Three photos of Zuckerberg: one of him in a white tee, one of him in a blue tee and chain, and one of him in a shearling jacket.

Mark Zuckerberg looks different. His hair is longer and less restrained. His clothes hang from his frame with an enviable ease, and a rotating repertoire of link chains adorn his neck. For years, Zuckerberg applied the same daily diet of dark wash jeans, gray fitted tees, dad sneakers, and a close, cropped haircut à la his idol Augustus Caesar.

Now, it looks like he has taken a sartorial chill pill.

Online, reactions have been positive enough that Zuckerberg has begun to engage in the discourse. He’s asked fashion insider and Instagram’s director of fashion partnerships Eva Chen to weigh in on his chain (too long, she said — she was right). A meme of Zuckerberg, edited with facial hair, has also made the rounds. 

Before this sudden switch up, Zuckerberg was known for the no-nonsense wardrobe popular with tech execs who hope to be perceived as too busy (or too serious) to care about what they wear. Steve Jobs, famously, wore a uniform of a black Issey Miyake turtleneck and Levi’s 501 classic fit jeans. When asked about his choice to wear gray t-shirts in 2014, Zuckerberg spun it into a commentary on the importance of his work: “I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life” he said, “and that way, I can dedicate all my energy to building the best products and services and helping us reach our goal and achieve our mission.”

Mark Zuckerberg, mid sentence, dressed in a gray tee.
Zuckerberg in uniform in 2017.
Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In 2024, it would seem that frivolity is no longer a concern. In February, Zuckerberg let his hair grow out into natural curls and replaced his fitted tees with relaxed, structured cuts in new colors (white! black! blue!). He visited Japan in a shearling jacket and, for the wedding of the son of Indian billionaire and business partner Mukesh Ambani, wore matching Alexander McQueen and Rahul Mishra ensembles with his wife Priscilla Chan. In March, he implied that the shearling had become his signature look when he exchanged it for the leather jacket of billionaire Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang in a photo op he captioned “jersey swap.”

Earlier this month, the chain arrived — multiple chains, actually, worn on different days. The accessory’s first major appearance was in videos posted to X which documented the couple’s attendance at a UFC fight in meticulously crafted looks: Zuckerberg in his chain and structured tee, Chan in a gold Chanel necklace, cropped fur coat, combat boots, and black top with a plunging neckline.

It was a far cry from the Zuckerberg we used to know and, for that matter, the Chan of the past. A coworker of mine had equated her personal style to the inventory of J. Crew. Now, Business Insider praised her for pulling off “mob chic,” a reference to the trending “mob wife” aesthetic (though most mafia dons’ better halves would probably pass on combat boots). “When did Priscilla become hot?” asked one X user in a tweet liked 44,000 times.

It was clear that the Zuckerbergs had hired a stylist, and it was money well spent.

Shortly after the fight, Zuckerberg took to Instagram Reels to announce updates to Meta AI. He addressed his followers while sporting a chain and his longer hair, introducing the look to a new audience. Memes abounded but the most popular was a screenshot of the video that had been altered to look like Zuckerberg had also grown facial hair. People liked it.

Instagram gossip account The Shade Room reposted the edited photo to its more than 29 million followers, adding Sexyy Red’s song “Get it Sexyy” to the post for effect. “Who did this?” Zuckerberg commented from his account. Gwyneth Paltrow commented, too, noting how much he resembled her ex, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, a compliment of the highest degree to any middle-aged white man.

Since then, comments on Zuckerberg’s Instagram posts have demanded that he grow out his beard. When he isn’t wearing a chain, the people call for that, too.

In his interaction with Instagram’s Eva Chen on April 23rd, he addressed the accessory outright, classifying it as a personal project of sorts. “I’m actually in the process of designing a long-term chain,” he told her, “and what I’m going for is I’m working with a designer to engrave the prayer that I sing to my girls every night when I put them to bed on the end of the chain.”

This sartorial shift has run parallel to a lifestyle change that has seen Zuckerberg engaging with masculinity in new ways. In 2022, he began sharing videos of him sparring with UFC greats and attending fights. In 2023, he competed in a jiu-jitsu tournament and tore his ACL. In January, he shared on Instagram that he was raising cattle with the goal of “[creating] some of the highest quality beef in the world” and posted a video of Chan “catching” him playing what appears to be Call of Duty with friends in couple’s home bunker.

In July 2023, twin successes were likened by The Atlantic and Wall Street Journal to a renaissance of sorts for Zuckerberg: the launch of Meta-owned X alternative Threads and Zuckerberg’s challenge to take on Elon Musk in a physical fight.

The past two weeks feel like another turning point, perhaps the opening of a new era. Throughout the 2010s, Zuckerberg’s uniform turned him into a sort of extraterrestrial caricature of a human, drained of personality and color. Now, thanks to a few styling changes, he is approaching relatability. And while there’s certainly no crime in being stylish, there’s something nefarious about a billionaire aspiring to popular approval. Mark Zuckerberg, the fourth richest person in the world, does not need more attention. In fact, with a net worth of $177 billion, he doesn’t need anything. So why does he seem to care so much?

Perhaps because relatability can evolve into respectability, a public sentiment that has been in low supply for Zuckerberg in recent years (a 2022 NBC News poll found that just 8 percent of respondents held a “positive” view of him). The Social Network‘s fictional depiction of Zuckerberg as an awkward, jealous Harvard nerd belies a kernel of truth: that Zuckerberg has always just wanted to be liked and admired. It was, after all, the reason he created Facebook to begin with.

The problem with Zuckerberg’s current bid for respectability is that he does not, at present, deserve it. The 39-year-old is a white guy rapidly accumulating billions as the gaping maw of the wealth gap groans ever wider.

And with the American Presidential elections just seven months away, Zuckerberg’s new look could conveniently serve as a distraction from the scrutiny Meta may face over its handling of foreign interference and misinformation.

Zuckerberg holds too much power and has too much money to be innocently wooing the public with an aesthetic glow-up. Forgive me for not complimenting his jacket.

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