂

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