Silicon Valley style is due for change. We can’t keep ignoring our sartorial side. Consider these ten reasons why our style must evolve.
1. The ‘geek look’ is so passé.
The ‘geek look’ consists of shorts, jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers. Together, they serve the function of covering techies’ bodies in garments selected for comfort because techies are known to work super long hours every day coding. But the reason why the ‘geek look’ is passé is because the style has been done a zillion times to the point where everyone wearing the bland style looks like they are zombie-like, boring people. How can you expect to feel good about yourself, or to have other people find you interesting if you’re still dressing like you’re attending grade school gym class?
2. The hoodie look, in particular, has been done so many times.
Aren’t you just ‘over’ the news media coverage about how Mark Zuckerberg dresses? Just because he may not change it up doesn’t mean you should emulate his lazy style. Clearly, the media has been covering this topic because where there’s smoke there’s fire. Techies may be supportive of the look worn by one of their modern day icons, but the general public is bored of the look – and of the attention it is receiving – except if it’s worn for an athletic purpose.
3. The industry is growing up.
The tech industry created a counterculture attitude that affected company work styles and how people ‘show up’ to do their jobs. The way you look affects your overall communication, whether it’s communicating laziness by exhibiting poor posture, or by conveying disrespect by using inappropriate language. But the tech industry is showing signs that it’s growing up, and it’s time to mature the way you ‘show up’ to work. Looking like a kid when you’re an adult will take you only so far.
4. There’s more money at stake now.
There may be income disparity in the range of high tech and Internet salaries, speaking nothing of the huge paydays awarded to CEO’s and company founders. But generally, there’s more income potential in high tech and Internet careers than ever before. Not only is there an expectation that you should look sharper versus duller, but also people who own stock in your company want to be reassured that their investments are solid. In this global economy, we’re all in this together. It’s not all about you anymore.
5. Lack of self-focus inhibits personal/professional growth.
Clothing carries significant messages to you as a wearer and to others who look at you. The messages may be so subtle that you don’t even think about it. But here’s the thing: you should. If you’re dressing in the ‘geek style,’ it’s absolutely holding you back from advancing your dating social life and your professional growth. You may not hear it from your spouse, if you’re married, that your appearance is an annoyance. And no one from human resources is about to tell you that you didn’t get promoted because they didn’t think you looked prepared to lead. But it’s a reality, and you can change it.
6. Not looking the part of success is a blueprint for setbacks.
Silicon Valley has been, is, and will remain a non-traditional environment. Its creativity and ingenuity is precisely how Silicon Valley companies have catapulted to become among the top businesses anywhere in the world, reshaped the economy, and inspired countless individuals about how possible it is to make ideas become real. However, in only very rare cases has it been possible to look the part of success in T-shirts. While not advocating that Silicon Valley culture shifts into traditional business attire, there’s a sweet spot to style that has gone largely untapped. It’s time for you to look the part of success.
7. There’s more to style than vanity.
The idea of equating how you style yourself with taking excessive pride in your appearance is nothing new. But dressing up isn’t the only way of showing your pride. In Silicon Valley, many people take pride in their dressing down. It’s not exactly a humble way of showing respect toward others. The lazy and sloppy style conveys messages about you that may be totally untrue. Maybe you’re not even lazy and sloppy. But dressed the way so many people do in Silicon Valley, our culture sure looks like it is.
8. When everyone is a rebel, nobody is.
The idea that Silicon Valley techies are rebellious is tied into the lore of its counterculture behavior. But because the techie tribe is known to have a broadly uniform sense of how to look in order to fit in, no one stands out anymore. But you could. All it takes is the decision to exude your inner rebel and be outwardly authentic.
9. The current ‘uniform’ hinders your creativity.
Surely, if you’re blending into the crowd, and looking lazy, it’s going to affect your creativity. When work feels like a bore, it’s got a lot to do with what you bring to it. One of the best ways to create a shift in the energy you bring to your work is to show up like you’ve got energy. Taking the time to look fun, interesting, and engaging does wonders for having a more creative mindset.
10. Your work becomes casual.
I’ve said this for years: leave things to chance and your approach is casual. If you can take your work so casually, you’re not perceived as being on the ball about the work. Style is a physical way of checking and balancing your preparedness for achievement and advancement.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs transform their self-confidence by improving their personal style. Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know which “7 Ways Your Image Is Leading to Low Performance” at josephrosenfeld.com.