Goodbye bowler hats, brollies and polished black shoes – hello dress-down Fridays, jazzy colours and designer stubble. Dress codes appear to be falling out of fashion in the City of London.
Around two-thirds of financial services employees will be allowed to travel into work in casualwear for dress-down Friday today, the results of a new survey suggest. And standards appear to be slipping during the rest of the week as well.
Just a quarter of financial services workers are expected to wear suits, ties or heels when away from client meetings, according to a survey by salary benchmarking website Emolument.com for City A.M.
Nine per cent of financial services employees quizzed said their employer limits the colours of their suits, shirts or ties, while one per cent said that their sock colouring is regulated.
Formality does vary across different sectors in finance. A majority (56 per cent) of hedge fund, private equity and venture capital employees said they did not have dress down Fridays, while 13 per cent said colour restrictions were in place.
|Does your company have a dress-down Friday?||Yes||No|
|Corporate, investment banking, markets||68%||32%|
|Asset and wealth management||58%||42%|
|Hedge funds, private equity, venture capital||44%||56%|
Barclays was found to be one of the more relaxed financial institutions for dress code, with no trace of colour restrictions in the survey. “I wore pink socks yesterday,” one insider commented.
It is not alone. JP Morgan adopted a business casual policy last year, meaning employees can come to work in polo shirts, sweaters and blouses. Beachwear, flip-flops, shorts and athletic clothing, however, are not permitted.
The City has not always been so relaxed on dress.
When Panmure Gordon’s David Buik turned up for his first day in a pale blue shirt and a dark blue tie 55 years ago he was asked by a manager whether he “generally came to work in my pyjamas and would I go home and put the proper attire on”.
Buik described the change in City dress code over the last 50 years as “unbelievable”, although he said he is not against many of the changes.
“What I don’t like is the designer stubble,” he added. “I just think it’s disrespectful.”
Stockbroker Numis is currently experimenting with a dress down Friday, executive director Lorna Tilbian told City A.M. On entering the City in 1984, things were quite different.
“Literally, when I started, people had bowler hats, brollies and an FT under their arms – that was the uniform,” she said. Now, bowler hats have gone, brollies have been replaced by iPhones and copies of the FT have, no doubt, been replaced by free City A.M. newspapers. “It’s been a pretty dramatic change, actually.”
Michael Hewson of CMC Markets, who started working in the City in 1988, said: “When I started, it was very much suit and tie. Certainly there was a minimum dress code, which you could not fall below. Even if you worked in a back-office role, you still were expected to turn up in a suit and tie if you were a gentleman.”
He added: “The way that you tended to stand out was either by wearing slightly lairy socks or slightly lairy ties.”
Not to worry, though. Certain rules are still in place. Hewson confirms that ripped jeans and T-shirts with offensive slogans remain a no-no at CMC Markets.