Silicon Valley sure is the target of some interesting bull crap, even in my realm of style!
Though I have basically given up on posting comments to information sharing websites like Quora, I’ll occasionally drop by to see what topics people are asking about, and how people are answering those questions.
Here’s a fabulously silly question that makes my head spin, asked by an unknown Quora poster:
“What does it mean when someone says the dress code is “valley formal” and how does this differ from “east coast formal?”
A self-described “Internationalization Strategist,” who tries to come across like a bon vivant, takes a shot at answering this preposterous question. Here’s his answer:
Well, I guess the “Valley Formal” corresponds to the “East Cost Casual Friday”, while the “East Coast Formal” is just what you see in Wall Street movies, where you can take inspiration. The Valley has a very relaxes [sic] tone when it comes to dressing up. Even though I would not suggest wearing jeans when the word “formal” is expressed, I believe you can simply pair kakis [sic] trousers with a nice moccasin and a white shirt (the first 2 buttons left open) - no need of a tie – and if you believe the event requires it, you can add a black or deep blue jacket, which, of course, you’ll wear open.
Whew! Can you see all ready how come Silicon Valley Style gets silly?
As if the question was bad enough, the answer from the man who portends knowing of the finer luxuries in life is somehow even worse. This is why I write a blog every week and am slowly but surely writing a book about Silicon Valley style, and not wasting time answering questions on Quora.
Silicon Valley Style is intentionally devoid of the style and dressing rules that are typical along the East Coast, especially in cities like New York and Boston. Businesses in Silicon Valley are located in suburban areas. That rents for coveted office space along Menlo Park’s storied Sand Hill Road are as high as any in San Francisco or elsewhere around the Bay Area, it’s still a suburban community. If you know anything about the area, the high rents, the firms paying them, and the mammoth companies throughout Silicon Valley, replete with their insular campuses, do not correlate high pay and stock options with being well dressed at the office.
So why the hell try to invent this faux concept of “Valley Formal,” and why try to answer the question by codifying the very thing that Silicon Valley has prided itself for not having: a code! This is precisely how Silicon Valley style gets silly, as far as I’m concerned.
What’s more, Mr. Internationalization Strategist’s suggestion of what sufficiently comprises the ideal appropriate men’s “Silicon Valley formal” attire is the most limited viewpoint I’ve ever heard! When you hear the word “Formal” khakis should never come to mind. Moccasins, a driving style, no doubt, should never come to mind, either.
So, let’s review. Formal means to wear a suit. And in Silicon Valley, you know better than to show up in a tie with your suit, except if you’re in senior management of a more traditionally operated business, or are in finance. These cultural rules are well established in the lexicon of nonverbal communication through the art of dressing to project the right image.
And another thing: the part about leaving the first two shirt buttons open is another crappy blanket statement that doesn’t apply to everyone’s personal style, taste, physique, or grooming standards.
Silicon Valley, I’ll admit, sure is special, even when it comes to its style. But these newly invented style concepts that are supposed to make it easier to define special ways of dressing in Silicon Valley are exactly how Silicon Valley style gets downright silly.
Stop this crazy madness and dress in a way that shows you at your authentic best. You will most definitely fit in to the Silicon Valley culture where being the best and brightest is what it’s all about.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.