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Mandatory dress code in Internations SF? Weird! (San Francisco)

I’m surprised to see this note in the description of the next Internations event in San Francisco:

*Casual elegant/nice
*Feel free to wear festive colors - red, pink, purple
*NO Athletic wear or hats
*MEN: NO shorts or open toed shoes, and collared shirts are required

I had to read it twice: “collared shirts are REQUIRED”.

A mandatory dress code is a new thing at Internations SF, where the rule until now was to occasionally SUGGEST funny or thematic ways to come to the events (in disguise, in a particular color, etc).

Many events have been organized previously in the same place. I never saw that requirement before, so I guess it comes from our truly remarkable team of Ambassadors. But why?

According to the Internations website “the InterNations Ambassadors act as a host, creating a WELCOMING and INCLUSIVE community so that all members have a great experience” (see link at the end).

We live in San Francisco, the city famous for its diversity and tolerance, and many Internations members work in Silicon Valley companies. We are lucky to live here: there are many places in the world where strict rules impose a particular way of dressing, politics or religion.

A while ago, The Economist published an article about dress codes in Silicon Valley. The title was “Dress codes: Suitable disruption”, I highlight a few paragraphs below:

<<IN “ZERO TO ONE”, Peter Thiel's forthcoming guide to startups, he lets aspiring tech magnates in on an effective if unorthodox rule for making smart decisions: don’t do business with anyone who dresses in a suit. A slicked-up entrepreneur is inevitably a salesman trying to compensate for an inferior product. Based on this perception, Mr Thiel’s venture fund instituted a blanket rule to pass on any company whose principals dressed in formal wear for pitch meetings. The evidence suggests that Thiel’s bias worked: the fund was an early investor in companies like Napster, Facebook and Spotify. “Maybe we still would have avoided these bad investments if we had taken the time to evaluate each company’s technology in detail,” he writes. “But the team insight—never invest in a tech CEO that wears a suit—got us to the truth a lot faster.”

In Silicon Valley informality has long been de rigueur. But as the startup bug is spreading to innovation hubs across the world, hoodies, T-shirts and sneakers are the new corporate livery. The shift isn’t just a matter of comfort or convenience, but a change in how we conceptualise competence and professionalism. The thinking goes something like this: by stripping away the artificial appearances of showmanship, you can get to the truth about a product, person, or business. It is part of a cultural gravitation toward transparency—and a penchant for disruption in all its forms. People who have the confidence to dress informally and to disrupt traditional business codes, are perceived as more independent, innovative and competent.

Researchers at Harvard Business School call this the “red sneakers effect”. In a study published by The Journal of Consumer Research they note that professors dressed less formally at academic events as they gained higher status. Students also perceived unshaven, devil-may-care professors as more knowledgeable than ones in a dress shirt and tie. These mildly rebellious signals are powerful in a culture that has long emphasised conformity as the road to social acceptance. “Instead of showing you can afford to spend money,” the authors explain, “you’re showing you can afford to spend your social capital… You’re saying, I’m so autonomous and successful that I can afford to dress in a non-conforming way.”>>

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