What exactly should you wear to work?

In a simpler time, employers would issue strict dress codes, banning certain colours, garments and even some hairstyles. However, in today’s ever-changing world, the official dress code has taken a back seat and left people wondering exactly what they should be wearing to work.

For years the finance industry has been slowly, but surely shifting to more and more informal work wear. It’s not quite at the “ripped jeans and beanie” internet start-up stage, but it’s heading in that direction. One of the biggest shifts in dress codes came from a JP Morgan Chase & Co. memo in mid-2016 that expanded business casual dress “firm wide.” It might not have been a massive change, but it signalled the start of a trend.

It doesn’t stop there though, as they aren’t the only big player to have relaxed its dress code, with a leading US investment bank recently introducing a “year-round” casual dress code for its technology and engineering divisions in an attempt to compete with the more modern, millennial heavy tech companies. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your views), they have not extended this new dress code to other divisions, although it is still considered one of the more casual banks, with only 21% of interns saying they wore suits every day.

Not everyone is bowing to peer pressure though, the French banks such as BNP Paribas and Société Générale are still very formal, with the former recently being voted the best dressed bank in the city. Tailored suits are also much more common than the other banks, whose employees typically buy off the rack.

This is all well and good, but it doesn’t really help when you’re unsure of what to wear, so here’s the rundown:

  • Business casual means chinos and a dress shirt, not jeans and a hoodie
  • Stick to dark coloured suits/skirts and plain shirts/tops – that cream linen suit you bought in the Dominican Republic is going to have to stay in your wardrobe
  • Finally, if you’re going into a meeting with a client, please put on a tie

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