Saboteur: a fashion makeover for Silicon Valley

Kristen Slowe, creator of Saboteur men's clothing, is taking on Silicon Valley one disheveled tech geek at a time. And Slowe knows from tech geeks. She's married to Reddit founder Christopher Slowe, who has a Ph.D. from Harvard in Math and Physics. He's the kind of guy who has things on his mind other than what he's wearing -- exactly Mrs. Slowe's target customer. One might argue that Silicon Valley execs don't care enough about their wardrobe to purchase anything from Saboteur. Slowe suspected as much, so she ran an online survey that found her Silicon Valley business friends did care. They said they felt outgunned fashion-wise by colleagues in places like NYC where cargo shorts are not typically acceptable business meeting attire. Armed with that intel and a passion to knock some fashion sense into startup culture, Slowe, a FIDM graduate, secured a partnership with Justin Kan of Justin.tv fame, and designed a line of shirts and sport coats that are beautifully tailored but accessible for fashion newbies.

A seemingly simple plaid shirt, for example, has French cuffs. The highlight of the line is the "Invincible" jacket ($800, other jackets are $350), which would be perfectly appropriate at a business meeting in the most cosmopolitan locale. It features functional cuff buttons, red contrast stitching, and a gorgeous red silk lining. It's also completely water proof, wind proof, stain resistant and breathable, with taped seams to really keep the moisture out. Perfect for foggy San Francisco bike commutes. The interior pockets are tailored to hold electronics without sagging, complete with a slot for headphones to slip through, natch. The collection includes four other jackets and six shirt styles ($125 each). Slowe will soon find out if geeks are willing to step up their style game. Saboteur opens for business online Wednesday. Disclosure: Kristen Slowe is a friend, and my husband modeled for the website. But he still happily payed for his jacket!

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  1. I’m in the target audience. I don’t live in the Valley but I am a geek who’d like to dress a little nicer but doesn’t from lack of time and knowledge about what works and what doesn’t. Sign me up.

  2. Looks interesting, but are they really selling to techs? I mean, I see lots of skinny hipster guys who have obvious swim/pilates time wearing suits. Show me a model who looks like he could lift a fully populated server into a rack and mount it on his own wearing one of these jackets.

    My biggest problem in finding clothes that fit are that my thighs and chest are often way too big for these kinds of clothes- that is why I dress the way I do, not because I can’t find the clothes, or am not interested in fashion, but because they are cut for twiggy little emo men who spend more time watching their figures than working on code and managing their own systems. That, and the clothes I’ve come across aren’t worth the cash invested if they fall apart from regular daily wear (biking to work, racking servers, lots of sitting with the jacket on instead of gracefully draping it over my personal titanium coat rack).

    Even better- show me John MadDog Hall or ESR wearing these in action, and I’ll be more interested.

    1. Go to a tailor. They’ll see to your thighs and chest. They’ll even correct for things like posture, etc.

      If you’re mostly lifting stuff all the time, you won’t need more than one suit, and one good suit will see you not just for formal work situations, but weddings, evening parties, etc.

      Plenty of Italian men cycle-commute in their suits. Also, you can certainly dress down an odd suit jacket — wear with chinos or jeans. Just take off when you don’t need it (and it will do just fine on the back of your non-titanium chair), like any other jacket or sweater.

      @4: I find it simplistic to decide whether suits or not-suits imply power. At some point in an environment where everyone expects to be casual, deciding to stick out, even in a suit, *is* a declaration of power. I always think it’s silly when somebody comes into work vaguely dressed up — say, in a dress shirt instead of a t-shirt! Gasp! — and everybody makes a faux big deal about it. It’s like a bizarro dress code.

      My boyfriend works in the digital effects industry in Toronto, and his workplace is pretty casual (t-shirt, jeans, cargo shorts). Without my prompting, he’s wanted to dress more professionally, because it’s actually more versatile — a little more tailoring, more collared shirts, shoes instead of sneakers means he can easily switch from work to evenings out or events.

      @8: “the thin rails spend all day shivering in the office.”

      You can wear sweaters (zip-up, if you prefer) with dress shirts; it’s kind of amazing.

      It already sounds like your workplace is business-casual (no ties?), not business, so rolling up sleeves or wearing short-sleeve dress shirts ought to do.

      1. Thanks. I already know about tailors, but finding one who will make me something durable, wearable, and comfortable hasn’t happened yet. That, and I’m not willing to pay a premium to experiment on their skill at sewing up a jacket for me.

        I tend to wear clothes I like- a lot. If I find a jacket I like, it doesn’t come off unless it needs to. That, and if my mind is on my work, I’ll often forget to take it off then as well. I guess this is why the casual culture exists so strongly in the Sili Valley. At least I remember to shower and wash my clothes.

