El Hombre Mas Guapo: Hector Diaz
This week’s Fibonacci Sequins star is very special to us because Dona hired Hector Diaz way back in the day for his first internship at Microsoft during an event in Mexico City. Since then, she has loved watching that brilliant young student bloom into a successful software engineer, and also become a cornerstone in the men’s fashion scene as a star fashion blogger and collaborator! Read on to see how Hector’s transformation happened and what’s next!
Tell us a little about you.
Hi! My name is Hector Diaz and I’m a fashion-obsessed, cat-loving, tech-enthusiast (us too, Hector, us too–kindred spirits!) from Monterrey, Mexico. I’ve been living in Seattle for the past 4 and a half years where I’m a software engineer at Microsoft and a fashion blogger for life. I work in the Universal Windows App platform team, where my team and I build the APIs, tools, and frameworks that are needed to create Windows 10 apps that can run in every device and every screen size possible.
During my college years at ITESM (Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education) I did two internships at Microsoft – 2008 in the Windows Live Safety Platform team, and 2010 in the Application Experience team for Windows. In between those two amazing summer experiences, I studied in Germany for 6 months at Technische Universität Dresden (I speak German and French as well as English and Spanish). After my second internship I was offered a full-time job opportunity at Microsoft, and I moved from Mexico in spring 2011.
Living in Seattle has been amazing. It was here that I discovered my passion for snowboarding, since let’s face it, there’s not a lot of places where you can do that in Mexico. I’ve been practicing every winter since I moved here, and I have a group of friends (mostly everyone from Mexico!) with the same interest in winter sports that has brought us closer together. We even have an alias now for Snowboarders at Microsoft, and during the winter months we go snowboarding every weekend and sometimes even during the week (after work of course).
Some of my other interests are concerts and film, which are also a big deal here in the Pacific Northwest. Almost every band that I know and like will stop by Seattle when touring, and whether it’s a full stadium with 70k people, an arena or theater, or an underground venue at a small bar or pub, listening to live music and enjoying it with other people makes me really happy. For film we have the Seattle International Film Festival, which has one of the largest offerings of domestic and international films ranging from documentaries, to comedies, dramas, action movies, and animated film. I like attending that festival with my friends and talking about the movies after we see them, and I’m thinking about becoming a volunteer next year so I’m really excited.
Tell us about what you’re wearing.
Here you can see me wearing two outfits which are perfect for fall.
This first one is a very casual, almost professor-like look of sports jacket (similar here and here), shirt (similar here and here) corduroy pants (similar here and here), and tie (similar here) – sports coats are coming in really strong this season. This one I got from Club Monaco, which is one of my favorite shops. The shirt I’m wearing is also from Club Monaco, and it has a flower print on it. I love wearing prints and playing around with color and patterns. This one in particular really caught my eye because it has beautiful colors, and the pattern almost creates a sense of movement. The corduroy pants are made of one of the warmest, most versatile fabrics you are going to find; it works well in every season except summer, is extremely comfortable, and it can look very formal or very casual depending on what you pair it with.
To complement this look, I added an extra accessory, this embroidered bracelet from Club Monaco as well, and my favorite pair of brown shoes from Aldo (similar here and here). Notice how the belt matches the same color as the shoes – if there are any rules in menswear, this is one of the most important.
My second outfit is way more sporty but still cool and really comfortable. I’m wearing a navy-crew, long-sleeve shirt from J. Crew (similar here and here) with a pair of joggers from Topman (similar here and here). Joggers are really strong this fall season, since they are a bit warmer than jeans or regular pants and still look amazing with just a t-shirt or a long-sleeve v-neck. They’re pretty handy as well in any season but summer, so the versatility is again a great point here. As you can see, I love clothes that can be used on different outfits and different seasons, where just the styling creates a whole new different look.
I’m also wearing a last-season olive green jacket from H&M (similar here and here) which has come in handy in the PNW. I was trying to go for a more outdoorsy, Northwest look with this ensemble. As an accessory, I’m wearing a navy-crew bracelet (similar here and here) which matches the shirt. I like adding these smaller details to most of my outfits. The Creative Recreation shoes (similar here and here) complete the look, which are really comfy and look amazing with the joggers. This is a company from California and I love their sense of style without losing the comfort of the shoes.
