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?