Sartorial Decisions of Sandberg and Marc


There’s been all this talk recently about dress code, albeit unwritten, that women at work must (or should) adhere to, while men don’t really need to. The article I read had an interesting heading – ‘Could Sheryl Sandberg Dress Like Mark Zuckerberg and Succeed?’.

Well, that’s debatable. I mean, I there’s a lot more to getting where she has than wearing high heels, which she loves, by the way (Image below)

Well, that’s debatable. I mean, I there’s a lot more to getting where she has than wearing high heels, which she loves, by the way (Image below)


The question is, does she love to wear them, or does he think she needs (or needed) to wear them. The answer is never that straightforward. Maybe she genuinely likes them and wearing them has not hurt her career. However, it’s unlikely that she would have remained confined to a cubicle had she not chosen to dress the way she did. Attributing sartorial reasons for anyone’s success, or failure, is absurd. Sandberg’s career trajectory, like those of most successful people, is a mix of many, many factors. The question is, is high heels one of them? Probably. But it’s not that simple.

This brings me to another point – do men have to adhere to dressing standards too? From what some studies show, not the same as women, but they still need to dress up (whatever that means in a man’s world). In the VC world, for instance, can a man wear a hoodie to a meeting? Unlikely. So it’s not about Sandberg and Marc – they are exceptions who would have succeeded, high heels and hoodies notwithstanding. If you are Marc Zuckerberg, it does not matter what you wear – you can give a TED talk about the ideology and tweet a picture of your fifty-shades-of-grey sweatshirts and the world will lap it up. And if you are Sandberg the world will tweet pictures of your stilettos.


The truth probably is that if a woman had founded Facebook and she chose to wear a hoodie, chances are the world would still take her for what she was than judge her for attire. She would be hailed as the cool techie woman and would be lauded for eschewing the business suit for a hoodie.

So, let’s, for the sake of argument, move away from Marc and Sandberg, and talk about the average man and woman in the office. The truth is that women do face more pressure and feel the need to dress up more than men do. And they feel that this affects their career trajectory. But I am not sure that there’s a real correlation between getting promoted (as some women have claimed) and dressing. I mean, there probably is a correlation, but that, I think, applies to both men and women. It’s not like boardrooms are full of women wearing high heels and men wearing hoodies. It’s full of dressed up men and women.

For every example of a woman reaching the heights of success wearing a natty suit, there is one of a woman who didn’t. Indra Nooyi, being a case in point.

Climbing up the corporate ladder requires many, many skills and factors to come together. If it were that easy, we’d all be CEOs by now.

There’s no script, in my humble opinion, to success. Not a straightforward one, at any rate. I think Sandberg would have been where she is, even if she chose to wear flat shoes. Would she wear hoodies? She probably doesn’t want to.

Read more about this at:

#SameOutfitDifferentDay: Could a Woman Get Away With the Zuckerberg Uniform?

Can Women Get Away With Wearing the Same Thing to Work Every Day?
   Gopika Kaul

4 thoughts

  1. Well I think there is an element of comparing apples and pears. Zuckerberg never had to be client facing, and was already successful when it sought investment, and there was no need to impress people to get money. Sandberg on the other hand comes from an establishment background and would have become familiar with the trappings of her position. If the Facebook COO was a male former Chief of Staff to the Treasury Secretary then he would most likely be more comfortable appearing in public wearing a suit and tie but that would be an unlikely situation because establishment males are often not very social media aware. Ultimately it’s down to the background of an individual which forms their preferences when appearing in public.


    1. I completely agree. It is apples and pears in this case. I think there’s been a lot of so called studies out there on the topic – about how women feel the pressure to dress in a certain way. Personally, I don’t believe it has to be that way. Also, the “pressure” is equal for men and women.

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment..

      Liked by 1 person

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