    2. It’s called a tailor. You buy the clothes, the tailor fixes anything that might need adjustment. If your clothes fit properly, you can do almost anything in them (emphasis on ‘almost’). I could show you Bruce Lee demonstrating his skill casually while wearing a suit if you like.

      1. A tailor won’t make a 46 fit on a 52. That was my complaint about the sizing and the models chosen. There are a lot of guys my size who work 12 hour days doing all sorts of activities (racking, coding, etc), some of which are surprise business meetings. The only exercise I get is getting to and from the job, occasional calisthenics when I can fit them in, and weekends (when work isn’t calling, no white water rafting for me).

  3. I think there’s a lot of implied power in *not* wearing suits. I’m reminded of the Apple exec who was given the hint during some negotiation or other that Steve Jobs (and, I’m guessing, he himself) should wear a suit to the discussions. The exec responded, “This is Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even *own* suits.”

  4. That, and the clothes I’ve come across aren’t worth the cash invested if they fall apart from regular daily wear (biking to work, racking servers, lots of sitting with the jacket on instead of gracefully draping it over my personal titanium coat rack).

    Silicon Valley business friends did care. They said they felt outgunned fashion-wise by colleagues in places like NYC where cargo shorts are not typically acceptable business meeting attire.

    It sounds as though these are clothes meant to be worn in business meetings, not for when you are racking servers. If your daily wear doesn’t involve business meetings, then these are probably not the clothes you are looking for for that.

    However, if you are trying to sell your [insert tech thing or business idea here] to investors or to the business that would be using it, then these clothes sound right on the mark. It’s all about context.

  5. Yep, those aren’t clothes for racking servers or whatever.

    If you’re having problems finding nice clothes that fit you well, you need to go somewhere that will tailor the suit to fit you. If money is an issue, keep in mind you easily make do (I do) with only one or two and a variety of shirts.

    A lot of places will keep your measurements on file, so if you go back for just some slacks or shirts, you don’t have to go through the entire measuring process again.

    As for the “they are cut for twiggy little emo men who spend more time watching their figures than working on code” . . . really? All you’re doing is make yourself sound insecure. Regardless of your size, you can look good if you put effort into it. And when I say “effort”, I mean an hour at a men’s clothing store once every year or two.

    If that’s not your thing, that’s fine. Saying that you can’t isn’t an excuse though.

  6. Heh. When Doug Humphrey used to go to the big boys for the odd million in venture capitol, he’d have this gigantic talking white bird sitting on his shoulder.

    If you have the chops, you don’t need to dress up. Red paint won’t make a car go any faster.

    On an unrelated note, I wanted to share with y’all the reason for buttons on cuffs: So Napoleon’s “Old Grumblers” would stop wiping their noses on their pretty uniform sleeves. And ties are descended from cravats, which became fashionable because Louis XIV wore them, because he had a big ol’ goiter on his neck. History of fashion is fun!

  7. Buried in an article in GQ, on the return of the three piece suit, was an anecdote about a young corporate worker (I think in Seattle) who decided to elevate his wardrobe beyond the business-casual Dockers worn by his co-workers. The young man had several custom suits made, which he started wearing to work. He was then called into the HR office and told that he was creating a hostile work environment, by dressing better than his co-workers. He was told to stop.

  8. I fully acknowledge that you are stupid if you don’t dress in over priced clothing of a particular style when at work. That said, it is fucking annoying and stupid. When I think of all the things I want out of an engineer or researcher, dressing pretty is dead last on my list. Not only that, I recognize that some times dressing “nice” actually makes one’s job harder. A brain dead idiot with a double digit IQ can stuff themselves into a button up shirt. It isn’t a sign of anything other than that you are willing to bend to some social norms that are completely non-sense.

    In my work, we go into clean rooms. A clean room coverall (think Intel commercial) can get hot. Every engineer worth their salt has to go into the clean room on occasion. By far, the most practical thing to wear in there is a light t-shirt so you don’t overheat and maybe have a sweat shirt at your desk so you don’t freeze to death in the subarctic office area.

    What happens instead is that everyone wears their tucked in button up with khakis in the generic engineer uniform style. The poor bastards who have a little heft on them come out of the clean room with some awesome pit stains, and the thin rails spend all day shivering in the office. Everyone wastes money buying work clothes, and the office looks extremely dull. But hey, it is all worth it because we get to stand around looking generic at each other. I should also mention that we never see customers.

