Style Guide for Startup Guys (Part 1): The Hoodie is Dead

This is part 1 of a 4-part series, Style Guide for Startup Guys, an overview on style tips for all the guys in the startup world. 

Did you happen to come across TechCocktail’s “41 Startup Guys Show Us What They Actually Wear to Work” post from a few weeks back? Yeesh. While a solid portion of the gents featured seemed to have a good grasp on “dressing for success”, there were far too many graphic tees and faded jeans on display.

You’re not Zuck. This isn’t 2004. If you intend on pitching Andreesen-Horowitz to contribute to your seed round, you’re going to need to lose the flip-flops and American Apparel v-necks and start considering what message your personal style is sending.

Of course, there were certainly several opportunities for cheers within the group (Obi Onyejekwe and Scott Young– I’m looking at you), but it’s obvious that a solid portion of our nation’s young entrepreneurs need a little assistance in overhauling their look. Hence, I’ve put together this guide to help you guys get it together.

First things first: the hoodie is dead.



College is over. Start dressing like it.

Yes, to the dismay of many of Silicon Valley’s aspiring execs, you can’t get away with wearing these at your co-working space’s next cocktail event– even if it’s sporting the logo of your Ivy League alma matter. Save it for the gym, or at least invest in one of the more refined options companies like Betabrand have recently been producing.


A more stylish alternative to your standard hoodie. (Betabrand Gray Academic Hoodie via Betabrand)

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: cardigans.


Wear it to parties. Call it your “partigan”. (Shiply & Halmos Striped Cotton Cardigan via Gilt)

Think of the cardigan as the hoodie’s classed-up cousin. It’s the Rye Old-Fashioned to the hoodie’s Early Times and Coke. You’ll find great (and affordable) examples available at most major retailers, from H&M and Uniqlo, to discounted designer pieces over at Nordstrom Rack. What’s even better is that all three retailers now allow you to order online.


You can go for fine-knit cardigan from H&M for $35, or a Loft 604 cardigan from Nordstrom Rack for $79. (via H&M and Nordstrom Rack)

If you’re searching for something smart to wear during the workweek, try pairing a cardigan with a simple Oxford collar button down – known in menswear as an “OCBD” – in a safe color, like light blue, pink, or white. My advice for beginners, generally, is to avoid going bold initially, and then gradually branch out into more unique patterns and color combinations.


The non-iron Supima Oxford button-downs from Brooks Brothers are perfect for those living a low-maintenance life while still looking good. (via Brooks Brothers)

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Style Guide for Startup Guys, where we go over neckwear. In the meantime, if you’re looking for additional inspiration or help, check out Sartorial Developer, a blog by someone in IT who doesn’t dress like the typical developer.



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Written by:
Jake Kuczeruk is the Co-Founder and CMO of Tie Society. Raised in Michigan, Indiana University graduate, and citizen of San Francisco- where he resides with his girlfriend and two cats.
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