Silicon Valley, of course, is known for its casual dress, which means t-shirts, jeans and sneakers. But don't be fooled, techies care a lot more about fashion than they let on. Or put another way, there’s a lot of code in the Silicon Valley dress code.
In fact, engineer Alexey Komissarouk boasted he could tell if people were in tech and what they did by just looking at their dress. I met him a few months ago at the FWD.us hackathon and I asked him to show me his super power. He agreed and we met in downtown Palo Alto.
Before we got started, Komissarouk explained that the Silicon Valley is full of tribes: there are the engineers, designers, product managers, salespeople, entrepreneurs and VCs. And each tribe has its uniform.
The engineers? T-shirts, jeans and hoodies, of course.
“Hoodie signals young talent,” said Dan Woods, a techie we stopped on the street.
Woods walked by us and Komissarouk nudged me and said, “That guy, he’s a VC.”
The tip off? A zippered v-neck sweater.
“That’s like classic VC and then you got the button down underneath it, that’s like the classic uniform,” Komissarouk said.
We stopped Woods and asked him. Turns out, he did work in venture capital, which is about when he got the sweater.
Turns out the uniform is a long time tradition in tech, says Erik Schnakenberg, a co-founder of Buck Mason, a start-up that sells men's clothing online.
"I wear a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt almost everyday," Schnakenberg said. "It's one less thing to think about."
In the fast-moving world of tec, the idea is to show that your'e not wasting precious time on something as vain as fashion. Schnakenberg says the uniform hasn't changed much but tech is attracting a lot more of the cool kids and they care about fashion.
It's also why I keep my head shaved myself. One less thing to think about when I roll out of bed.
...at work it’s strictly blue or gray suits. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make,” he tells Lewis. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”