Mark Zuckerberg in a Suit. Big News Day.
When Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, arrived on Capitol Hill to testify in front of Congress about a monumental user data privacy concern journalists lost their collective minds. Not about the details of the data breach—about his suit! Or more clearly—the fact that he was wearing a suit at all! Because Mark Zuckerberg in a suit is kind of a big deal.
Anyone who hasn’t been under a rock for the past 14 years has a visual image of Mark Zuckerberg in their mind. Boyish pale face. Gray tee shirt, basic jeans and a hoodie. That’s his uniform. It’s so he doesn’t have to make decisions before he starts his day. It’s true—he said that.
There are some images of him in a suit over the years. Like when he met President Obama and other heads of state, once when he gave a commencement speech at Harvard. Once when he testified in court on behalf of a tech company that he had a vested interest in. And of course at his own wedding. None of those occasions generated nearly as much negative publicity for obvious reasons. He screwed up this time. But this time a lot of the coverage was downright mean.
Journalists Join Forces to Speculate on Suit Motivation
A quick Google search for news about Mark Zuckerberg in a suit yielded a number of articles from popular media heavyweights that touched on the purpose of the congressional hearings. But mostly on the suit. The New York Times’ story was entitled Mark Zuckerberg’s I’m Sorry Suit. The New Yorker’s was The Suit Wears Mark Zuckerberg. Both writers speculated on how calculated his appearance was and whether or not the appropriate amount of respect for the event was infused into his very on-brand dark blue suit with a Facebook-blue colored tie. There was a little discussion of the ethics issue too.
Fashion and lifestyle bloggers were much more brutal in their critiques, homing in on the poor fit of his jacket, the lousy knot in his tie, the slightly baggy shirt with an oddly fashionable collar style as if it were far too fashionable for this billionaire nerd. For example Fashionista posted Hey, Quick Question: Did Mark Zuckerberg wear a Suit Yesterday? which awesomely quoted a virtual library of other snarky articles about the Facebook CEO’s less-than-stellar fashion sense.
The Suit Incident is Uncomfortable
The global Zuckerberg suit critique has me a little shaken up and I’m not exactly sure why. Is it because they are being mean to him? Maybe it’s because they are focusing on the wrong problem? It could be because as a woman I’m conditioned to feel uncomfortable by the media’s constant critique of women’s fashion choices. (and bodies… and faces… and words… and actions… sigh) Am I genuinely worried that Billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s self-esteem may be diminished? No. That’s not it. For sure.
It may be because I really just want to weigh in on the whole topic. Maybe I just want to help. I sell suits—maybe I can help? Wait. It’s too late to help this poor guy. Zuckerberg is at the mercy of the press and the politicians now. And let’s not forget the public. He’s doomed to never be a fashion icon. He’ll probably have to rethink his whole “I don’t want to grow up” Tech Disruptor uniform now too. Even that look has been trashed.
Zuckerberg in a Suit. Was it Even Necessary?
Let’s tackle another question on everyone’s lips. Why did he wear a suit? Did he even need to? I think he decided to wear a suit for the same reasons that most nerds don suits. To show respect for the event. He is respectful when it’s serious. Zuckerberg’s only crime (so far) is being a big nerd. He is a nerd and he wears a suit like a nerd. I mean that as a term of endearment. Anyone who has ever seen a Tech Awards show knows that. Adorable talented nerds who couldn’t care less about whether their pants are falling down. We expect nerds to screw up style. We need them for the grading curve. At least he didn’t wear a top-hat or something really weird. Zuckerberg could have hired a team of stylists and had a cool custom-made tailored suit for the hearings. Imagine the journalistic venom if he had gone that route! He couldn’t win this.
My guess is that he spent about five more minutes thinking about that suit than the outfit he wears every day. The truth is that Zuckerberg could have never made a style choice that would have satisfied the media and his superior brain figured it out right away.The Facebook-blue tie was a no-brainer. Branding is a thing—lest we forget. It’s not like it had a logo on it! It wasn’t shameless promotion. In fact, it was kind of shameful promotion.
The Z-Suit Debacle In Conclusion
As of this writing, it is still a mystery how the Zuckerberg in a Suit Debacle happened. It’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out judging by all the speculation before and during the hearings. I’ll throw a hat into the ring and venture a few guesses on what prompted this unfortunate and extremely “newsworthy” fashion faux pas.
- He grabbed the first suit, shirt and tie he saw in his little suit closet.
- He grabbed the second suit, shirt and tie he saw but all the garments in his closet are exactly the same.
- His wife, who is equally nerdy and cares even less what people think of his appearance, chose the outfit.
- He consulted Barack Obama —also a “uniform” guy.
And finally, the most unfortunate of possible outcomes to this difficult situation…
5. He crowd-sourced the outfit through a sketchy quiz on Facebook!
Let’s hope not.
I guess what I’m saying is this.
Mark, have your people reach out. We can help you with Facebook uniforms.