The clothes you should never wear to an investment bank, no matter the weather

Efforts by financial firms to define dress codes for employees have a tendency to fall flat. After jokes about Nomura’s landmark effort to ban ‘gay colored nail polish’ and skirts with a ‘deep slit’ a decade ago and UBS’s famous 40-page dress code that included injunctions to ‘ underwear and tights’, the new thing is to let the employees decide on the sartorial parameters. – When Goldman Sachs changed its dress code three years ago, CEO David Solomon told staff to use “good judgment” in their clothing choices. Similarly, when KKR loosened its dress code at the same time, it said employees were trusted “to strike the right balance and exercise good judgment” in their clothing choices.

But good judgment can be subjective. There are some things that should never be worn, whether they are considered good or not.

1. Short-sleeved shirts

When it’s hot and summery, you might think you can get away with showing a little arm. You can not. The head of graduate recruitment at an international firm told us that interns have been reprimanded for wearing short-sleeved shirts. Meanwhile Nomura. has been known in the past to send women home when they arrive in sleeveless dresses.

Long-sleeved shirts are the norm, even when it’s 39 degrees C.

2. Hawaiian shirt

Interns have been known to wear Hawaiian shirts. Also: Short Sleeve Hawaiian Shirts.

3. Tailored shorts

Young men and women have also appeared in tailored shorts. This is not right. “You think they are wearing pants and then they stand up”, is the decision.

4. Combinations that reveal flesh

It’s all about the skin: if you reveal too much of it, you’re breaking the unspoken rule. “You can show your arm, but we don’t want to see any more flesh,” says the recruiter. “Or you can show your leg. But we don’t want to see too many arms and legs.”

5. Open-toed shoes

Barclays banned slippers and open-toed shoes six years ago. UBS’s historic dress code also prohibited them.

6. Skirts above the knee

See point four.

7. Ends below the calf

In the invariable words of UBS, ‘The perfect hem length is mid-knee and can fall up to two inches below the knee (measured from the middle of the knee).’

8. Old T-shirts

An executive coach and former head of pan-European equity sales at Citigroup, says some people in finance had a historical tendency to wear old T-shirts. “Wear things that are consistent with how you want to be perceived,” she says. “See the people you want to be like and wear what they’re wearing.” Are they wearing old T-shirts?

9. Visible vests

The vests mentioned here are not Patagonia, but a thermal base layer. UBS is an advocate of wearing a vest in winter. “For aesthetic and hygienic reasons, as well as for well-being issues, we recommend you wear a vest,” they say. We say you should keep this vest discreetly hidden under your other clothes.

10. Purple, blue or red suits

You are not John Travola. Interns sometimes wear blue and green suits, but rarely for long.

11. Dresses made of diaphanous material

Tracksuits are a no-no, says the graduate recruiter.

12. Backless things

A back is a large space of skin. “I’ve had to lend my cardigan to a few girls,” the graduate recruiter tells us.

13. Dry shoes

It’s not just the ‘gay colored nail polish’ ban at Nomura, banks in general don’t like colour. This also applies to shoes. Historically, coffee has been intractable in finance. UBS suggests that all shoes should be black.

14. School rugby socks

Another graduate recruiter says the age of the old school tie has been replaced by the age of the old school rugby sock. In London. Candidates from prestigious schools such as Eton and Harrow have attended interviews wearing their school sports socks under their suits, she says.

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