In the new millennium, the confidence to dress informally and to disrupt traditional business codes only grew. Zuckerberg famously turned up to his Facebook IPO roadshows in his standard, nondescript uniform, causing consternation among Wall Street veterans. But what corporate conservatives don’t seem to understand is that the “CEO Casual” look is not about age (the lack thereof ) or disrespect. Rather, it’s about presenting a modern, independent and innovative message. Moreover, dressing down only showcases how much power he commands; just because investors disagreed with his fashion choice, doesn’t mean they’re going to stop fighting for a piece of his company ( in fact, Zuckerberg’s going to stick to his casuals, and investors are going to like it).
But as waves of hoodie-wearing millennials flooded companies, it’s hard to tell who’s truly innovative and who’s merely posing. And once everyone in the workplace is wearing T-shirts, sartorial individuality is poised to stand out. Hipster- dandies rose to revive the suit, but with maverick cuts to demonstrate that they’ve got the stuff to pull it off (case in point: the abominable shrunken suit – which originated from Thom Browne - worn with exposed ankles). There’s also a hybridisation of dress codes of sorts, either in the ensemble (suits worn with sneakers or joggers) or in the garments themselves (drawstring suit trousers, or technical-fabric suits like Z Zegna’s Techmerino). The new emphasis on originality and freedom meant that anything goes in the office, really, insofar as it is polished and presentable. At the end of the day, the trend towards informality doesn’t actually get away from the traditional business emphasis on appearance and presentation. It simply replaces one standard with another that is, in its own way, just as preoccupied with appearance. But at the very least, men are finally able to say that they wear suits when and how they want to.