    Dress codes and, far more importantly, the cultural of acceptance, should only go as far as it needs to go to prevent profanity that would make people uncomfortable. The fact that wearing a t-shirt is a surefire way to make sure you never get promoted past underling is, in my opinion, criminal and stupid. So, great there is this overpriced clothes line to make geeks feel comfortable, but it pisses me off that it is needed in the first place. People need to grow up and realize that a brain dead model can look pretty and is still a brain dead model not competent to flip your burgers (I’m not impling that all models are brain dead).

  9. I actually consider the ability to wear jeans and t-shirts to work a perk that comes with my silicon valley software engineering job. I *like* that people around here are judged by the quality of their work more than the fanciness of their dress. A $125 shirt won’t help me track down a memory leak or implement a JSON parser any better.

    I feel like the lack or required formalities (like dress codes and core working hours) is a victory we’ve won in this industry, and I see no reason to go back to old-fashioned east coast ways.

  10. I hope for your friend’s sake that this comment thread isn’t an indicator of how the techies at large are going to react to her offerings.

  11. Wow. This person did her due diligence and gathered data through a survey to confirm the existence and preferences of a market, and all I hear are people going, “This doesn’t apply to me,” and thus trying to call bullshit on her research. If there’s a market out there that isn’t you, what’s it to you? Except the moral indignation that not everyone’s like you?

  12. “What happens instead is that everyone wears their tucked in button up with khakis in the generic engineer uniform style. The poor bastards who have a little heft on them come out of the clean room with some awesome pit stains, and the thin rails spend all day shivering in the office.”

    Undershirts. The skinny guys will be warmed by the extra layer, and the heavy guys can take off the dress shirt and not stick to their coveralls.

    1. No dude, the solution really is just to ditch the expectations for dress on anyone who isn’t customer facing. If you are judging the worth of an employee based upon how much time and money they waste trying to conform to the mind numbingly dull business casual style, you are doing it wrong.

      I am a Northeast boy, but I did job interviews in Silicon Valley. The first interview out there I dressed in a suit and got strange looks. After that, I stopped. It was extremely refreshing to just wear some normal clothing and see people doing the same. It didn’t seem like a lack of generic engineer uniforms or the unwillingness to buy two sets of outfits, one for work and one for the rest of their lives was destroying any of these companies. In fact, the employees seemed a lot more relaxed.

      I didn’t move out to Silicon Valley because to my eyes that place looks like one very large upscale strip mall, but I wish the Northeast would adopt the laid back attitude, especially for dress. You gain nothing other than uncomfortable and stressed engineers have silly or implied or enforced dress codes.

      1. The idea that there are “work clothes” and “clothes for the rest of your life” is a false dichotomy, as is the idea that a certain dress code necessarily causes stress. Who says you can’t wear button-up shirts after work? Or a jacket? Or khakis? My boyfriend actually wears khakis exclusively, and hasn’t owned a pair of jeans since middle school.

        Wearing dress shirts doesn’t have to destroy your life (or your company). It’s a matter of attitude, equipping yourself with knowledge and resources, and achieving a comfort level.

        While I agree that valuing a person’s dress sense over their professional abilities is silly (although I doubt genuinely good bosses would ever promote on that one factor alone), recognizing and attempting to meet a particular sense of style in a workplace is a (small) way of expressing professionalism. It shows you’re paying attention to details, able to read unsaid codes, etc. Of course, if you’re a coding *genius* and basically carrying the company on your back, I’m sure you wouldn’t be fired even if you showed up in a burlap sack.

        Frankly, I agree that if you’re a behind-the-scenes tech guy, does it really matter what you wear as long as it’s clean and doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable?

        But IF your work requires you to dress up, it really doesn’t have to be a burden, it can be very affordable (not talking about $800 jackets, of course) and even if it’s not, it can be a good investment.

        1. The idea that there are “work clothes” and “clothes for the rest of your life” is a false dichotomy, as is the idea that a certain dress code necessarily causes stress. Who says you can’t wear button-up shirts after work? Or a jacket? Or khakis? My boyfriend actually wears khakis exclusively, and hasn’t owned a pair of jeans since middle school.

          Of course you can wear khaki pants and a button up shirt after work. The point is that I don’t freaking want to. I enjoy my work, but seriously, I work to live, I don’t live to work. The second they stop paying, I stop coming. If I win the lottery, I quit the next day. If I have to work to live, I am doing what I want, but let’s think for a moment that working is my life.

          Why on earth would I let work infest more of my life than it already does? I have to lose the liberty to dress outside of an engineer uniform during my off time too? No thanks. Work already prevents me from covering myself in tattoos, dying my hair green, and doing it up in liberty spikes. I don’t need it to go ravage my closet as well so that I can be completely assured to look like every other ‘just out of work’ asshole in this world even on my off time.