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
I wasn’t that into fashion at the beginning of my college years. I had always liked shopping though, and some of the dearest memories that I have from when I lived back in Mexico are from my mom, sister, and I going to the mall together. It was an amazing experience and we always had so much fun while doing it together; sometimes spending more than half a day on a single store just fitting into everything we liked and showing how it looked to one another. However, my style was really simple – a t-shirts with jeans kind of guy.
When I came to Seattle for my second internship I visited New York with my sister, and I learned that there was a whole world outside of Aeropostale and American Eagle. I was fascinated by people wearing designer clothes, lots of accessories, and beautiful shoes. When I started working for a company in Mexico (where people really dress up for work) I took a trip to Zara and got a bunch of dress shirts and dress pants for every day wear. It was my first time buying something a bit more upscale for the daily routine, and I learned a lot about fit, design (Zara is from Europe so their aesthetic is quite different from the American aesthetic), and fashion.
When moved here full-time I found a group of friends who are also into shopping and fashion. So now, instead of going with my mom and my sister, I go with this group of friends who have lived here a bit longer than me. They introduced me to a whole different range of shops, such as Club Monaco, J. Crew, Topman, All Saints; all of the shops that I like a lot today.
How would you describe your style?
If I could describe my style in 2 words it would be casual and comfortable. I always like my outfits to have an ease to them, a this-is-just-something-I-threw-on-me vibe but without leaving aside the detail and the thought that went behind it. And I like them to be comfortable, because let’s face it, in an world where we are running up and down every day in a variety of environments and situations, you don’t want your clothes to be a hindrance to what you can achieve, and you also don’t want to look out of place or out of yourself because of something that’s too difficult to walk in, or too bulky, or too warm. The more comfortable you are the easiest it will be to portray yourself with confidence, and people will notice this when they see you.
Some recurrences in my style are my incline towards patterns and color; I’m never afraid to wear or even mix different patterns as long as there’s a line of cohesion for the whole outfit. I’m also not afraid to put a pop of color in it (I always try to do this through my socks or accessories). I’m also a firm believer of the “less is more” mentality – I like to be light on accessories, but make them part of the main theme of the outfit rather than just dangling pieces around me is one of my main objectives. I do the same whenever I splurge on something (as opposed to my favorite middle-tier stores) – I try to make it the centerpiece of the outfit by not combining it with other expensive clothes or designer pieces. I do love designer clothes (I have a beautiful, emerald green Carolina Herrera sweater) but I like to keep that balance.
All and all, my main goal is to let my inner voice be heard through the way that I dress. It’s just another mean we have of communicating our point of view to other people, and it’s become my life motto, to let my voice be heard.
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
My advice to anyone thinking about getting into any field whatsoever is to just follow your passion and don’t let other things get in your way. Especially in STEM there seems to be a popularity around it at the moment because let’s face it, we’ve transitioned from a point when technology was a just a tool to us, a mean to achieve something in an easier way, to a real life-shaping, people-touching discipline. Nowadays technology is defining how we interact with each other; it’s connecting the world as never before, and it’s giving form to the way we create and foster human relationships.
Technology is enhancing people to become a better version of themselves, and it’s increasing our access to knowledge and as a consequence our productivity. That’s why yes, there is a lot of money involved right now in the technology field, but this should never be the reason for choosing your life-career (and neither should your parents, friends, or mentors telling you to).
I’m not gonna lie, it’s an amazing area and you’ll be fascinated by the awesome things you will develop during your college years. But you also need to have a lot of patience, know how to learn by yourself, because in technology you need to continue learning, otherwise your knowledge becomes obsolete in a few years; it’s a very fast-paced industry. And you need to have the attitude more than the aptitude. Just being good at math doesn’t mean you’re going to be great in engineering (although it does help a lot) but you need to be passionate about the field you like, learn about it from magazines and newspaper articles, be aware of what’s the “hot topic” and learn about it before it becomes something that everyone knows about.
Technology revolves around ideas and innovation, and that’s why you always need to be a step ahead of the norm. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box, the best ideas most often come from challenging the status quo; you should never be scared of defying gravity.
