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April 4-10, 2007

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Post these threads: Looking good looks good to Silicon Valley these days.

The New Rules of Silicon Valley Style

By Joseph Rosenfeld

A CURRENT article that I came across features the tech industry's brightest leaders under 30 years old who are most likely to shape the digital future. Of the 16 men featured—who are the faces representing 13 businesses—seven of them were wearing sport jackets or suits. Until recently, you'd be hard pressed to find men in tech dressed this way. This is not the same sloppy Silicon Valley style that has been the fodder of fashion snobs. Sure, not everyone was suited up, and no one was wearing a tie, but the idea of dressing for success is alive and well, in new ways.

Clearly these Next Gen Mavericks are on an aggressive campaign for the public's attention and for the coin of venture capitalists. And, they look the part they are playing.

Dressing down at the workplace got its start right here in Silicon Valley, and it soon became the norm in almost every other industry throughout the world. But now it seems that dressing down has resulted in everyone dressing pretty much the same: women wearing dark and tight trousers with nondescript pastel blouses and men dressed in baggy chinos with boring blue button-downs. Most office workers have developed an identity based on anonymity. Looking the same as your cube neighbor is not a good formula for advancing a career! Life may seem unfair at a moment such as this, but the business world appears resolute that looks convey credibility. Your boss may want to promote someone who appears to have it all.

The fact is that dressing down has made us all feel down about our work and about ourselves. It's time to take a new path when it comes to dynamically dressing to reflect a more positive and focused approach to your job and how you feel about life in general. I like to call it personal power dressing.

But until you develop your own personal style and show it, you'd be hard pressed to get anyone to see you for who you truly are.

The New Rules of Silicon Valley Style:

  • Dressing down means you're looking like everyone else who dresses down, and how cool is that?
  • Start to power dress for yourself. You'll be amazed about the positive effect on yourself, your career and others.
  • Look like you're ready for the position you want versus the position you have.
  • Update your wardrobe with new styles that are classic to your industry.
  • Style your hair so that it doesn't look like you just crawled out of bed.
  • Men, keep your facial hair neatly groomed; women, don't overdo the makeup.
  • In the corporate world, accessories and color give you a chance to rise above your suit.
  • Don't compromise your competence by dressing down to meet with casual clients.

  • Joseph Rosenfeld, AICI, CIP, the nation's only male certified image professional, is a men's image mentor based in downtown San Jose. Contact him at: [email protected].

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