          While I agree that valuing a person’s dress sense over their professional abilities is silly (although I doubt genuinely good bosses would ever promote on that one factor alone), recognizing and attempting to meet a particular sense of style in a workplace is a (small) way of expressing professionalism. It shows you’re paying attention to details, able to read unsaid codes, etc.

          This is a mindless statement. A person who is literally retarded can stuff themselves into a pair of khakis and tuck in a button up shirt. The only thing it takes to stuff yourself into a generic engineer uniform is a pulse. Proving that you recognize the shallow and pointless dress code and then conforming to it doesn’t prove anything other than that you are willing to conform to a pointless dress code. Ability to adhere to pointless traditions falls dead last on the list of worthwhile ways to prove you can do your job well. The stupidest of meat heads who struggle with basic math can easily (and often times more easily) cram themselves into a work uniform. Hell, I recall in college that my fellow engineers taking courses that would leave most college students in tears tended to dress shabby while the guy getting his bachelors in business taking ‘advanced power point’ were always dressed to the nines. Clearly, there is zero correlation between prettiness and conformity of dress and technical ability.

          Don’t get me wrong, I do it. I dress in the way expect because I know that there are people shallow enough to think that adhering to a particular aesthetics some how influences my abilities as an engineer, but lets not think for a moment that this isn’t anything other than stupid and destructive. The only reason to do it is because people expect you to do it. That is it. If it was expected that you need to sacrifice a goat each morning at work, I would sacrifice a goat. That would be just as dumb.

          1. If it was expected that you need to sacrifice a goat each morning at work, I would sacrifice a goat.

            I dunno about goats, but most days I try to sacrifice a kitten before work.

            I’d dress nicer if I could ever convince myself that the higher cost of nicer clothing was worth it. My experience with slacks is with the cheap kind you find at WalMart, where all my stuff falls out of the pockets when I’m in ‘coding position’ (sitting, deeply reclined, in front of a keyboard) and the cheap fabric is just uncomfortable and usually rides up and squashes my nuts. Same with the cheap button-downs (except the nuts part), if they fit across the shoulders, then the abdomen fits like a circus tent (I’m not built like most geeks, some of whom have the opposite problem).

            I’m confident that high quality or tailored clothing would fix these problems, but I have a difficult time justifying a bill-n-half on a nice pair of slacks when I could get a perfectly good pair of jeans and another LCD monitor for the same price somewhere like Old Navy (well, they don’t have the LCDs there, of course, UPS brings those).

            Regarding ‘Put This On’s response; it makes me wonder about the name ‘Saboteur’.

          2. I think you and others miss the point: It’s not about skill (that’s a complete non-point) but of professionalism. Which, of course, corresponds to local custom.

            Skill and clothing do not correlate, true, but so don’t table manners (the local cafeteria would be a good example of that), personal hygiene, and so on.

  13. @11 Yeah, wearing suits in a casual environment is the same sort of thing. (And the reactions from others tend to be the same.)

    Personally, I tend to wear a sports jacket and cargo pants (I like pockets.) I don’t even know where that would be considered normal.

  14. This is definitely a improvement, but guys, please: TUCK YOUR SHIRT IN! Untucked striped shirt, jeans and dress shoes is just plain lazy. Yes, it’s better than cargo shorts and Tevas, but it’s still gross.

    1. Tucking a shirt in is impractical and uncomfortable for me. Fashion-wise, unless it is a fitted shirt you get a terrible bulge around the waist. Comfort-wise, It adds two layers between my boxers and pants, which leads to an uncomfortable, sweaty waistline.

  15. Unfortunate but true: people judge you based on how you look. It’s the first thing they know about you and first impressions are hard to shake. Super smart people can get discounted if they dress like slobs but then again, do you really want someone who can’t even manage to put a little care into their appearance working for you? Or, in the case of these guys who are probably dealing with investors, handling your money? And for the geeks, trust me, nothing sucks worse than realizing you are the only person in the room in jeans because you know they are all looking down on you for it. It makes you look like a clueless rube and recovering from that is hard.

    Does she ever plan to do a women’s line? I’d be all over the Invincible jacket if she did.

  16. They can have my geek t-shirts when they pry them out of my dead cold fingers!

    I don’t work in the US, and dress code for work in my country tends to be more relaxed than in the US. But I rather work for a company where the dress code is “yes, please wear something”. In my line of work (coding) it works more like this: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2004-11-07/

    I would raise an eyebrow if a coder came to work wearing a suit and they weren’t on their way to a business meeting (well, two eyebrows really… and stare… and wonder if they had been to a job interview somewhere).

  17. Kristen – which one’s your husband? There’s some dreamy geeks on saboteur’s site.

    Guys, look. Dress in jeans, cargo pants, whatever’s appropriate for what you do. Just take some care with it. Make sure everything’s clean, maybe even ironed.

