Geek Fashion Hurts My Senses in Silicon Valley But Women Stand Out & Up


When I first moved to Silicon Valley, I found myself overdressed most of the time, and my New England meets Europe and New York style of dressing just didn’t float well with the very youthful techies who showed up to parties in torn jeans, t-shirts and sneakers.

While I fought it at first, I have always taken a ‘become your target audience’ approach to marketing and PR and since that’s my biz, I turned geek for awhile. After a year or so, I found myself dressing down nearly all the time, even at industry events. I’d wear sleeveless shirts, jeans and sweater wraps which was probably a tad too young for me but then again I was surrounded by engineers who were barely out of puberty. It was about as ‘down’ as I could dress and still look at myself in the mirror.

Dressing ‘down’ may have made me assimilate a bit better into geek culture, which was a culture I needed to wrap my head around, but it never made me ‘feel good.’ I always felt that ‘dressing down’ was ‘dumbing down’ who I was even though we only have to look at how many of the geek powerhouses dress who are running fat multi-million companies to know that they don’t go hand-in-hand.

That said, dressing ‘up’ makes me feel ‘up’, behave ‘up’ and think ‘up,’ most of the time. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get brilliant ideas at 3 in the morning when I’m at my computer in shorts and a t-shirt, because that happens often. Or in the shower, like it does for most of us, when our brain has a few moments to get away from the always-on overcharged place it has been operating for hours at a time.

Those who are close to me know that the fashion sense or lack thereof in Silicon Valley makes me crazy and is one of the things I hate about living here. I miss the fashion sense and energy of New York and most of Europe. And, even though Boston was far too conservative for my taste, at least women wore dresses, jackets and jewelry that you marveled at from time-to-time or wanted to touch. New England men may not win any top prizes for fashion, but they know how to throw on a well-cut jacket and the right shoes for an occasion when they need to.

Many women are tactile, we love touching and that doesn’t just mean our significant other, it means materials too. The first thing I do when I’m in a shop and see something I like is walk up to it to ‘feel’ the material so I’d know immediately whether I’d ‘feel’ great wearing it. 

I remember being at an opera once with my ex and we were in the second row. He was an opera guru and could never understand why I had to sit so close to the front of the stage. When the lead opera star came out wearing a vibrant eggplant Asian silk dress with a mustard and turquoise sash that was so decadently beautiful I nearly cried, I informed him that I was close enough to nearly feel what it was must have felt like on. You don’t get that from the balcony or even from the 20th row.

When I first started blogging and was part of the early blogging trendsetters, there weren’t many women in the scene, so the fashion culture of those RSS-education days was sadly lacking. In the early BlogHer years, when it was all bloggers and no brands, the style was eclectic and all over the map, but one thing that was consistent was the use of vibrant colors. See my photo blog post from 2005 that showed some of the styles of women bloggers at the time and my 2007 post when Project Runway designer Chloe Dao inspired female bloggers to cut up materials and create their own designer t-shirt in a variety of bright, fun colors.

That ‘offering’ couldn’t have been more enticing for someone like me who craves a whole lotta art, fashion, style, craft and creativity in my life. I don’t get enough of great art, design and fashion in the start-up world although frankly if there were more women founders, then perhaps we’d have more creative ‘offerings’ for the world to play with and the UIs would look like a mixture of Vogue and Apple rather than Evernote and Delicious.

The New York Times just ran a piece entitledTechies Break a Fashion Taboo” and with a title like that, how can you not be drawn in? As they rightfully point out, “Silicon Valley has long been known for semiconductors and social networks, not stilettos and socialites. But in a place where the most highly prized style is to appear to ignore style altogether and the hottest accessory is the newest phone, a growing group of women is bucking convention not only by being women in a male-dominated industry, but also by unabashedly embracing fashion.”

Ahhh, beautiful MUSIC TO MY EARS. I’m thinking, breathing and saying all at the same time: GO GIRLS! How can I help?

I had an idea awhile back about throwing a Geek Fashion Show, a bit in ‘New York runway’ format in someone’s home. The idea is that geeks would be forced into fabulous designer clothes, women would whistle and ooh and ahh, and perhaps a little female attention might turn things around.

Somehow I think that if the woman didn’t have a device dangling from her body he could play with, she may not be that interesting to him. Okay, I’m being harsh here, but as someone who has been in the Bay Area for 7 years now, I feel less feminine in San Francisco and Silicon Valley than I’ve felt anywhere else I’ve lived (and that’s 10 countries and 5 states folks).

