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The Style of Power


In the wake of a raft of pieces praising all the hoodie style on display in The Social Network, there’s a surprising confusion in the air about whether or not it’s actually a good idea to wear hoodies in a business context. Just to clarify, it’s not.

The argument goes something like this: Wearing pajamas to a board meeting means you don’t care, and only genuinely powerful people can afford not to care, so wearing clothes that say Gap on them should be more of a power move than all the silk ties on Madison Avenue. Needless to say, there are a few problems…

To clear the air a bit, we’d recall this old gem: style fills the gap between the way the world sees you and the way you see yourself. You’re wearing that suit because you want to make sure everyone else sees you as a competent, powerful person—the way you see yourself.

The catch is that if you’re talented enough or rich enough, that gap can be filled by brute force. It’s fine to show up to a board room looking like a schlub if you’re calling the shots; they’ll be seeing things your way soon enough, without any help from your outfit. But that’s not style. It’s the opposite of style.

To put it another way, if a movie’s sitting on a mountain of well-earned “film of the year” buzz, someone's bound to write a piece about how stylish it is. Just don’t get confused about why.