    It’s perfectly fine to put some care into your appearance. Create a personal uniform and stick to it.

    1. Hi Jonathon, he’s the handsome dude in the striped shirt in the photo above :) And I totally agree, dress in what makes you comfortable. Some dudes feel confident and energized when they look sharp. And this is an easy way to get there — throw on the jacket with a t shirt or a shirt with jeans. Not exactly an east coast banker uniform :)

  18. Wow, mucho hostility towards the suit here. I disagree completely.

    High quality business dress doesn’t have to be flashy or uncomfortable. An entry-level hire shouldn’t wear Brioni with unbottoned gauntlets. An entry-level hire SHOULD wear clothes that are made to last, fit well, and work together.

    If you want to dress well for work, get custom clothes from MyTailor.com. They measure you here, then make it in China, $80 a pop. Get 2 white shirts, 2 blue shirts, 1 pink shirt, and you’re set for the next 10 years. I guarantee you won’t get called by HR for wearing perfectly fitting shirts.

    If you want a suit, drop a grand at W. W. Chan, they do the same process. But don’t wear a suit every day unless your coworkers do. You want people to see you and think “that guy looks good,” not “why is that guy wearing a suit.”

    Another argument for business dress: it is cheaper to dress well for business than to dress well for casual. Designer T’s and jeans cost money. A Goodwill blazer and shirt (plus shirt alterations!) is frequently cheaper.

    For additional sartorial advice, try styleforum.com. Those guys REALLY care about clothes, and there’s plenty of photos to train the eye.

  19. Good luck to this lady but then again the valley is a place where Steve Jobs shows up to the opera in blue jeans and a black turtle neck.

    My husband owns something like 9 Dockers in various colors which he wears proudly with tshirts bragging product releases. Pretty much everyone keeps sweaters when they have to spend time in the bloody cold labs but no one wears anything fancier. He owns two coats and wears them twice a year for parties only because he hangs out with VPs and other suits. Lol. He has a few dress shirts that he wears to weddings etc and looks super cute but he does not care about clothes at all.
    From what I see, the valley kids are more into cars, bikes and gadgets than clothes.

    And it is odd for me that some BB authors are making yogurt to save $ but then other posts celebrate needless wastage on supercilious clothes sold in a place where merit is valued most.

  20. Looks like yet another line of clothes for skinny little dudes with no shoulders or meat on their bones. XL is 46? Really? GMAFB.

    I’m all for dressing nice — I’m a bit of a clothes horse, truth be told — but I’m also not a small guy. I wasn’t small when I was a fitness and diet maniac 10 years ago, and I’m less small at 40. I’m sick to death of “fashion” vendors who create clothes for anorexic waifs of either gender (yeah, I know it’s more of a problem for women, but I’d hope we’d be moving AWAY from this instead of embracing it in the men’s departments).

    “Real” clothes from “real” makers accommodate dudes who don’t look like they’d blow away in the first stiff breeze.

    1. That was the point I was trying to make in my comment. I have a 52 inch chest and a 21 inch neck. A lot of my friends are pretty big too. These won’t even come close to fitting.

  21. The thing about nice clothes that a lot of geeks just do not get is that they’re every bit as comfortable as jeans and a t-shirt. Possibly even more so. Going out of the house in a pair of Tencel pants feels like going out in the most comfortable pair of pajamas you’ve ever had. Softer off the rack than your most favorite worn-in pair of jeans. It takes no more time to throw on a sport coat with a swanky lining than it does to throw on a hoodie.

    It’s almost like cheating.

  22. the problem i have with dressing nicely or professionally is that when I come to work, I might be in for a day of part spec or design in my office, or i might be in for a day of machining or assembly out in the shop. thus cargo pants and dime a dozen t-shirts.

    when i go out into the world, i might be in for a nice dinner out with friends, or i might end up partying in the woods and sleeping in my car.

    i have a beard because i find shaving annoying, and i have long hair – you guessed it – because i find hair cuts annoying. i wear whatever i’ve acquired in the last ten years as long as there aren’t too many holes (i wear those when i expect to get dirty/sweat, where the extra ventilation and thinness of the worn fabric is welcome) because… i find shopping annoying.

    it is this same theme that dictates why i wash my car perhaps twice a year, and why that car has no bumper stickers, and why that car is a white honda civic. it’s not that appearances dont matter to me, in fact they matter enough that i’ve sort of gone out of my way to not have any. i also have no tattoos or piercings, and i dont wear a watch or any kind of jewlery. i found one pair of shoes i really like 10 years ago and have been rebuying them ever since. the only things i always have on me besides my wallet are headphones and a benchmade.

    i’ve been thinking a lot lately about buying some nicer clothes, but i wouldn’t know where to begin – anything outside my norm is going to feel odd, like, almost dishonest in some way. i don’t know. probably i’ll forget about it and just rewatch Buffy.

