Silicon Valley’s Rebel Menswear Aficionados

As mentioned in the San Francisco prep story recently posted, I’ve been writing for the SF society mag The Nob Hill Gazette, which I did some pieces for many years ago when I lived in the city. My latest is on a few proud peacocks in the Bay Area’s tech industry who defy the unofficial uniform of puerile casualness. You menswear omnivores out there might enjoy the piece.


Symbols of hierarchy are a coded language some men obsess over (the book and film American Psychoprovides delightful black comedy on the subject), and yet one of the most astute analysts of sartorial semiotics was an Englishwoman named Pearl Binder, author of the 1958 tome The Peacock’s Tail: An Examination of the Purpose and Meaning of Male Dress, an erudite exegesis on the history of masculine panache.

Writing during the postwar years of gray-suited company men, Binder noted that male attire had become drab and dreary, which tells you, she argued, precisely how modern men feel about themselves. Men feel emasculated and demoralized for having, among other things, created machines to do their work for them. This was the era when the IBM corporation became a symbol of bland conformity, a punchline for beatniks and comedians. But the company’s strict dress code of gray suits and white shirts (never blue) is positively flamboyant compared to the puerile garb of today tech titans, whose sneakers and sweatshirts mark them not as Promethean gods and more like children playing with fireworks, blissfully ignorant of the consequences.

Yet amid the tech industry’s new hoodie-clad sartorial punchline (and paunchline) are a few rebel souls challenging the status quo by actually dressing like the affluent adult males they are, with respect for standards of personal attire above the lowest common denominator, and running the gamut from subdued to proud assertions of personal elan.

Casual attire may seem limiting to the novice who cannot envision anything beyond khakis and golf shirts, but it is in limitation, as Goethe observed, that the master reveals himself. Ian Anderson, who boasts a master’s from Stanford and has worked for several e-commerce startups, has a casual wardrobe with impressive variety. “I usually wear chinos and jeans with a casual shirt of oxford, chambray or flannel, with a smart piece of knitwear or a sportcoat,” he says.

Check out the whole piece here.

Coming soon: more RL mannequins for your inspiration/defenestration, some home decor ideas in time for the holidays, and a long-gestating Q&A with a singular trad legend. — CC

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6 Comments on "Silicon Valley’s Rebel Menswear Aficionados"

  1. This 1995 NY Times article on IBMs transition to “business casual is a classic:

    The first paragraph is especially funny – Gucci loafers (presumably the vile horsebit variety) were not acceptable. IBMers were referred to as “wingtip warriors”. The uniform was dark suits, but not necessarily gray. Salesmen in particular favored navy suits (pinstripes optional) – which reinforced the “Big Blue” nickname. But yes, white shirts . . .

  2. I know Andy who is featured in your article.
    He frequently posts on Style Forum and regulary attended
    SF Meet-Ups when they were occurring. I would add to
    your examples Vint Cerf, internet pioneer, now with Google.

  3. CC, your writing keeps getting better and better, keep up the good work.

    Andy Poupart is such a sharp dresser! He really embodies the old Apple slogan, “Think different,” a variant of IBM’s slogan “Think.”

    I hope that once I reach age 50 I have the skill (and income) to wear custom suits, Budd shirts, and Edward Green shoes.

    Kudos to Mr. Poupart for having the chutzpah for skipping the iWatch and dressing (way) better than the current CEO of Apple.

  4. In our otherwise vile world, this snippet does my heart good on a blustery, cold November Friday. What wonderfully stylish young man.

    Best Regards,

  5. Charlottesville | November 10, 2018 at 12:50 pm |

    Bravo, Christian. “[T]he puerile garb of today tech titans, whose sneakers and sweatshirts mark them not as Promethean gods and more like children playing with fireworks, blissfully ignorant of the consequences,” is perhaps the single best line I have ever read on the topic of menswear in this present evil age. And Mr. Poupart looks great. While I’m an Ivy/Trad dresser for the most part, I very much enjoy seeing someone dress well. The occasional DB has even found its way into my closet, hiding among the tweed and pinstriped sacks.

  6. NaturalShoulder | November 10, 2018 at 2:43 pm |

    I am familiar with Mr. Poupart and have enjoyed his postings on Instagram. Glad to read that there are other like minded gents in Silicon Valley. As an attorney, dressing in a suit or coat and tie does not stick out as much as doing so in the tech world but it is increasingly becoming so. As I get older, I have taken more of Mr.Poupart’s attitude toward dressing and do it for myself and not caring what others think.

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