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How to dress for power like Apple CEO Tim Cook

Silicon Valley stars are famous for their intentionally mundane wardrobes.

Silicon Valley stars are famous for their intentionally mundane wardrobes.

Tech idols like Mark Zuckerberg to Steve Jobs have created a conviction in tech culture that the more time you spend dressing yourself every morning, the less time you spend changing the world. Even President Obama is sold on the idea. The rigid adherence to a single outfit is the new sign of power. 

Tim Cook, however, has tried to carve out his own path as Apple CEO, away from the precise lines of his predecessor, Steve Jobs, when they once dressed very similarly:

In this Oct. 14, 2008 photo, from left: Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, CEO Steve Jobs, and vice president Phil Schiller take questions during a meeting at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.
Image: Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

But now, compared to Jobs’ rigid uniform of black turtlenecks, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers, Tim Cook’s clothing is downright flashy. 

But by the rest of the world’s standards, the Apple CEO sports a pretty narrow range of clothing choices with a penchant for the casual and muted colors — a style best described as his own unique brand of “norm-core.” 

At Wednesday’s Apple event, for instance, Cook’s open collared bright blue shirt — tucked in for once — and unpretentious dad jeans cut a stark contrast to the luxury ambience of the products that flitted across the screen behind him. Tim Cook is not a peacock, as viewers could see in this picture of him low-fiving Apple executive Eddy Cue in bright red.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, welcomes Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software, on stage as they discuss the Apple TV. 
Image: Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Yet, Cook has accomplished something enviable in his few years as CEO: he radiates power, without dressing like anything special. So for anyone looking to imitate Cook — or maybe in the market for a very obscure Apple-related Halloween costume — here’s a quick guide for dressing like the leader of the world’s biggest company.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 8, 2015. 
Image: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Know your colors and stick to them

Cook’s color choices tend towards darker shades — seldom straying from a set range of light and dark blues, black, and when he’s feeling wild, gray. 

There may be something to this strategy: Fashion consultants say that blues can inspire confidence in others and, in lighter shades, signals loyalty and friendliness.

Black is apparently a riskier bet in terms of connotation. While there’s a certain air of class and sophistication that goes along with it, it’s also possible that people will perceive depression or a darker spirit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California USA 10, June 2013.

Commit to the dad jean

An untucked shirt, of course, highlights your choice of pants. 

The boring blue jeans most often associated with ’90s-era dads are also a staple of Cook’s wardrobe. While Cook’s choice in denim is a bit hipper than Jobs’ unabashedly dad-like stone-washed jeans, there’s still a certain plainness to them that befits a “norm-core” look.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., talks with Cyrus Chan, left, at the Apple Store during the launch and sale of the new iPhone 6 on Friday, Sept 19, 2014, in Palo Alto, Calif. Note the rumpled look, from t-shirt to jeans.

Undo your cuffs

Be vigilant. Don’t just watch your hems. Make sure your shirt cuffs reflect a devil-may-care genius aspect that show you’re too busy and too much in motion to roll them up. Precision in dress is for people with too much time on their hands to manage their looks. People in motion will have clothes in motion.

Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2014 with mismatched cuffs.
Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Make sure you stand out, even if it’s by being excessively normal

Tim Cook’s subtle style means he can fade into the background. To avoid that, he is often photographed around well-chosen foils: sharp-dressed men who, with leather or lilac-colored shirts, highlight his understated look. It’s a risky maneuver, but being comfortable in a subtle outfit around people who have put in an effort is an advanced maneuver – not even Silicon Valley, but very French. Power is ease.

Tim Cook with Bono, The Edge and the rest of U2. 
Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Accessorize with your favorite Apple Watch

The Apple CEO’s image is not complete without his ubiquitous Apple Watch with the new watch band and of courser a bottle of SmartWater. There’s nothing powerful about dehydration.

Apple WatchSilver Aluminum Case with Solo Loop band.

How to dress for power like Apple CEO Tim Cook

Obviously he’s not going to wear a Hanes blue t-shirt. But instead, he might wear a blue essential cotton tee from Theory.

Theory Essential Tee in Slub Cotton.

The Essential tee is our most casual T-shirt. Cut from slubbed cotton that’s soft and lightweight, this crewneck shirt comfortably layers under sweaters and jackets alike.

For the latest keynote presented this April, Tim worn a Tyler Vicinia Slim-Fit by J Brand, jeans in black. And of course Tim is only wearing sustainable apparel.

J Brand tailored jeans.

Essential skinny jeans with classic styling for a chic look. This tailored jeans by J Brand are marking the difference.

You can see latest Apple Event, this time took in Apple Park on the April 20, 2021.

Watch on Apple TV

Chris McCracken is a photoblogger who positively describes every photo session, male models and fashion around the world. Check out the blog Fashionably Male since 2010 has been exhibited the best features and collaborations.

1 comment on “How to dress for power like Apple CEO Tim Cook

  1. James Vincent

    For a big fan of Tim as a CEO, I assume that I have purchased the same style clothing, t-shirt and jeans but cheaper. Lol.

    Like

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