I’m not going to lie, the term POWER SUIT makes me cringe a bit. Yes, the right suit can help you look powerful, at least if it fits you perfectly, but just donning a suit does not by itself do the job. There are other pieces to the puzzle. So if you’re going into a situation where you want people to sit up and take notice when you walk in, read on for 4 easy tips on how to manage your appearance.
1) Straight lines and angles in patterns and clothing silhouettes signal authority. An easy way to apply the former is with ties: the tie above left is much stronger because of its angularity than the tie to the right with its curved lines. For silhouettes, you can see this everywhere from glasses, to suits, to sport jackets (if you wear glasses, my article on how to choose glasses frames is a must-read). For example, a squared-off jacket shoulder is more commanding than a soft shoulder.
2) Adopting the posture and body language associated with dominance, can change not only how others perceive you, but also how you feel about yourself. Check out this fascinating TED Talk by Harvard Professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy. According to her research, if you spend just two minutes in “power poses” before going into an evaluative situation like a job interview (you can do them in a bathroom stall), the benefits will be considerable.
3) Dark colors in general, and high contrast color combinations like deep navy and white, are commanding and will cause others to perceive you as powerful (that’s why a tuxedo is typically black and white).
4) Crisp clothing textures are more authoritative than rough textures. So if you are going into a situation where you want to be received that way, you should wear a crisp suit, a pressed and non-textured dress shirt and a smooth tie.
The nice thing about looking more powerful is that it actually causes you to feel that way, and that in turn affects how you act, causing you to take more “leader-worthy” steps. Of course, the flip side is that many leaders can appear too dominant, without having communicated warmth in a way that allows them first to build trust with the people they are trying to lead. Stay tuned for more on how to fine-tune your image so that you strike the perfect balance.
Question: I need advice! Looking for a father’s day gift for a CEO that can be used daily! I want to buy a nice, stylish leather portfolio that can also accommodate an iPad. Preferably not a cache with a handle but more of a “man-clutch” for lack of a better word. — Lindsay
Answer: Hey Lindsay, what a nice gift idea! So for your mutch (sounds more manly than “man-clutch”), you want something durable since he’ll be carrying it everyday, and it needs to be strong enough to hold the iPad. Check out Coach’s Crosby Leather Portfolio ($298). It’s the perfect size for an iPad + some other stuff, feels v professional, and won’t scratch because of the pebbled leather. It comes in black or brown here, and a cool striped version here (see below left and right).
Happy Father’s Day to your man, and let me know how you do!
It’s true, nerds run the world, but they are not exactly at the forefront of creative genius when it comes to fashion. Recently, I addressed how CEOs should dress. Today, let’s focus specifically on leaders in the tech industry. Mark Zuckerberg, with his notorious hoodies, is one obvious example of a style SOS. While we can all respect his business accomplishments, his clothing choices don’t send the most positive message. Though there’s nothing wrong with dressing down to an extent as a way of relating to your customer base, Mr. Zuckerberg’s message is so indifferent that it alienates.
A pitfall of successful tech CEOs dressing this way is that it sends a message to those seeking success in the industry that they don’t need to care about their personal presentation either. In fact, the opposite is true. It all matters: your outer image, from clothes to hair, to the state of your fingernails, is the very first thing people notice, and use to form an impression of you. The image of your business is part of a much larger package — one which includes how those who run the business present themselves — even in the tech world.
In contrast, two tech leaders who use appearance to their advantage are Jack Dorsey of Twitter, and Sean Parker of Napster, Spotify, and Airtime (above l-r). Mr. Dorsey sticks to basics — dark, solid suits and light shirts — with impeccable tailoring. He knows what works for him. Because there’s a lot of contrast between his skin and hair colors, he looks excellent in clothing that is high contrast. And Sean Parker’s style is youthful but pulled together, which shows off his playful personality.
Below are my style tips for up-and-coming tech guys:
1) There are plenty of ways to dress well and be comfortable at the same time. In fact, a well-fitting suit made of good quality fabric should feel as comfortable as a second skin. So, get yourself a killer custom suit.
2) A pair of faded dad-jeans is no easier to wear than a great pair of straight-leg jeans (try J. Crew). Look for a crisp, dark rinse with no excess detailing on the pockets.
3) Keep a blazer in your office. That way, you can throw it on quickly if you get called into an impromptu meeting. Wear it over a dress shirt, henley, a t-shirt, or a polo shirt. It works with jeans too.
4) If you wear sneakers to the office, make sure they’re a neutral, classic style. Save your athletic sneakers for when you’re actually exercising.
5) Don’t go overboard when creating a signature style. The point of clothing is to flatter, not to distract.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. How do you think a tech CEO should dress? And what do you think of Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie…yay, nay, dependay?