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Top Fashion Mistakes Tech Entrepreneurs Make — Hint: No Hoodies Allowed

Top Fashion Mistakes Tech Entrepreneurs Make Hint_ No Hoodies Allowed

Sim Gulati, admittedly, has a vested interest in having men dress nicely.

He’s in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for his clothing startup, Barley & Britches, which aims to disrupt the men’s fashion industry by cutting out retailers and wholesalers and delivering clothes direct from the manufacturer.

Gulati says the idea came to him when he was in the market for a new pair of Chino’s. He thought the $80 to $125 for pants at stores from the Banana Republic to Barney’s in New York was too high. Barley & Britches’ first offering: Chinos that will sell for $38.

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As he was talking to incubators and investors about his idea, Gulati, whose career started in manufacturing, said he crossed paths for the first time with tech entrepreneurs. And what he noticed is how badly many of the men dressed.

“Here are these really bright entrepreneurs and what they’re wearing sells them short,” Gulati said. “A lot of times entrepreneurs can be too casual. But being anxious, they can overdress as well. I think there are common mistakes people are making and there are ways to dress well and keep your independent style.”

The bottom line, he says: “Your appearance shouldn’t distract. You should be the center of attention, not your clothes.”

It’s not exactly a new idea. Fashion designer and style maven Coco Chanel famously said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”

Gulati said he’s directing his do’s and dont’s to male entrepreneurs — not because there aren’t any women leading tech startups, but because, he says, most women already understand that how they look is important and so generally dress well.

So if you’re a guy running a tech startup or thinking of launching one, here are a few things Gulati says you should avoid:

Skip the flip flops and sandals.

“This seems like an obvious one but I’ve seen it far too often to let is slide. Your college years are long gone — and those sandals belong on the beach and not in the boardroom. Same goes for Crocs — you are not [noted chef] Mario Batali. Instead, opt for a clean yet colorful pair of Converse all-stars or an awesome pair of vintage Adidas ’ sneakers and if you’re feeling a bit more formal you can slip into a nice pair of loafers.”

The hoodie is not a wardrobe option — unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook’s CEO, who helped popularized the hoodie in tech circles, can still get away with wearing one. But he’s the only one, says Gulati, unless you’re trying to say ‘I’m a desperate wannabe.’ “When you’re starting off, it might be okay to dress very casually like you did as a student. But as your company gets bigger and you get older, you should dress more sensibly. Again, it’s about wearing clothes that put you in the best light — and that are not distracting.”

No sleepwear at the office.

“If you’re wearing to work what you sleep in – it’s gotta go. It doesn’t matter if Zuckerberg did it. Showing up in sweat pants or a sweatshirt to your VC’s office – or even to your own office — is a major faux paus.” Why? Gulati says it shows you couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to pull yourself together for the day. And while entrepreneurs may claim they are too busy to worry about such things, every day is not a fire drill.

Avoid statement T-shirts.

Company T-shirts are okay — as long as they’re clean and in good shape (that is, not ripped, stained or shredded.) But statement T-shirts may suggest fraternity house rather than innovative tech business. “And you don’t want to declare a statement to your staff and colleagues on a tshirt. Leaders lead by actions and leave the jokes off of clothing,” he says.

Just say no to wrinkled slacks paired

Just say no to wrinkled slacks paired with hiking boots — especially if the boots still have dirt clinging to them. “If you’re going to wear slacks, they must be presentable — they should be ironed and pressed. Leave the hiking boots for those weekend mountain trips.”

Spend wisely on comfortable clothing.

Dressing well doesn’t necessarily mean buying pricey clothing or items that make you squirm. “There’s nothing worse then wearing clothing that you’re not comfortable in. Whatever you’re going to wear, casual or formal, make sure you’re comfortable and that it fits well.”

So what should you wear? If you’re a suit guy, wear a suit. If you’re looking for something more casual, Gulati recommends a classic pair of Levi jeans with a polo, sport shirt or button-down. He also says he’s not opposed to uniforms — that is, adopting a signature look that you can make your own as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs did with his black mock turtleneck, Levi’s and New Balance sneakers.

Source: Connie Guglielmo-

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