    /nerd

    1. >i’ve been thinking a lot lately about buying some nicer clothes, but i wouldn’t know where to begin

      See my other comment. I will add that you should go to the San Francisco Nordstrom’s (I found the one in San Mateo substandard in terms of personal service–I am assuming you are in the Bay Area) and let one of the salesmen do the shopping/thinking for you. It is pretty stress free, much faster than shopping for yourself, and you will be thinking, “If this guy can help me look 10% as good as he does, then this will be worth it.” And he will.

      I also found haircuts annoying until I started going to the lady down the street who cuts hair in her kitchen. Now it is more like hanging out with a friend/acquaintance for an hour. Again, personal service/connection makes a difference in how annoying things are.

      1. im in san jose, so that’s doable, though im thinking i’ll probably want to bring my buddies girlfriend with me for a second opinion.

    2. “i have long hair – you guessed it – because i find hair cuts annoying”

      It’s a little ironic, because as a woman, I have shorter hair because I find long hair so annoying. It’s hot, heavy, and needs more time to wash and dry, plus miscellaneous fiddling if you’re the kind that cares for styling, and gets in my face/mouth when it’s windy. A haircut every one or two months beats the everyday maintenance for me.

      1. It’s hot, heavy, and needs more time to wash and dry, plus miscellaneous fiddling if you’re the kind that cares for styling, and gets in my face/mouth when it’s windy

        Ah, these things presume engagement in a number of annoying activities; washing, styling and going outdoors. Long hair simply fits better into the ‘hanging out in Daleran, waiting for the queue’ lifestyle.

        I’m a long-hair IT guy too. Wore it shaved for a while, and it is easier (and I can cut it myself), but looks better long. Medium would probably be ok too, but it takes just as much work as long plus you have to keep getting it cut.

  23. This isn’t that hard. Unlike many problems, throwing money at this one does actually work (and the amount of money is not much compared to the things geeks typically spend money on).

    Just go to Nordstroms and tell the salesperson what you need, in this case to dress like an adult going to work, that you need easy to care for items/fabrics, and what your budget is. They will set you up with a few pairs of pants, shirts, a pair of shoes, and a sport jacket or two.

    If you want to go slightly lower budget, go to Macy’s but you won’t get quite the same personal shopping service/advice.

  24. when I worked in the Valley the HR dept @ the company that bought our startup stated I couldn’t hire sound-designers who were tattoo’d or pierced since it was not in keeping with their khaki Dockers and pastel Polo shirt costume

  25. I’m with those saying that dressing nicely is a good thing, and that it *doesn’t have to be uncomfortable*, or even all that expensive.

    Dressing nicely doesn’t mean going to the most expensive store at the mall and buying expensive stuff.

    You just have to be aware of what looks good on you (not necessarily an easy thing to figure out, I admit, but chances are at the least it’s not geeky t-shirts or cheap dress clothes from Sears). You have to be a little picky with the clothes you buy. You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing this, but you can’t treat buying clothes like going to the grocery store and picking up all the same things you get every week.

    Also, dressing nicely doesn’t just mean suits. You can wear almost anything and look nice if you know what you’re doing and buy clothes that fit.

    A great site for practical advice for looking good is http://putthison.com/. I don’t necessarily agree with everything on there, but it’s a good place to start to understand the basics of looking good.

    Regarding this particular new line of clothes, I agree with those who are skeptical. This stuff is made somewhere in Asia and has a huge markup. I think $50-75 would be a better price point for the shirts, and would be more attractive to geeks. Geeks in Silicon Valley may make a lot of money, but I suspect are more likely to be careful with their spending (on everything besides gadgets and electronics, of course). Maybe $150-200 for the sport coats. And I do like the idea of the $800 jacket – waterproof and so on – but again, that’s way too expensive.

    I had bespoke shirts made (to my exact measurements) in Thailand for $20, for example. Also a suit for $150. They look very similar to the quality of stuff for sale here.

    And honestly, is this really approachable by style newbies? With french cuffs?

    To their credit, the small selection means one could buy everything they have and not worry about thinking if it looks good or not. They’re not offering things that take a sense of style to wear properly.

    1. “I have to lose the liberty to dress outside of an engineer uniform during my off time too?”

      I guess I can’t address this point since from what I’m reading, your workplace has a very specific dress code beyond a simple “business casual.” At my workplace, it’s mostly an atmosphere — people can easily project individualism with their clothes, and nobody really looks the same. At least to me — maybe every woman or man who doesn’t have tattoos or green hair looks the same to you.

