“Corporate Wear” for Women: Reflections on Mark Zuckerberg’s Hoodie

“Does wearing jeans and sneakers, as a woman, make you any less competent, equipped, mature or well-adjusted than women in corporate wear?”

– I thought to myself as I sat in a meeting.

[I was wearing jeans, suede Converse sneakers and, to be a bit presentable, a sand-colored long-sleeved shirt, exactly like this one worn by Marion, from France, whom I do not look like at all.]

This is Marion from France. I do not look like her. I just have that same shirt in white and beige.

The easy answer to my question is “no”, right?

But, look at the corporate environment where you work.

Please tell me if there are women in positions of power who wear sneakers and t-shirts.  I need to not feel like a freak.

A month or so ago, there was this hullaballoo about Mark Zuckerberg wearing a hoodie to his Wall Street investors pitch (I first read it in the New York Times Bits Blog; it’s also featured in CNN, Bloomberg, Forbes, etc.).

People bestowed it with all sorts of symbolism – about the cultural divide between Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

At least, though, Mark Zuckerberg probably gets away with wearing hoodies to work.

Steve Jobs gets away with his running shoes.

But I would love to see the day-to-day wardrobe of top women in business, even in Silicon Valley.

See, my definition of success, for a long time, has been “the privilege of getting to wear what I’m comfortable with to work, while still having people’s respect”.

I’ve always envied this man I was with in an elevator.  He’s an industry bigshot, and, on that day, he was wearing jeans, and a plain white shirt which was so worn it had holes along the side.  I told myself that someday, I want to be just like that – have enough achievement to and gall to credibly mock the system. As the New York Times article mentioned, similar to Zuckerberg’s and Job’s “anti-fashion statement”.

Image from The New York Times

I’m slowly realizing, though, as I stay longer in my job and interact with people higher up the corporate ladder, that there isn’t much room for t-shirts, jeans and sneakers when you’re a woman who wants to command a certain level of respect in meetings with executives.

That’s even when the other executives are wearing sneakers as well. (Since I work in a broadcasting and production outfit).

Coincidentally, this month’s Fast Company issue features the “league of extraordinary women”.  As usual, I like the structure of their web feature on the topic.

But, more than that, this made me want to see how these top women presented themselves.  To check whether there was hope for sneaker-wearing women to stay true to themselves when in managerial positions in corporations.

Here’s what looking at a few profiles turned up:

Lily Cole, Brand Ambassador for Body Shop
Gabi Zedlmayer, HP’s VP for Global Social Innovation
Cherie Blair, Founder – The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
Tory Burch, Founder – Tory Burch Foundation

Granted, this was a magazine feature, so they are probably being primped and dolled up.

I know, I know, they’re just clothes, and I might be making a big deal.

Wearing “corporately-acceptable” clothes doesn’t diminish your values or convictions.  It’s just that neither should casual clothes diminish competence and respectability.

I understand that these women might wear a whole different set of clothes while at work, which is why these make me happy:

Jessica Jackley, Founder – Kiva
Susan Davis – President, BRAC USA
Grace Bonney – Founder, DesignSponge

And, fine, I should stop discriminating against women who wear popularly fashionable clothing, in the same way that I clamor for stopping the discrimination against casual clothes.

But, continuing with the fun, I decided to post the first Google Image associated with the corporate leaders in Fast Company’s 2011 Most Influential Women in Tech.

These women are AMAZING.  I am very glad I went through the list, and I suddenly feel very shallow about even thinking about something such as work clothes.

Prerna Gupta, code-writing former beauty queen with computer science and economics degrees from Stanford

Prerna Gupta – CEO, Khush

..who, I’m happy to see, also wears t-shirts and jeans to presentations!

from flickr user thakurprashantsingh
from flickr user thakurprashantsingh
Alisa Miller – CEO, Public Radio International

Nichole Goodyear, head of an award-winning, innovative social media agency built on a cost-per-engagement model.

Nichole Goodyear – CEO, Brickfish

Jessica Kahn manages engineering, operations and strategy for Disney’s mobile application development.

Jessica Kahn – VP of Engineering, Disney Mobile

Kellee Santiago, who leads her team in making accessible games for even previously untapped gaming markets.

Kellee Santiago – President, thatgamecompany

Heather Harde, who spearheaded building an in-house ad-sales team, developed conferences and events, and created a research arm to grow TechCrunch’s business.

Heather Harde, Managing Director, AOL’s tech properties, and Former CEO of TechCrunch

Cher Wang, one of the richest people in the world, and runs the company that came out with the first Android phone.

Cher Wang – CEO, HTC

And, these last two help show that objectification can happen no matter where you are in the corporate ladder…

I saved the two seemingly most “popularly seen as hot” ones for last.

I guess they can’t help that they’re gorgeous, smart and savvy.

Marissa Mayer, one of Google’s first female engineers, who graduated in symbolic systems with honours from Stanford, and has a masters degree in computer science from the same university.