This energy comes from increased polarity between sexes (or masculine and feminine energies if the same sex). The stronger the polarity, the stronger the chemistry. Polarity is when a woman assumes her femininity in a relationship and a man assumes his masculinity.  Since I moved west, I feel as if everyone and everything is equal, everyone and everything is a community, everything and everyone are partners and there’s no difference in energy when I’m talking to a man or a woman. There are plenty of people who will disagree with me but I wonder if those who will have ever lived in South America, Italy, the South, Paris or the Caribbean. And god no, I’m not advocating for a return to a 1940s housewife culture, and if you think I am, then you’re missing the point.

Polarity plays into dress and fashion too. What I find attractive in a man (clothing, walk, voice) is not necessarily what three of my closest girlfriends will find attractive, but when we dig into attraction at its deepest level in our conversations, what rises to the surface is that “Je ne sais quoi” that creates that feeling of ‘want and desire’ — a polar opposite reaction if you like, the trigger that makes a woman feel like a woman around him. When that reaction is the strongest, it is when he’s tapped into his (or her) masculine side, whatever that happens to be.

So I guess its no secret by now that I find a man who knows how to dress attractive. And, while I’m heterosexual, I’m drawn to women who know how to dress well too. Sure, dressing well is a matter of personal taste, but regardless of what your taste is, one thing is certain: when a woman dresses well, there’s ‘care and thought’ into matching  clothes, shoes, accessories and colors into a creation of sorts she feels best represents her personality. To me, that’s powerful, confident and sexy. The same applies to men, at least for this East Coast-born chica who has spent many years living in Europe.

This photo from in a post called Geek Fashion Does it Matter reminded me of how I often feel in Silicon Valley.









She writes: “geeks are made up of all kinds, but a frat-looking dude in an Abercrombie or Ed Hardy shirt is going to look more out of place at a con than a chick dressed as Hermoine after she drank the cat Polyjuice Potion.”

Outside of Silicon Valley, it all looks out of place, yet geek ‘fashion’ has hit parts of Europe and just when I was about to guess they were from Silicon Valley, a Dutch, Irish, German or Israeli accent came out of his mouth. Frightening.

Take this photo found on Laughing Squid, where Bill Nye the Science Guy Teaches Chris Hardwick How To Tie a Bowtie. They both look like the whole process is just a tad too painful.










Even if nerdy checked shirts aren’t to your liking, it’s a helluva lot better than this:

















Photo credit: Randy Stewart

The above shot of Ben Huh is more along the lines of the every day fashion I deal with everyday living in Silicon Valley and it hurts. I’ve been so reluctant of saying so this publicly for so many years because of the backlash that I’ve kept my moans to close circles. But for crying out loud, it hurts all of my senses and I can no longer not say so.

Says GQ of the the Ben shot: “we can tell you just rolled out of your 1,000-thread count bed sheets and picked out the nearest T-shirt in or around the laundry basket.”  What’s really sad is that most of these guys are actually proud of a statement like that.

Then there’s this eyesore. An invitation to the White House and this is the best that Faceook’s Mark Zuckerberg can pull together?
















Something tells me this was a PR decision or a defiance “this is who I am so f-you” attitude decision. Above photo taken from Hollywood Reporter in an article entitled Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Named Worst Dressed in Silicon Valley.  Just attend any of the countless events on the geek events list and you’ll definitely find worst nearly any night of the week.

Or dare I suggest crossing the bridge and hanging out in Berkeley for awhile. (Apologies to all of my Berkeley friends who will never speak to me after that comment, but c’mon aready – can’t we just call a spade a spade? Just because you’re not great at fashion, it doesn’t mean you don’t ace a million other things in life).

Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley just made #5th worst dressed men of Silicon Valley by GQ (although he actually lives in New York, but just dresses like he lives on the other coast).


















Photo credit: Getty Images

They’re a little harsh in their write-up especially since I personally adore Dennis, but I have to admit, its incredibly accurate: “Unless Crowley is making a social statement about the threat of student loan debt, it’s time to graduate past the junior section.”

I feel that way about 90% of the men who can’t make an effort to graduate past high school.

Remember the way Bill Gates used to dress? Even if you think this shot looks like he’s graduated to the Connecticut suburbs and the colors so don’t work with his skin tone, you have to admit, he’s at least graduated past high school. Enfin!!


















Photo credit: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

I’m surprised that GQ put Craig Newmark on the list, who I also personally adore. Here’s the thing: Craig makes an effort whether you think its fashion perfect or not. He’s not in a t-shirt he grabbed from his laundry basket, he gets the ‘shoe’ thing (the man is never seen wearing tacky neon sneakers that don’t match anything else), he wears great scarves and the hat just suits him. Of all the men they could have chosen in Silicon Valley, really? I can give you 50 other men who should have made the GQ list. Personally, I think “it” works for him, wrinkled shirt and all. How many men do you know who have wrinkled shirts who aren’t geeks?

