      As for the rest of your comment, please note I was referring to “professionalism”, which is more about conduct, and not necessarily skills specific to a trade or job. I mean, *obviously* the cut of your pants isn’t going to tell me anything about your technical abilities as an engineer.

      And no, I’m not saying that anyone who doesn’t adhere to a dress code is necessarily belligerent or a terrible person.

      But as I was pointing out, it can speak to how you read a workplace, its implicit codes, and whether you think it’s important enough to tell everyone off by not attempting the dress standard.

      You think it’s shallow and pointless to wear not-jeans/whatever to work — good for you. But holding back what’s a highly subjective and personal opinion is the point — that’s what being in a workplace is about. My point was that there are more skills to being an employee and a co-worker than just your job description.

      Don’t get me wrong — thoughtful employees are incredibly valuable. I doubt you’d be doing a bad thing if you raised a point about comfort for technicians or morale or petitioned for more casual days. Would be nice and may work out for everyone.

      But if you can’t be bothered to actually change your workplace or start a ripple in your industry, unless wearing a particular set of clothes over ANOTHER particular set of clothes — which is really what this boils down to — is a significant detriment to how you perform your job, you, as a professional, do it, because you signed onto a job with particular expectations. That’s what professionalism is.

      “The only thing it takes to stuff yourself into a generic engineer uniform is a pulse.”

      I don’t disagree that people who wear khakis and a tucked-in shirt probably have a pulse, but not everyone who has a pulse apparently can do it. And there are even engineers (or at least tech-oriented) people who want to dress more formally/professionally yet can’t grasp what that might entail! (As this post said in the first place.) Clearly, technical skill and dress sense are *different kinds* of abilities.

      1. don’t disagree that people who wear khakis and a tucked-in shirt probably have a pulse, but not everyone who has a pulse apparently can do it. And there are even engineers (or at least tech-oriented) people who want to dress more formally/professionally yet can’t grasp what that might entail! (As this post said in the first place.) Clearly, technical skill and dress sense are *different kinds* of abilities.

        Animal skinning and technical skills are also *different kinds* of abilities. Like “dress sense”, animal skinning is a worthless judge of the ability to do your job. None the less, I would learn to go skin animals if I thought it was going stand in the way of a promotion. It would still be dumb and a horrible way to determine who gets a promotion.

        My point was that there are more skills to being an employee and a co-worker than just your job description.

        True. Dressing pretty isn’t one of them unless you are customer facing or a model. Interpersonal skills, ability to work in a team, ability to lead, and ability to communicate are all extremely important skills. They all also have zero correlation and certainly absolutely no causation associated with what you call “dress sense”. In fact, I would argue that there is a probably a weak inverse correlation between “dress sense” and interpersonal skills. Without exception, every single overbearing stupid gorilla of a manager I have ever head to deal with had excellent “dress sense”, while intelligent team oriented people I have had the pleasure to work with had a diverse range of dress.

        If when trying to determine the worth of those important non-technical skills that your employees have you at any time must resort to judging their “dress sense”, you fail as a manager and clearly need to spend more time observing your employees.

        “Dress sense” is a completely worthless proxy for determining inter personal skills and is certainly beyond worthless for determining technical ability. You might as well judge your employees based upon the fire lighting skills or their interior design abilities.

        Don’t get me wrong. I dress as expected and then some, but I would also take up taxidermy if there was an unspoken rule that all managers are good at squirrel stuffing.

        As I said, one of the nice things about interviewing in Silicon Valley was that no one appeared to give two shits about “dress sense”, yet some how these people managed to remain professional and run successful companies.

  26. They say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have… but for some reason my space ranger costume never went down well at the office.

  27. And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky. And they all look just the same.

    No thanks! I’d rather wear my black jeans with the frayed crotch hole thank you very much :-) SF Bay – stay casual!!

  28. I wish someone would start using inexpensive materials to make nice looking clothes that don’t break the bank.

    I’m tired of wearing Aeropostale polos to work, but that’s what I can afford.

  29. All I know is that I like the idea of jacket cuff buttons that actually function. And that makes these jackets appealing to me.

  30. Fashion targeted to people who simultaneously want to waste money and send the great and enlightened Silicon Valley culture backwards? No thanks. I’d appreciate if I didn’t have to read these advertisements on BoingBoing.

  31. I am in a hard science and I tend to have “no tie” days when doing lab work and “tie days” when I am in meetings or presentations. Since the people I am meeting with or presenting to are usually in ties as well, that’s not an issue.