Marissa Mayer – VP of Consumer Products, Google

and….

Rachel Sterne (who sometimes has an eery resemblance to Katherine McPhee), who was a U.N. political reporter, used to run a hyperlocal news service, that distributed live online reports from the people directly experiencing “the news” and now the chief digital officer for New York city.

Rachel Sterne – Former CEO, GroundReport

This is the second photo in her Google Search stream:

Sterne (NYC Chief Officer for Digital) and Max Haot – CEO, Livestream

Now, let’s look at the first five male leaders or figureheads in Fast Company’s 2012 Most Innovative Companies.

(Darn it, I should have been more specific and said, I would observe the first full body pictures in the Google Image stream.

Because, now it looks like a headshot-attractiveness thing.

Sorry, to all the individuals in pictures here, if this seems a bit invasive.  I realized collecting the images suddenly seemed creepily voyeuristic. I’m tempted to Google myself to “even the score”.)

All in all, the conclusion is – I realized it isn’t so bad.  If you stick your neck out and prove yourself, I’m guessing you can eventually get away with what you want to wear.  It isn’t about the packaging really (even the boys have to play by the corporate rules, sometimes), it just all depends on the strength of character and actual skills you have to pull of the success.  Cool.

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Does anyone else wish their life were like a Vimeo video?: 5 of my favorites

Or is it just me?

Sundrenched.  With lens flares here and there and saturated or overexposed color, with blur in the right places.  Clear skin and glowing eyes, “hip” musical accompaniment all around.

And I know this is heavily affected by my search queries, but all the free time, sense of adventure, dedication to making videos of yourself having fun in an attractive way.  Surf, sand, sea, not a care in the world and free-as-a-bird youth lifestyle.

Presenting, my favorite vimeo video: Taj Burrow’s Fiji Vignette Part 3

The best lookbook I’ve seen so far.  Pretty, pretty girl.  Cute storytelling.  And the coolest girlish swimsuit designs I’ve seen.  Granted, the model’s body is amazing, but besides that, the designs themselves are simple, but smart.

Continue reading “Does anyone else wish their life were like a Vimeo video?: 5 of my favorites”

Design links: Prettily creative kids’ crafts’ site; Hiroki Nakamura, my style icon, fun typography features and manufactured-ly “vintage” design

1. MiniEco.co.uk

Aaargh, visually arresting site for crafting with kids!

I love the rainbow sprinkles-popcorn feature and all the rainbow objects!

2.  Hiroki Nakamura and VISVIM

This man is one of my style icons.  Not all his products really, but more of how he carries himself.  And how he’s able to pull off green bead necklaces with crisp shirts, and still seem like a gruff, straight but sophisticated man.

I also like his backpacks, and his retail philosopy.

VISVIM Laminaria Kudu

3. Onion Typography featured in CMYBacon

Onion Typography by André Baumecker

4.  Mid-Century Modern Typefaces Identified, featured in CMYBacon

Lubalin Graphic Bold – MCMTypefaces.Tumblr

5.  I like the old school, rough and artisanal design feel, so I enjoy this list of

40 Vintage and Retro Web Design Inspirations from InspirationFeed

Still raining. More time for Internet.

UPDATE: The search is over.

You’re beautiful, brown leather Converse Chuck Taylor Ox Slim.

Because of the rain proving the watertightness of my shoes, I’ve recently been on a shoe-googling frenzy.

I eventually want to find dapper-looking sneakers.  I already have a grunge-y but classic pair, and a sleeker pair for really wearing down every day.  So, I want something that’s still a sneaker, but…”dressier”.

I guess I’ll just collect pictures of ones that I liked here. For future decision-making.  If any one out there has reviews on these brands, or the specific shoes, feel free to comment.  I really want to find a pair that will last.  I’ve worn down too many sneakers that I loved.

Adidas Women’s Adria PS

DC Studio
DC Riviera TX
K-Swiss All Court Tennis, image from SoleTrader

Also, a pretty handsome wallet. Clean lines. Warm color. Lots of room.

Bellroy Take Out wallet

While surfing for shoes, I saw The Curator’s Life.  Which has pretty interesting posts.

+ Pool

A project, by Family and PlayLab, a floating pool that filters the water that it’s floating in. via The Curator’s Life

+ Pool

Deep Fried Kool-Aid?!

via The Curator's Life

Originally created by “Chicken Charlie”, recipes can be found here and here.

Trail: independent fashion bloggers

Following the trail from “365 dresses”.

via TheButtonOwl

1.

Link in picture: “Taking a little spin off the ‘does dressing outrageously affect your ability to pull’ post… Do you have to dress outrageously for your blog to get noticed? The two biggest fashion bloggers to my knowledge are Susie Bubble and Tavi, both very loud dressers…

Do you really have to dress outrageously to get noticed? Does being ‘weird’, so to say, make you better celeb-quality than the average girl?”

from StyleBubble

2.

3.

Street Peeper

4.

thisisnaive Rice Porridge

5.  For Marie.

igorandandre