Why real techies regret Mark Zuckerberg’s fashion choices

Mark Zuckerberg has a very clear position on fashion:

“I’m in this really lucky position, where I get to wake up every day and help serve more than a billion people. And I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”

Fashion silly? Fashion frivolous?! Honestly, I don’t know how he doesn’t fall asleep getting dressed every morning putting on that gray teeshirt for the 100000000000th time. But thankfully, I recently discovered that not every tech geek has an arrogant and dismissive a position on fashion as Marky Mark.

 

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Not-boring hoodie look #1   – Silk and cashmere blend hoodie from Vestiaire Collective, pants by Celine, bag by Staud, shoes by Steve Madden

As it turns out, I was wrong, at least when it came to these two chaps.

After his second glass of wine, my buddy confessed to me that he has a real penchant for 3-piece suits with french cuffs – especially the french cuffs – a passion he picked up while attending undergrad in Paris. “But wearing a three-piece suit at Google would be career suicide,” he tells me, “I could walk in wearing a skirt and high heels and people would laud me for my individuality and courage, but wear a three-piece suit and you’re dead.”

He’s right. The more I think about it, the more I realize that here in the Bay Area, we have just exchanged one set of strict social codes (white button-up shirt and suit) for another (hoodie and jeans, and the occasional guy in a skirt). Wearing a suit to your coding job at Google here is just as clear a sign that you are not taking your profession seriously as if you wore a hoodie to work at Goldman Sachs in New York. Peter Thiel says in Zero to One that his first investment criteria when evaluating tech companies is whether the founders wear suits (no go) or hoodies (continue the due diligence). A girlfriend of mine who works in tech once told me that when she wore a skirt and heels to work the people in hoodies would ask her to make them coffee (now she wears hoodies).

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Some excellent not-boring hoodie looks, from some excellent bloggers – Pernille Teisbeak and Tiffany Hsu

This got me to thinking. Am I harming my career in the tech world by wearing my Prada shoes to work? What if I wear them with a hoodie? Would that make it any better?

But then I thought, maybe there is an advantage to being different…

I have a theory that most people, deep down, are creative and eccentric, but feel too constrained by social norms to express it. Only when they have achieved a level of comfort and acceptance in society do they let their true eccentric selves shine through. Have you ever noticed how famous public figures often have a very distinctive and eccentric style or some kind of trademark look? And is there an argument to be made for the “fake it till you make it” approach? That is to say, can we, by dressing differently from the norm, project confidence comfort in society, and thereby accelerate our careers?

I leave the question to you, but for now, I have told my friend to try wearing french cuffs to work.

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Not-boring hoodie look #2 – same hoodie, skirt by See by Chloe

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