Dress Code & Travel Tips for Business Trip to Apple
February 7, 2015 4:34 AM   Subscribe

I will be taking a business trip to Apple very soon and neither my wardrobe nor my travel skills are ready. Are you familiar with Apple's dress code and/or Cupertino travel tips?

Here are the problems with my trip...

I own no business clothes. I normally wear expensive jeans plus a dressy top and sweater to work because my office is super casual, but I am in a leadership position and need to look it. What's the dress code for visitors at a place like Apple? Can I get away with my dark jeans, some heels or fancy flats, and two nice tops?

I cannot bring a regular suitcase so I need to wear one outfit on the plane and have my day 2 outfit be something that won't wrinkle because I also won't have access to an iron and the bag my clothes will be in is small. What fabrics should I be looking for if I do invest in pants, a dress, a blazer, whatever?

I am flying into San Jose Airport. I have 45 min between arrival and my appointment at Apple. What shuttle/taxi service should I take if I'm gonna be traveling in morning rush hour? Any routes I should investigate so we aren't stuck in traffic?


I am really freaking out about this because it's a huge opportunity, I need to travel light in a way I've never had to before, and I feel like I will not look like I deserve to be there for this event unless I know exactly what will make me professional looking but comfortable. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, 45 minutes won't cut it. You need an earlier flight. It will take you at least 30 minutes to get out of the airport. You've got a 10 mile drive between the airport and Cupertino. If you're driving in rush hour....there's no way. What if your flight is delayed? Why are you cutting it so close?

Fly in the night before and stay in a motel near the Apple campus. Why do you have to travel so light? Why won't you have access to an iron?

FWIW, if you want, you can buy a new outfit at Valley Fair, a large mall right down the street on Stevens Creek Blvd. Bring a tote bag to bring everything back with you.

If I were visiting Apple, even if everyone there was wearing jorts and flip-flops, I'd still feel more comfortable in at least business casual. So black slacks, and perhaps a sweater set. Scarf, necklace, leather shoes. Especially if I were presenting to them for new business or for a job interview.

Chicos has a line of clothing called Travelers. They're comfortable, easy care and pretty versatile.

You're very vague about the constraints you're imposing and exactly what you'll be doing at Apple. Those details can be very useful and will provide you with more targeted information.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:44 AM on February 7, 2015 [13 favorites]

You don't say where you're based, but in case this is helpful....I don't know about Apple specifically, but as someone on the East Coast, I do always find when I have business travel to the West Coast that I am not only slightly overdressed in terms of formality, but that I have brought fabrics that are too heavy and dark (in the winter) or too East Coast preppy (in the summer).

Based on that, I'd go for something that looks sharp and modern, but not a full suit. A structured dress with a scarf? A silk blouse under a moto-jacket style blazer with slim ankle pants? Something like that. I wouldn't wear dark jeans if I were hoping to make a good first impression. But there are lots of business-casual pants that don't wrinkle. And if you roll silk tops with your other clothes they hold up pretty well in a suitcase. Good luck!
posted by chocotaco at 5:49 AM on February 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Get a pair of black trousers in a woven stretch fabric (example) and they'll be as comfortable as jeans but dressier. You can wear them two days in a row with different tops. You can wear almost any top with them; just avoid wearing a black blazer in a non-matching fabric where you'll look like you're trying to make a suit out of pieces that aren't a suit.

Can you possibly reschedule your flight or the appointment? I'm not familiar with San Jose in particular, but 45 minutes between arrival and any other commitment is cutting it very close for air travel in general. Just deplaning and making your way through the airport can eat into that time significantly, and that's not even accounting for the possibility of the flight running late, the possibility that you'll have to wait in line at the taxi rank, etc.
posted by Orinda at 7:42 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Having been to their office, I think your standard outfit sounds fine, as long as the jeans are very dark and flawless. They're going to be much more interested in what you have to say than what you're wearing.

SJC is a tiny airport and easy to navigate, so you should be able to get out quickly. In theory, there's just enough time to make it, but if your flight is delayed, or there's an accident on your chosen route, or even just heavier than usual rush hour traffic, you have no chance. You really need more time.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:02 AM on February 7, 2015

I don't work at Apple but do live in Cupertino. I agree that 45 minutes is not doable at all. There are really only two viable routes. In the morning I-280 will likely be jammed west/northbound, the way you're wanting to go. Stevens Creek will be lighter on traffic but there are a lot of traffic lights. Same with El Camino. There's also Central Expressway further north but it's also prone to traffic going west in the morning. Plus it's a bit out of the way. You'll need 2 hours from your arrival at the absolute bare minimum.
posted by zsazsa at 8:08 AM on February 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you'd feel less casual (and therefore more confident), you could swap out the jeans for a slim cut pant in gabardine, ponte or other nondenim fabric.

A trouser pant sounds like it might be too formal, but I personally think a woman in a trouser pant without a jacket looks professional at a midpoint between "casual office" and "arguing in front of a Federal appellate panel"--provided she's not loaded up with pearls.

The woman who runs Capitol Hill Style is transitioning East to West coast right now. Maybe you could browse her site for some suggestions? Her outfit pairings are usually perfectly reasonable office wear.

Clothes are stressful, but I find that when I interview people or host a consultant, that the more "uniform" the outfit, the less it informs my opinion of the person or presentation. So, dark pants (hemmed to the right length for the shoe) and a simple top in a neutral or muted color tends to just fade into the background and not make much of an impression. Simple jewelry (if any), fresh manicure, and you're good to go.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:24 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I work at Apple and regularly interact with management and execs.
Visitors seem to get dressed up in suits when they come here. But you can probably get away with dressy business casual as that's the way most of the execs dress?

