When he was 13 years old, John Fairfax ran away from home to live in the jungle, emerging periodically in town to exchange ocelot skins for knives—which he used to skin more ocelots, and so on. After having been dumped by a college girlfriend in Argentina at the age of 20, he attempted suicide—by letting a 400-pound jaguar attack him. A decade later, he drew upon navigational skills picked up as captain of a Panamanian pirate ship, braved numerous typhoons and shark attacks, and crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat stocked only with Spam, oatmeal and brandy. Then, after a brief stint as a mink farmer, he traversed the Pacific Ocean in identical fashion, only this time he brought along a female companion.
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.
The Times’ latest exhausting entry into body-watching has been bouncing in and out of our tipline all weekend. The gist is this: the emaciated look is out, and the gents you see on the runway and in GQ are getting gradually beefier.
It’s the kind of advice that’s really only useful to industry folks, but since the Times Style Section is hardly a trade pub, we’d like to tackle this one head-on. If you were considering applying this wisdom to your own life, now might be a good time to back away from the newspaper.