How to dress for a Startup – put that suit away

Shaaz Nasir

How to dress for a Startup?

In 2012 I had the opportunity to work for one of Canada’s fastest growing ecommerce startups, Shopify. Previously I had been working in various jobs within the public and private sector that required crisp suits and sharp dress shoes. I was thinking of pursuing an MBA but then realized working at a startup would give me real skills, faster.

But I knew Shopify would be different, as I sent my cover letter filled with quirky jokes which actually included “lols” in it at 3 am.

The moment I passed the interviews I knew my entire business wardrobe built over 4 years was rendered useless. Was it time to panic? Not at all. I just threw on a t shirt and some generic shorts as I started my first week. I observed the general vibe and realized that there is still a dress-code required for working for a start-up. No, it’s not about looking like pre IPO Mark Zuckerberg. Put down that cheesy hoodie and follow these 4 tips and suggestions to inject that certain something into your wardrobe:

1. Shoes

Shoes are the corner stone of any outfit, stick to some boat shoes, comfy loafers, or some classic converse shoes. Avoid dressy shoes which scream ‘wall street’.

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2. Pants

Fit is every thing with pants and shorts. Here are some from Pull & Bear, H&M, and Zara. All are affordable and comfy. You want your thighs to breathe but at the same time don’t want to look like you’re from a 1990s Gap Commercial with poorly fitted clothes.1701301803_2_2_1 6861370707_2_2_1 PB 2 Shorts Fit


3. Shirts

It’s a startup, have some fun. Remember though, that fit is king and you don’t need to stick with boring crew neck collars. Try a wide neck line or one with some buttons that allow your chest and neck some breathing room.


Don’t forget to smile though!

4. Rainbows and Unicorns!

Add whatever you want, it’s a startup that nurtures your odd ball creativity and doesn’t ask you to mask it. Try beads, strange necklaces, cool socks. The sky is the limit as long as you understand that fitting clothes and great looking shoes will take you far in your start-up life.



Next up, how to dress for the Banking world…..