Good luck!
posted by raw sugar at 8:41 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

* 45 minutes is not enough time to land, deplane, leave airport, get transport, and arrive at Apple. You will be late.

* I would not wear jeans. I don't think they are appropriate for someone in a leadership position who is visiting Apple for a huge opportunity.

*Buy a pair of black pants. Banana Republic has a style I like (Sloan fit). You can wear the same pants both days.

* It sounds like you may have tops covered. They don't have to scream Business Blouse! but they should not be mistaken for something you'd wear to grab beers with friends.

* Wear heels (wear the same ones both days)

* Accessorize your outfits both days with earrings, necklace, maybe a scarf on one of the days.

*If you're wearing outfit #1 there, you will only need to pack the shirt & accessories for day #2.

* I think you will have to find a way to access an iron so you can iron both the pants that you are going to re-wear and the packed shirt for day #2.
posted by aviatrix at 8:57 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Once a week, Mr. killy willy flies into San Jose and works at Apple. (He is not an Apple employee.) Here are his thoughts.

Dress code: casual. If you're seeing lower level folks, as long as you don't look like you slept under a bridge, no problem. But your meeting sounds a little more high level, so go for business casual and polished. You don't need to look like Ivanka Trump but be put together and well groomed. Others have provided good specific recommendations.

Travel/transport: the Mr. usually gets a rental car so can't advise on specific shuttle services. He states that any cab might be able to get you to Apple from the airport within 45 minutes, with moderate traffic. Be aware that flight delays are common. Even a short delay will derail your timeline. Example: last week his flight was diverted from San Jose to Oakland due to fog. An hour and a half and a $137 cab ride later, he arrived at Apple. If there is any way you can adjust your schedule I strongly recommend it. You want to feel relaxed and confident for your meeting; if you've done an O.J. through the airport and stressed out during a 45-minute-plus shuttle ride you're already behind the curve. This is a Big Deal for you and you should set yourself up for success! Good luck!
posted by killy willy at 9:06 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, you will need to get a visitors badge, which will eat up a bit of time before you can actually get to where you need to be. Has this been factored into your arrival time?
posted by killy willy at 9:11 AM on February 7, 2015

I've gotten into SJC a bunch of times, and it is a small, easy to navigate airport with no taxi lines to speak of, so you've got that going for you. The Predict-a-trip feature at the traffic.511.org is very helpful giving general driving times, and it says that even during a Monday rush hour, it should only take about 20 minutes. That's the freeway time only. If you have a slight flight delay or there's rain or an accident on the roads, that's pretty much your whole margin right there.
I'd be super stressed trying to make it, personally. Moving back the meeting an hour would give you a much better shot. Just last night there was a big storm and Christopher Lloyd couldn't make it to a big event in his honor.
As far as dress, I'm from the east coast and always find that people dress more stylishly than formally, even at the high levels.
posted by wnissen at 9:49 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind you'll need to get checked in, possibly wait for the person to come get you, get setup for the meeting, etc.

For an important meeting like this, I'd never in a million years give myself 45 minutes from landing to meeting time. 2-3 hours would still be cutting it close. Flights are routinely 30-60 minutes late these days, and that area gets super congested with traffic even outside of rush hour.

If possible I'd fly the night before and have a good sleep in a local hotel.

Your clothing should be stylish and contemporary, but not overly formal. I don't think dark jeans are quite appropriate for this occasion. I think sweater sets would be as out of place as they tend to be a bit fuddy-duddy. You want something stylish and sharp and slightly creative - black pants, cute blouse and a contrasting jacket might work.

But before you work on your outfit, you need to change your travel plans.
posted by barnone at 10:43 AM on February 7, 2015 [10 favorites]

Use this technique for packing without wrinkles.
It's more trouble than it's worth if you have a whole suitcase of clothes, but for your purposes it should work great! It will probably even protect your delicate accessories if you tuck them inside.
posted by rubster at 12:30 PM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nothing you wear can save you from the ugliness of being late.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:56 PM on February 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

45 minutes is really not enough time between the landing of your flight and the beginning of your meeting. Traffic is often very bad, and once you're in Cupertino it will take you time to find the correct building, find the correct entrance, get badged in and so forth. Apple is spread out all over Cupertino, in easily 50-100 buildings, many of which are arranged in complexes where the building you enter/are badged in is not the same as the one your meeting will take place in. And in several of the buildings parking is at a premium -- you may actually need to spend some time looking around for it. In my opinion finding a flight that lands earlier so that you don't start your meeting late, anxious and harried is much, much, much more important than your clothes.

I say that in part because it sounds like your regular clothes are pretty close to what would be appropriate. Jeans/silk blouse/heels/blazer instead of a sweater are what I'd go with in this situation. Stylish is more important than formal. Visitors to Apple often stand out -- in a bad way -- for looking overdressed. Status just isn't expressed by clothes here in the way that it is on the East Coast or non-tech industries, and people in full traditional business-wear end up looking sort of naive.

Even Angela Ahrendts, who literally comes from Burberry and is therefore probably the most clothing-conscious exec at Apple, does a very casual, stylish take on the suit -- even in official press photos:

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3
posted by pocketfullofrye at 1:02 PM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Will you be meeting with Marketing, software people, supply chain folks, hardware, HR, or what? That would make a huge difference to me.
posted by at at 7:49 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

« Older Help me get started studying relationships.   |   because thats what she like Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.