Niniane’s recent blog post about how female engineers should dress took me back to my early days in Silicon Valley when I worried about that stuff. Eventually I concluded that not only do I look terrible in logowear and jeans, but SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE. Yes you, Fatty McGeekerson… your man-boobs and beer gut would look much better in something less… clingy. And I’m talking to you too, Skinny O’Geeky! Get your narrow ass out of those black jeans and into some slacks right now. And don’t hem them too short either.
It makes me laugh to see that moronic blog commenters still think that giveaway T-shirts with jeans are “the traditional dress of my people”. Uh… silk hanboks with stiff petticoats and pointy-toed shoes are the traditional dress of my other people. But you don’t see me wearing them to the office either — cause I choose not to look like a freak. Generally I try to wear something relatively flattering, which because I’m so short and so bad at matching colors usually means a dress. And I always carry a big-ass purse, just because it’s the one area of women’s dress that seems sensible at all.
My bigger problem these days is not fitting into the engineering pit — it’s more figuring out what to wear when meeting outsiders, like customers or funders. You want to look like you’re making an effort, but it’s imperative not to look like a lame version of the other guy. I think Silicon Valley people pitching New York types almost always default to khakis and buttondown (the Bill Gates) or dark pants, dark sweater, and slightly subversive shoes (the Steve Jobs). Neither of those is really much of an option for me, although if push came to shove I’d don the turtleneck and sandals.