A few days ago a rather interesting article regarding men’s dress was published on the Economist titled Suitable Disruption. The article discusses a policy that early Facebook and Napster investor Peter Thiel has which is to not invest in anyone who wear a suit to a pitch meeting. The theory is discussed in more detail in his forthcoming book Zero To One. This is not the first time I have heard talk like this. Crazy, right?
Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy wearing suits Mr. Thiel was referring to the tech world. Not the entire world. He notes, “Never invest in a tech CEO that wears a suit.” However, the author of the article goes on to discuss how there is evidence to support the dressing down of investors and professors, it helps them build credibility. Every profession has a uniform, in tech it happens to be a hoodie or other uber casual wear which is a less rigid uniform. When I EMT I have to wear our organizations uniform which has to conform to certain standards and is far more rigid (it is like a police or military uniform). When I used to be an auditor the uniform was a mix of business casual and a suit and tie. Regardless of the profession, looking the part helps people think you are the part. ‘Fake it till you make it’ type of thing I suppose. That said, I can’t really disagree with Mr. Thiel; not to mention the guy has made a few boatloads of money so he’s clearly making a few right decisions. What say all of you?
On a more personal note this article hits close to home. Not only have I been writing a blog on men’s style for the past three years, a good bit of the content of which revolves around tailored wear like suits but I am also starting my own company (launching around October, sign up on the Jay Butler site for updates). I would imagine that at some point I will be meeting with potential investors and what I chose to wear for such meetings will certainly be a conscious decision, not just some accident. Will I wear a suit? The chances are better than 50%. I just feel like a suit is the appropriate thing to wear for such a formal meeting. But fortunately, I am in the men’s style business, and not the tech business. So perhaps what I wear will not be an issue at all.
Regardless of whether or not I agree with everything Mr. Thiel says, I will be buying his book. I guess controversy does breed sales?