“No brown in town”: What Every Young Investment Banker Should Know about Dressing for Success

07. April 2017

While you might nail your interview outfit, you can’t exactly walk to your new investment-banking job wearing a pink tracksuit. Indeed, the banking world is famous for its unwritten dress code and these are the rules every young banker should know – and follow.


Brown shoes don’t belong in investment banking

The worst kept ‘secret’ in the finance industry is that you should never wear brown shoes. Stick to black, avoid square-toed shoes, and keep them polished at all times. Wearing brown could cost you your job.

Change the shirts daily

Banking is a busy and demanding job – you’ll sweat, no other way of saying it. For this reason and because of the creases, you really shouldn’t wear the same shirt two days in a row. If you do find yourself sweating a lot, wear a t-shirt or a vest underneath.

Always wear a long-sleeve shirt

It might be over 30 degrees Celsius out there, but you are wearing a long sleeved shirt to your banking job. Don’t ditch the long-sleeved choice, unless you’d want to be sent home.

Don’t be a show-off

So, you might have rich parents or you’ve struck gold with an investment. But if you are young and just starting out, your seniors don’t want to see flashy outfits and too expensive clothing. Gucci, Hermés and the like are fine, but only once you’ve earned it. As a general rule, don’t out-dress your boss, at least not in your first two months. Other ways to annoy your older colleagues and superior are gel in your hair, a handkerchief, and braces (see below).

Power colours are not for suits

Brown and shiny colours are not the ideal choice for your suit. Khaki is a power colour, but only works at the country club. You’re working in finance, not at a tech startup (these guys have their own dress code). Suits should always be anthracite dark, black, blue or grey. If you want some fun, consider pinstripes.

Knee-length skirt is the only way to go

Your skirt shouldn’t be above the knee or below the calf. The perfect skirt length is in the middle of the knee or two inches below it.

Skip the wild ties

Sure, personality and a bit of colour are fun – just not necessarily in the banking floor. Also, ties with more than three colours are a no. You want people to notice your talent, not the crazy ties. Please make sure you also master the Windsor knot.

Stay clear of braces

Just don’t – braces might seem like a trendy idea, but only the oldest players in banking are allowed to use them.

Skip the black shirts

Black is definitely not back when it comes to shirts in the banking sector. You do not want to show up in a black shirt – not as an analyst or an associate. Keep your shirts traditional with white, blue, and grey offering a solid range of shades.

Remember you’re not on the beach

You’re working and this means you shouldn’t be showing a lot of flesh, whether you’re a man or a woman. Don’t opt for backless numbers, show cleavage, wear shorts or show up without socks. Fall always on the conservative side – you can afford a holiday in the Bahamas and show as much skin on the beach as you’d want.

So, when you land the dream job in finance, keep the above in mind. And if you want to be among those who change the rules by wearing smart casual, then acquaint yourself with the rules before you change them. While your attitude and talent are undeniable keys to surviving in finance and business, dressing for success will also help!