Photo credit: Getty Images.

From a post in, they ask: “Are you a real geek? Are you proud of being a geek? You can be cute (or sexy), yet embrace your geeky style. Geek fashion refers to the embracing of stereotypically unpopular “geek” characteristics such as glasses. They dress almost identical to hipsters but verge more towards being into comic books, pop culture, technology, etc. rather than hipsters who are more into poetry, brooding, and generally being pretentious.

The definition: Well, basically, you take key pieces of a typically geeky wardrobe and wear them with purpose and aplomb, to make a point. Not because you’re clueless and out of the fashion loop, not because you can’t afford Ralph Lauren — because you want to. Think thick black glasses, pinstriped suits with skinny ties, sweater vests, and pocket protectors — a hipster vibe with a nerdy edge.”

This doesn’t mean a TechCrunch t-shirt with jeans and sneakers. They write: “many elements that arguably define “geekiness”, such as varying degrees of social awkwardness, mathematical ability, strong interest in science and/or science fiction and fantasy, and varying degrees of disinterest in one’s personal appearance, remain unfashionable.”

The point? Get creative. Care at least a little. Mix geek with other styles.  For example:









 Photo credit:

Says the NY Times piece, “despite the geek stereotypes of hoodie sweatshirts, flip-flops and thick glasses, it makes perfect sense, these women say, for people interested in technology to be intrigued by fashion. They quote Marissa Mayer pictured above left, who said in February: “Like components of software,” she said, “fashion designers learned how to do this shoulder, put pleats on the skirt that way.” Apparently she once paid $60,000 at an auction for lunch with Oscar de la Renta. I wonder if she’ll use her elevated salary at Yahoo for luxury wanna-haves like this one?

Thinking like ‘software components,’ she asked Naeem Khan to make the dress for her wedding to Zachary Bogue, a financier, in 2009. “She gave the designer a spec (a set of requirements that engineers write for new products) for the gown, including scalloped trim, an A-line skirt and lace, preferably with snowflakes.” Too funny, but if its the way her brain works, it’s the way her brain works.

Compare the above set of four men to the below set of three women. What draws you in more regardless of your sex? Great style is great style is it not?












From left: Theresia Gouw Ranzetta, an investor at Accel Partners in Palo Alto, Calif., Sukhinder Singh Cassidy runs the video shopping site Joyus in San Francisco; Ruzwana Bashir is a founder of Peek, a Web travel start-up in San Francisco.

Well done ladies and don’t ever stop wearing great color and great design regardless of how much push back you get.

Keep the trend going so we can add just a little bit of sex appeal to the Bay Area. Silicon Valley is starving for and in need of a whole lot more sex (appeal :-) and while the geeks may not admit it, if they go there, and get the benefits and rewards that it might bring, they may just never look back.

Photo Credits: above triage photo: Heidi Schumann for NY Times, Marissa Mayer, left, head of Yahoo, with the jewelry designer Monique Pean in 2010): Jemel Countless Getty Images and photo upper right: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times.

  • jenny

    I would like to see some articles written about Timeshare Scams. The craftiness of these scumbags has resulted in a significant and dramatic increase over the last few years, and there are relatively few places to go that offer any type of help, including our own government agencies. I am willing to post my particular circumstance, if it will attract attention and garner the publicity that this serious issue poses. Feel free to publish the following which is a Letter of Complaint that l have been forwarding to authorities.




    BBS Reg. Date: Aug 7, 12

    Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada

    Posts: 1

    Timeshare Scams


    Timeshare Scam artists are getting smarter all the time by re-inventing their sales tactics and aproaches. They are also enlisting 2, 3 and 4th company affiliates who become responsible for executing area’s in your contract so that when you are not recieving the services promised by your initial sales rep, they can pass the grievence along stating that it is not their problem, and that you will need to contact the company yourself to have your dispute settled. Ya right? Suddenly, numbers don’t work and emails are suddenly returned as “undeliverable”. I am posting my situation here in the hopes that others, with simular stories, can share what they did, and the results that they achieved, when trying to cancel/modify their contract. There is strength in unity and it will be up to us to act collectively if we are going to have our Government recognise the impact that Timeshare Scams are haveing not only on the individual, but on Tourism as well.