    But this line looks to me like an attempt at adult garanimals for people who would like to dress differently but are uncomfortable making those choices. Jackets in only four sizes? Are there only four sizes of men? How can you have working button holes put in before you know how long my arm is? (Not every person in the nine-size range lumped into “medium” will have identical arms.) An inexpensive jacket that fits is much better than an expensive one that looks like I borrowed it.

    One reason so many men aren’t comfortable in a suit is that their suit doesn’t fit and they wear it so rarely they don’t think tailoring is a justified expense. None of your daily clothing should be uncomfortable, period. And a suit that fits well and that doesn’t constrict or look like a tent will soon be forgotten like a t-shirt and jeans.

    I think someone would be much better off shopping a little smarter and getting a less expensive jacket in real wool either from a thrift shop, ebay, or a good sale at Brooks Brothers and spending an extra $20 on tailoring so it looks and FEELS right. When you feel better you’ll look comfortable and confident because you won’t be fidgeting.

    1. what about us chicks in the tech industry?

      As long as the shirt is low-cut it won’t matter what else you wear.

  32. Where does mindless, wasteful, expensive, arbitrary conformity fall on the Happy Mutant scale? It’s near the top, right?

  33. I’m in tech but don’t see customers. I wish company just supply polo’s , zip fleece , and other comfortable wear for workers.

    benefits…
    – kinda like star trek
    – see fellow workers with similar gear with company logo
    – group cohesion
    – don’t have to think about what to wear
    – don’t have to think about what others are wearing (e.g. what’s up w/ slacks and sneakers? if so , why not cargo shorts with long socks and leather loafers)

    P.S. Surprised only one person commented on the hairy hand coming out of the sleeve. ewww…

  34. Am I the only one who is questioning whether this is an ad or not?

    I’ve learned a lot more boingish geek chic stuff from the comments here than from the post.

  35. My dad was a beta-generation geek boy who worked in Aerospace. Short-sleeves pocket front shirts and slacks were the norm (with the occasional jeans and long-hair hippy or leisure suit worked in). Team members were required to meet with top military brass and ties were required. Period. Mind you- this was for designing the Apollo space crafts- dad and his buddies WERE the top brains, but they still needed to wear a tie.
    None of them owned a “real” tie, but one of the guys had gotten a joke tie shaped like a fish for Xmas, so they all got together and decided that it would be THE OFFICE TIE.
    They kept the tie on a hook next to the door, and anytime the Brass came to call, the team member going to the meeting would nip in, grab the tie and go. The Generals, like Queen Victoria, Were Not Amused. However, they hadn’t said WHAT KIND of tie the engineers had to wear, and needed the brains, so they grimly ignored it as best they could.

    That said- such clients are more definite in their sartorial demands these days, and my partner has to dress for success in meetings. And I’d LOVE to see him in this stuff for after-hours events too (rowr!).

  36. I can’t understand this post. It’s basically an ad for 4 men’s sport jackets and 6 dress shirts. And they’re boring. Sorry. No style upgrade here.

    A photo-spread of the new Paul Smith store* in SF would have been a much better post. But I guess Paul Smith isn’t married to the guy who started Reddit. (*Wearing their new elephant shirt would elevate you to stylemaster in your office.)

    Oh, and men with real style aren’t afraid to wear color…clearly lacking here in this tiny “collection”.

  37. A shirt for more than $50? Then it needs to be custom-tailored, not a standardized size off the rack (especially if you’re not a standardized size – I’m tall and fat, and having a standard-height extra-fat shirt doesn’t do the same thing.) Suit designers who assume that if you’re over a size 40 you want to look like a gangster? Shoot them with that tommy-gun they imagine you’re toting.

    I wore suit jackets a lot when I worked in San Francisco, because it’s bloody cold and rainy there, and fashions designed for unheated buildings in London a century ago are just about right.
    On the other hand, as an engineer going along with sales people, if the customer wore suits, I’d dress up, and if they dressed like engineers, I’d dress like an engineer, and you can ditch a jacket really easily if it’s inappropriate. And if the sales guy’s concerned about whether your tie’s straight, and you walk in and hug the customer’s engineering VP who you worked with at a previous gig and start talking with her about details he doesn’t understand but it sounds like you’re agreeing with each other, and he leaves the meeting with a $10m deal signed, he’ll gradually start to get that engineering customers aren’t banks.

  38. Like the guys need more sources of businesswear. The niche looks pretty well covered from here.

    How about some practical professional clothing for women? Professional women, who need to carry gadgets and tech, not just look pretty. Women who don’t want to wear leg-destroying high heels. You know, slacks designed to hang right with things in the pockets, like the guys get. There are a few dress shirts tailored to fit curves, but they’re not easy to find.

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