It’s always dangerous when you start taking style cues from Silicon Valley, but we never guessed it would get this bad. Friday’s New York Times contained an improbably timed ode to what they’re claiming is the new talisman of business success: the happy sock.

Never mind that the CEOs they’re trotting out are at least three years behind the curve here, or that the piece is drenched in PR-ready lingo, calling colorful socks “like a secret handshake for those who have arrived, and for those who want to.” (Again, that’s colorful socks they’re describing, not a Mercedes or a Breitling.)

But the real problem is the strange assumption that you’ll be taking style cues from tech CEOs, simply because they’re tech CEOs.

On some level, we get it. The Facebook IPO adds a few more billionaires to the world, and suddenly the MIT crowd looks like a new breed of aristocrat. Everyone’s eager to get a piece of it, so eager that they’re gullible, and then so gullible that boosting their career through their choice of sock seems almost plausible. Anyone who buys that is someone we want in our poker game.

But even if it were true, you shouldn’t be taking your style cues from these guys—least of all because they happen to be sitting on stock options. Dressing like your boss is an Eisenhower-era conceit, and the loose dress code of the startup scene is a testament to how poorly it’s fared. Copping your boss’s affectations looks more like toadying than ambition. If there were ever a moment for personal style, this is it.

Let’s hope you can come up with something better than a few purple stripes.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom