Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and Fashion Icon

January 27, 2011 in Fashion, Fashion Anthropology, Personalities, Style by alliemcc

Your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, it is Thursday, and this is not a Girl Crush post. No, as far as I know, Mark Zuckerberg is not a girl. I think the Girl Crush series will be a bi-weekly series. It takes a lot of research time, and I am in fact trying to run an actual business (see here and here). I hope you will forgive me. And buy my shit.

I remember when Facebook first came out. I was in my final 2 years of college. At the time, I couldn't really grasp the appeal of sending instant updates about my every thought, plan, move, meal, etc. to my friends and classmates, and I didn't even get an account until a couple of years ago, after it had moved out of its frat-boy-school-spirit phase into the mainstream.

That said, Facebook is a defining artifact of this particular moment in US culture, so its not really surprising that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO, was Time magazine's Person of 2010. Revenge of the nerds, and all that.

Photo: Francois Durand, Getty Images. via Esquire.

My husband just notified me that Zuckerberg was also named to Esquire magazine's Celebrity Hall of Shame for what they deemed his inappropriate attire at a black tie event (their copy doesn't give me a clue to the specific event). When Hubby sent me the link, we proceeded to debate for at least 30 minutes on fashion, sociology, and anthropology vis a vis Mark Zuckerberg's t-shirt and jeans.

And that is why I married my husband.

My point was, I agree with Esquire that a t-shirt and jeans is an inappropriate outfit choice for that type of social situation at this moment in time in this culture. Yes, I am old-school on some sartorial things, and menswear is a big one.

His point was that appropriate dress is a culturally specific set of rules that are set by the wealthy and powerful. He argued that very rich people have always been able to dress however they want (witness the slews of wealthy eccentrics throughout history: Wilde, Bernhardt, Schiaparelli).  At the same time, there have been very strict standards of dress etiquette, and people from lower classes have always emulated those standard uniforms as a tool for upward mobility and social acceptance. 

And now that there are more and more very young business leaders with lots and lots of money, those standards may be being redefined.

The Daily Beast is on Team Zuck:

Utter disregard for personal style is the new ultimate status symbol. Zuckerberg is a new fashion icon. Are you smart and ambitious enough that you can waltz into a meeting with a top venture capital firm in your pajamas and still come away with a fat check?

I eventually agreed with Hubby that if there is indeed momentum behind this shift in what is appropriate business attire, as an anthropology amateur, I am interested in witnessing it. It would be the first major change in menswear in approximately 300 years, by my estimates.

via CafePress

It almost seems that Zuckerberg's choice of fashion is an overgrown act of adolescent angst and college student laziness– in a word, immature.  His parents are a psychiatrist and a dentist; he went to public school before transferring to Philips Exeter Academy, and then attended Harvard. I imagine he was surrounded by rules and social codes growing up, and is still young enough and nerdy enough to stick to tees and jeans or worse, just to be contrary.

But I am wondering if Zuckerberg's standards won't change as he gets older. 26 is very young indeed, and he is getting more and more involved in the worlds of wealth and business (philanthropy, events, etc.).  Even the chief American computer nerds, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, wear at least a modified business uniform (Jobs: black turtlenecks, Gates: polos or sports jackets). Hell, my husband, one of the biggest nerds I know, has a pretty snazzy wardrobe. Just sayin'.

Mark, when you're ready for a style assist, give me a call.