If you think fleece vests and hoodies are the only acceptable wardrobe staples in Silicon Valley, think again. Thanks to a handful of brilliant, bold, creative women at the top, the tech world is rivaling fashion runways while transforming the world.
Ph.D., managing member of Delphi Ventures
Even if you don’t know Pakianathan’s name or impressive body of work, you very likely know her red carpet presence and head-turning sense of style. The former J.P. Morgan vice president worked as a postdoctoral scientist in the immunology department at Genentech Corporation before joining Delphi in 2001, but she’s somehow found time to remain a major part of the city’s social scene. The Hillsborough resident serves as vice-chair of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Board of Trustees, and she’s frequently spotted at A-list events serving up seriously fierce looks (like the dazzling custom Alexander McQueen ‘cage’ she wore on her head to the season-opening Opera Gala in 2013).
Spotted in: Donna Karan, Pamela Roland, Zuhair Murad, Gucci, Zang Toi
Co-founder of Malala Fund, founding GP of NOW.Ventures
Islamabad-born Shahid began building a name for herself in America when she received a scholarship to Stanford University. But the entrepreneur, investor and women’s rights advocate is still firmly connected to her roots. “I grew up in Pakistan and my home is now in America, so my sense of style integrates the many places and cultures I hold in my heart,” she says. “I love to add a sense of history and story to a midi dress by draping a hand-embroidered shawl made by women in Pakistan, or wearing vintage jewelry from Afghanistan that has passed countless hands and holds many stories. It keeps me connected to home and rooted in my identity.”
Spotted in: Shamaeel Ansari, Tena Durrani, Rebecca Taylor, LoveShackFancy, Ulla Johnson, Alice & Olivia
Co-founder and co-CEO of ThirdLove
Like most brilliant ideas, ThirdLove was born from pure frustration. In 2013, company co-founder Zak found herself without a well-fitted bra before a holiday party, and couldn’t bear the thought of shelling out cash for another disappointment. Instead, she left her position at Google to help launch a bra brand based on real women’s measurements. Eight years later, Zak is still obsessed with impeccable design. “I generally prefer to mix it up,” she says. “My style really depends on the day and what I have scheduled. When I’m in a casual mood and running around the office, I love my high-waisted Apiece Apart Merida Pants in white denim. When I’m speaking at a conference or attending an event, I love to wear jumpsuits. They instantly make me feel dressed up and are so easy to accessorize.”
Spotted in: Alice + Olivia, Rag & Bone, APIECE APART, Vince, DVF, Paul Green
Whitney Wolfe Herd
Founder and CEO of Bumble
What started as a dating app has become something of a feminist movement — and who better to lead the charge than Bumble’s founder and CEO? The Tinder co-founder broke the mold when she created her own swipe-based app that put women in the driver’s seat — ”symbolic of a Sadie Hawkins dance,” she told Forbes. Nearly four years after its launch, Bumble now offers non-dating modalities for women to network professionally and socially, and the company is valued at $1 billion. Through it all, Wolfe Herd has weathered the ups and downs of running an empire with grace and style, favoring classic silhouettes and fabrics that work equally well for daytime meetings and evening events.
Spotted in: Victoria Beckham, Crimson, Loro Piana, Chanel
CEO of YouTube
As the chief executive officer of YouTube, Wojcicki has forged a digital landscape for nuanced storytelling — and for female representations that are so much more than skin-deep. In a 2016 op-ed for Adweek, Wojcicki reflected on the kind of mainstream female depictions she grew up with (think: Barbie parading around in ball gowns, bathing suits, and wedding dresses). Under Wojcicki’s leadership, YouTube has created a platform for lengthier, more complex stories, many of which are designed to empower women, rather than define them by their looks. Dismantling the status quo requires a no-nonsense wardrobe, and Wojcicki sticks to simple, streamlined shades and silhouettes. But the pioneer still infuses her own sense of style into straightforward staples, incorporating touches like cropped leather jackets and knee-high boots to otherwise traditional looks.
Spotted in: Versace, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Stella McCartney
CEO of Thrive Global
Last year, the business icon made waves when she encouraged women to preserve the time typically spent sourcing new outfits and devote it instead to professional endeavors. “Men have a competitive advantage,” she said at the 2017 Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit. “They don’t have to waste the kind of energy we waste.” The co-founder and former editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post practices what she preaches, employing the hashtag #repeats when Instagramming outfits she’s worn more than once. Now at the helm of health and wellness startup Thrive Global, Huffington manages to look sleek, sophisticated and playful, whether donning an original or a duplicate.
Spotted in: Michaela Jedinak, Ali Rahimi, Nanette Lepore