Personally, I’ve been wearing outrageous socks for years, so imagine my surprise and delight when I recently discovered that flamboyant footwear is actually an official badge of entrepreneurial honor – and according to a source as authoritative as the New York Times, no less. Even better, this article came out within a day or two of a package arriving in the Simple Energy office – containing official San Francisco-made startup socks for all of us. Finally, the day or two before the socks, we had also received our long-awaited Sphero shipment, completing our startup scene with a robotic ball that drives our office dog crazy. To celebrate, we all had a beer on Friday afternoon.
According to the New York Times article, silly socks are like some kind of secret startup handshake. “In a land where the uniform — jeans, hoodies and flip-flops — is purposefully nonchalant, and where no one would be caught dead in a tie, wearing flashy socks is more than an expression of your personality. It signals that you are part of the in crowd. It’s like a secret handshake for those who have arrived, and for those who want to.”
Reviewing my attire from the last week, I realize I’ve been conforming almost creepily well with this paradoxically casual uniform. Startling socks: every day. Jeans and hoodie: check. I’ve even got a Simple Energy t-shirt on under the TechStars hoodie. Flip-flops will just have to wait until the snow melts, although come to think of it, how would you wear cool socks with flip-flops? My pink and orange striped socks go much better with my boots and sneakers, thank you very much.
Further speculating on the startup penchent for silly stockings, the article continues: “Some say the craze took hold because socks are an acceptable shot of flair in a dressed-down, male-dominated culture — and peek out when entrepreneurs present their latest apps onstage at the tech world’s frequent conferences. Others offer a perhaps more universal explanation. “Girls notice,” said Matt Graves, 37, a communications director at Twitter, who prefers orange and blue stripes.”
Not only are the startup guys trying to get the girls to notice – some of them even prefer lady’s socks because they are more, ahem, exciting. “Sometimes I will even browse the women’s section and get the XXL, because they have all the fun colors,” said Andrew Trader, 42, an investor at Maveron who helped found Zynga. (He is partial to wool socks with bright stripes as well as a pair with an American flag pattern.)” If you want to get really crazy, apparently there is even something called “rocking the Stevens” which involves wearing slightly mismatched socks, to let everyone know just how wacky you truly are.
As the only member of the fairer sex currently in the Simple Energy office, at least I can feel secure in my sock selection. I’ll let the guys play with the robotic balls.