What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
I’ve done many things that I feel really proud about at work. Both of my internship projects, for instance, were really cool, and I also like a lot what I have done in 4 years at Microsoft.
However, the project I’m most proud of, because it came straight out of my interests and has brought me many friendships and good connections is starting my own fashion blog. I’ve always been a fan of writing (and reading) and so for the past years I’ve been looking for a topic to blog about just to have a platform to express myself verbally. I haven’t always been a fashion fan, but as I’ve matured I’ve learned that fashion really matters to people – you can be having a very bad day and the moment you see someone wearing something you like it sparks a good feeling inside you/helps initiate conversation.
During the summer of last year, I met Kim Nguyen as a fellow Intern Social Coordinator at Microsoft and I was instantly moved by her style. She always wears super colorful, girly, pretty outfits and I love how bold she is when doing it: she’s never afraid to take risks and she always looks like she’s wearing the clothes, not the other way around. When we became Facebook friends, I saw that she had a fashion blog and that she shot pictures of her daily outfits, and then wrote a few paragraphs about the clothes themselves, about her experiences during that day, and sometimes even some serious talk, where she shared some of her very inspiring stories.
I was inspired by my friend’s amazing blog, and as I paid attention to fashion bloggers I started to notice the lack of attention to menswear. So having identified a topic I loved and a niche that needed filling, I decided to start my own blog in a very similar fashion to Kim’s: story-like writing of my every day outfits, with the occasional twist (traveling, lifestyle, fashion itself). I was delighted to see the positive reception my blog had on its first day after sharing it on social media – friends back in Mexico, friends in Seattle, friends that I have met through my internships and exchange program study in Germany, everyone seemed to be really pleased and engaged with my blog (writing comments, subscribing, liking on facebook).
Little by little my blog audience started growing and growing, eventually expanding across cities, countries, even continents. Nowadays I have over 5000 followers all around the world, and what started as a small platform to share with my friends, has become a total life changer. I’ve done collaborations with smaller brands such as Jeremiah Clothing and more well-known brands like Express. I’ve also been invited to a lot of fashion events in Seattle, one of them at J. Crew this past month to take a fresh look into the fall-winter collection. But most importantly, blogging has brought me amazing friends and connections not only over the Internet, but in Seattle as well. I have met a lot of fashion bloggers at Microsoft even, which by the way, just proves the point that being fashionable and geeky is completely possible, and fashion and tech actually get along pretty well. I’m super excited about having met all this people, and I’m super happy about how my blog has brought me closer together to friends both here and at home.
Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?
One of the most bothering to me is people saying that tech isn’t fashionable. Right at this moment, there are tech companies and fashion designer and brands collaborating on the most amazing, stylish gadgets you could imagine. Wearable technology is becoming super popular, and it’s a good example of how fashion and tech can come together to shape the world.
Another common misconception I feel people have is that tech isolates you from people and real human connection. I agree that it’s not the same to talk with someone in person rather than messaging or chatting through Skype. However, these experiences are becoming more and more personal (like for instance, technology now allows you to speak in your natural language to a person that speaks another language) and now you can communicate with someone on the other side of the world and look at their faces while they are talking to you and see their reactions when you give them good news.
Finally, some people think that the tech world doesn’t favor diversity. From personal experience I can say that the more diverse your team is the most inventive, innovative, and inclusive it will be when designing products. That is really important, because if there’s something I have learned at work it is that most of the users do not look like you, feel like you, or think like you, so you have to put yourself in their shoes when making decisions. It’s a really logical concept, but it requires a lot of empathy and the best way to have this is by being surrounded by people that are not like you in your everyday life, and embracing the things that make you and everyone around you unique.
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?
Be yourself. Be confident. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Follow your passions. Have dreams. Make mistakes. Fix your mistakes. Don’t keep regrets. Seize life by the moment. Be nice to people. Give your best every time. Love your family and friends. Keep in touch with good people. Be curious. Never stop learning. Love yourself.
Thank you for reading my story today and I hope you all have a very fashionable, happy life!
And for once, we are rendered speechless. Thank you lovely, darling, brilliant Hector for spending the day with us and letting us have a sneak peek into your glamourous world!
Dona & Beth