Is Silicon Valley The Most Fashionable Place For Women To Work Now?

According to The New York Times, Silicon Valley may be one of the most fashionable places to work. Thanks to chic geeks like Marissa Mayer and Alison Pincus, Silicon Valley is no longer a drab place of suits and hoodies (well, except for Mark Zuckerberg.) Notable designers are actually coveting women in tech and catering to them. Silicon Valley has been injected with color and couture, mainly due to the fact that more women are working in tech and in more prominent positions and feel that they can finally dress the way they want.

According to The Times, stores such as Alice & Olivia and Bottega Veneta are opening branches near Silicon Valley and specifically designing clothing for ‘tech girls.’ “Women in the tech world aren’t confined to wearing a standard black suit, so they can have more fun with their day clothes. They also want an element of sophistication to their clothes because they want to be taken seriously. Hollywood women are more focused on sex appeal,” said Stacey Bendet Eisner, the designer for Alice & Olivia.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, 42, a former Google executive who now runs a video shopping site called Joyus, said she used to choose between wearing what she wanted and being taken seriously and being taken seriously also won out. But now she feels more secure in her career and doesn’t leave the house without 4-inch stilettos. “The perception in Silicon Valley is that if you dress well, you couldn’t possibly be smart, or you’re in P.R. but couldn’t possibly run a company,” said Leila Janah, 29, a tech entrepreneur who worked in New York before moving to the Bay Area. “I remember briefly attempting the Adidas and jeans and sweatshirt over T-shirt look, but I realized I was trying to dress like a young tech geek, and that just wasn’t me. Fashion is expressing my aesthetic sense just as much as our Web site is.”

Plus, fashion in Silicon Valley can also be strategic. Women only make up 5% of the founders and chief executives of tech start-ups, a quarter of computing professionals and 11% of tech investors, so it is easy to stand out amongst the sweatshirts and cargo shorts and that isn’t a bad thing. “Silicon Valley is definitely a place of meritocracy, but if on top of it, if you don’t happen to look like the 10 other people in the room, that’s not always bad,” said Theresia Gouw Ranzetta, an investor at Accel Partners, a venture capital firm.

And unlike Wall Street or in a law office, women in Silicon Valley have a lot more freedom when it comes to their attire. Plus, to have a woman like Marissa Mayer taking over at Yahoo and also being a devoted fashionista sets a great tone. “You can be good at technology and love fashion and art. You can be good at technology and be sporty. You can be good at technology and being a mom,” Mayer said once. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mayer once paid $60,000 at a charity auction to have lunch with fashion designer Oscar de la Renta (he said she is one of his best customers.)Vogue listed her Oscar de la Renta cashmere cardigan with three-quarter sleeves and pointelle detailing and enamel buttons as among her favorite items. She owns four—off-white, oatmeal, navy, black—and bought 20 more as Christmas gifts for her girlfriends.

Like everything Marissa does, she pursues shopping with the utmost precision. According to Vogue, “twice a year at Bergdorf Goodman with a personal shopper, having trawled (one of her nine most-viewed Web pages) for her favorite labels: Oscar, Carolina, Etro (“I can take their stuff, ball it in a suitcase, and it comes out fine”), Tuleh, Angel Sanchez, and Armani “pants and suits” (for testifying before Congress). She tracks department-store sales online, receives a daily mailing from Gilt Groupe, and “uses Google product search for something really specific, such as a specific pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes.” With the exception of her black Chanel bag, she is drawn to vibrancy and whimsy.

Photo: Denis Kichatof/
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