The Uniforms of Silicon Valley, a Slideshow

Black Friday, Cyber Monday: the U.S. has once again kicked its consumption into high gear. But if Silicon Valley’s elite spends lavishly on clothing, you can bet it bet it will be understated. It’s the Silicon Valley way. And why? Because fashion takes time and effort, people, and no one wants to be accused of plucking just the right ensemble together when they could have created and sold a consumer Web startup in those same precious minutes. Besides, for a true – and truly rich – tech geek, it’s far more fun to advertise one’s success by pre-ordering a Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid than to brandish the latest from Hermes.

Herewith are a number of people who’ve really gotten with the Silicon Valley program, whose signature style has become so much like a uniform that not only must it be easy and quick to dress (smart), but they’re easily recognizable at a distance of up to 500 feet, too.


[slide title=”Steve Jobs”]

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was nearly as well known for his round glasses, black turtlenecks, and 501 jeans as Apple’s many elegant consumer products. That’s exactly how he wanted it to be.

We learned after Jobs’ recent passing, from Walter Isaacson’s biography, that those turtlenecks didn’t come from the Gap, either. Rather, Jobs commissioned them from designer Issey Miyake, whose own style Jobs admired. Miyake went on to make Jobs “like a hundred of them,” Jobs told Isaacson.

[slide title=”Mark Zuckerberg”]

Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg is called “Zuck” by those who know him well, but he might have been nicknamed “Hoodie,” so powerfully do we connect the man to his hooded jersey jackets.

Many – okay, I – thought Zuckerberg might abandon his layered look after a high-profile debacle at the AllThingsD conference in June 2010, when Zuckerberg reluctantly peeled off his sweat-drenched hoodie as he was being interviewed by journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg.

Yet the hoodie wearing perseveres, and perhaps, that’s as it should be, given Zuckerberg’s apparent passion for Facebook. As he revealed at that same AllThingsD conference, la hoodie is more than a mere garment to him. Tucked inside the garment – where no one can see it, ironically — is an illustration accompanied by Facebook’s mission statement to “keep the world open and connected.”

[slide title=”Vinod Khosla”]

Vinod Khosla, the Sun Microsystems cofounder turned venture capitalist, is a household name in Silicon Valley. But what he wears is just as familiar. Stealing a page from Steve Jobs, Khosla — who favors pants versus jeans — almost always wears a mock turtleneck. For years, the turtleneck was a sort of wheat color. In more recent years, Khosla has turned to black.

[slide title=”Mark Pincus”]

Zynga founder Mark Pincus doesn’t adhere strictly to a uniform, but he clearly has a penchant for T-shirts, particularly those that advertise one of the many brands under Zynga, including FarmVille.

I’d guess that during his out-of-office hours, wife Alison Gelb Pincus — the fashionable cofounder of One Kings Lane, online resource for designer home wares — kicks up his game.

[slide title=”Roger McNamee”]

With the distinctive mane that Elevation Partners’ head Roger McNamee has sported for roughly forever, who even notices what he’s wearing? The hair is the uniform. It’s art.

[slide title=”Tony Conrad”]

Tony Conrad has cofounded and sold two companies to AOL in recent years: Sphere and The part-time True Ventures venture capitalist – who has always had an eye for design (and whose wife is an architect-turned artist) — has also taken to thicker glasses and occasional scarves.

I recently tried pulling off a similar look with disastrous effect. (I’m no Anne Hathaway.) Meanwhile, Conrad has managed to make it his own.

[slide title=”Every Other VC You’ve Ever Met”]

Ah yes, you must be a VC if you wear blue shirts, khakis, and, on conference days, one of your closet full of plaid jackets also makes an appearance.

Yes, it’s an embarrassing stereotype, but there’s no reason to shrink from it at this late date. In fact, in an era where early-stage investors have begun to blur into entrepreneurs and vice versa, it’s kind of refreshing to walk into a room know which is which.