Let's be clear: it's pretty silly for serious financial publications to be talking about someone's clothing.
Now I write about style here at RMRS because, frankly, men's clothing is what I do.
It is not what Bloomberg News and Forbes do.
Or at least it wasn't until Tuesday, when a number of market analysts — most famously Michael Pachter, whose tie was badly askew the whole time he was talking — weighed in on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's choice to wear a hoodie to his big IPO meeting on Wall Street.
In a nutshell – he states that Mark Zuckerberg's choice of clothing is a mark of immaturity. Now I wouldn't normally write about this but I have had 5 people in the last 24 hours email me about this and I've seen on one article over 1300 comments in the last 24 hours.
So I'll go ahead and throw my thoughts out there:)
It's interesting to note that a lot of the people criticizing Mr. Zuckerberg are guys who wear a suit every day and work in intensely competitive environments.
Seriously, this is why I don't watch the news.
To all these critics I say – chill out!
Don't get me wrong, suits are great business wear. I make them, design them, and sell them.
And when you want to be taken seriously, especially when money is being thrown around, it is a good idea for ALMOST all men to wear one. If I had to quantify it – perhaps for 99.9999% of men out there I recommend that a suit or sport jacket should be worn when asking for money. If you're selling a high priced idea or on the road raising capital from skeptical investors for your IPO you want to put your best foot forward.
However Mark Zuckerberg isn't any start-up entrepreneur asking for money. He is the one in a billion – at least when it comes to being a young business owner who is in the driver's seat of his company's destiny.
And he knows it. The guy is worth somewhere between $15-20 billion – yea, he lives in an entirely different world.
There are a lot of questions about Facebook's viability as a long-term investment, but Zuckerberg's fashion sense isn't going to affect whether they are going to succeed.
In fact – I think he purposely tries to look like he is the same “normal guy” who founded the company. Perhaps he thinks it'll reassure the world that he won't sell out and set expectations with outsiders that he's about having fun. Maybe the immature comment was a compliment:)
And looking back a few decades, he's playing it very similarly to other big names in technology. You might even say he's following in the footsteps of other Silicon Valley successes who've defied Wall Street fashion. Steve Jobs's turtlenecks or Bill Gates's big sweaters, anyone?
The Point of this article?
When you're a massively proven success, you get to break the rules.
Especially in the world of style. Mark Zuckerberg could dress like Lady Gaga and still have investors throwing money at him.
So although I would love for a man of Mark's exposure to be a leader and inspire men to dress better – it's just not going to happen anytime soon.
However, I would warn any man looking to improve himself to be careful in imitating this tactic. You have to be in a very strong position to be able to do flaunt the dress codes of a society and the defy the negative stereotypes that human beings associate with those they do not understand.
What Can You Take Away From All This?
I think this just goes to show how powerful visuals are in our perception of others. We WANT to believe we're logical human beings making decisions about others based off of their past actions and other things “more important” than looks.
But we're not and we don't.
Instead, we make quick visual judgments based off our desires and natural tendencies – then we try to justify our actions with logic so we feel better about our decisions.
So – If you're not incredibly famous and or successful, people need outward signs that they can trust you with their time and/or money. Wear the suit, get the hair trimmed; play by the rules. A guy who's literally one in a billion gets some slack. A guy who's just maybe one in ten thousand could still use some help from his wardrobe.
And Michael Pachter, fix your tie. You're killing us here.