    Here is my story:

    Letter of Complaint for Timeshare Scam


    I wish to log a formal complaint against the World Residence Club, and The Property Place, for fraud and

    misrepresentation, to the sum of $40, 701.00. In March (Spring Break Mar.9-15, 2012) we were vacationing at

    Vallarta Gardens (see attachment). While there, the resort had contracted the World Residence Club to sell

    timeshares for their resort, Vallarta Gardens. Miguel (Mike) Lopez, Judy Bailey and Candi Ross were the salespeople

    that we were assigned. We informed these salespeople that we already had 2 timeshares and that we didn’t

    need a third. Miguel then offered to purchase our existing timeshares via their affiliate /sister partner The

    Property Place, for the purchase price of $51,840.00usd/$20,404.00usd net and that we would be paid this

    amount within 120 days. Everything seemed in order, and they even put 10% of the purchuse price of our

    timeshares as part of the down payment for the purchase at Vallarta gardens,so we agreed to buy there. About 6

    weeks after we returned back to Canada, Miguel (Mike) Lopez, of the World Residence Club contacted us by phone to

    inform us that we could upgrade our present contract WRCxxxxxxxxx from a 1 bedroom to that of a 2 bedroom

    penthouse, at Vallarta Gardens for just an additional $12,000.00. Since they had seemed to be genuine people

    who were routinely sending us documents via the email, we agreed. We were informed that we needed to wire

    transfer the money, to a bank in Mexico. We did, and they emailed us a 2nd contract WRC xxxxxxxxxx which

    apparently superceeded our first contract. We were also informed by Miguel, that if we didn’t want to use our

    weeks (8 in total), that The Property Place would rent them out for us @ $1800.00 provided that we purchased

    the weeks first. So a 2nd wire transfer was sent to the World Residence Club for $3600.00 (4 weeks @$900.00

    our cost). AWorld residence Club then issued us a confirmation number #xxxxxxxxxxxxx which was emailed

    to The Property Place with a letter giving them (The Property Place) permission to rent these weeks.

    We didn’t start to become suspicious until emails and phone calls suddenly weren’t returned, and the window

    closed for being paid the monies that were due to us from The Property Place. I contacted Vallarta Gardens to

    find out the status of our Timeshare and was shocked to learn that the World Residence Club had had their

    contract with Vallarta Gardens, terminated on April 12, 2012, approx. 6-8 BEFORE they had contacted us for the

    upgrade. When we informed them of our supposed upgrade, but were informed that the new contract with the

    World Residence Club would not be honoured, nor compensated,as they were no longer dealing with the World

    Residence Club, or anyone associated with them. In fact, Vallarta Gardens will be taking legal action against the

    World Residence Club themselves, for fraud and misrepresentation. I have emailed both companies, the World

    residence Club and The Property Place numerous times requesting payment or a full refund but unfortunately

    they have stopped communicating with me altogether.

    I have begun lodging complaints with US, Mexican and Canadian Agencies and Bureau’s, and will continue to do

    so until we have been compensated for this deliberate act of deceit, fraud and total misrepresentation. This is the

    information that l have for these companies:

    Vallarta Gardens Resort and Spa
    Km.1.2de la carreteraa Punta de Mita, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico
    +52 1-866-500-4938
    Contact: Mr. Greg Bloom
    Manager: Juan Becerra
    Sales: Hans Snyman

    World Residence Club (Also see recent new address below)
    Av. Francisco Villa 1505 6
    Residencial Fluvial Vallarta
    Puerto Vallarta. C.P. 48312
    1-866-978-8424 or (fax) 1-800-4509-236 or 1-305-704-2254 (Miguel Luis)
    Sales Reps: Miguel Lopez, Judy Bailey, Candi Ross
    Agents: Eddie Torres, Sarah Lares

    The Property Place
    2250 NW. 114th Ave. Unit 1N.
    Miami, Florida
    PH: 1-305-935-0659, 1-866-978-8514, 1-800-935-0659, 1-305-704-2126 Fax: 1-800-935-0659
    Agents: Sam Aguirre, Sam Lopez, Sam Patches, Eric Delgado

    UPDATE: Upon further research on these 2 scrupulous companies, l came across some additional information, should any of you readers out there be in the same situation as we are with the WORLD RESIDENCE CLUB, VACANCY REWARDS, and THE PROPERTY PLACE:

    World residence Club “NEW” Address
    Av.Francisco Villa 1505-6
    Fraccionamiento Fluvial
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, C.P. 48300
    Owner: Carlos Gadea
    PH: (Mexico ext ??) 322-117-2113

    Please respond if you have any additional information to offer. Thanking you in advance.

  • Jackie Landsberg

    We think that what we are doing at might for fashion-oriented geeks, especially women, fall into the category of geek chic — even it is digital art in the service of greater well-being. Your thoughts greatly appreciated.

    Jackie Landsberg

  • Addison

    Love this article! I love the unfashionable-ness of Silicon Valley… it’s a style of it’s own.

  • ShellTay

    I love this article. Everyone who knows me knows my pet peeve of this area is fashion. I am a native too! I lived in LA for 4 years…fashion Camelot to me. But, I love fashion and dressing well. And, if you think it is bad now? Imagine 15 years ago….