The casual dress myth

Tomorrow's Business

Eight years ago a chastened UBS decided to revise a 44-page dress code that had been widely mocked.

The code told women how to apply make-up and what colour underwear was necessary. Men were advised to wear a red-tie and told how it should be knotted.

UBS realised it needed to chill. A bit.

Yesterday Goldman Sachs relaxed its smart dress code, a move by new chief executive David Solomon, who also DJs under the stage name D-Sol, to appeal to bright young talent.

These things come and go. If Brexit is really messy and clients are really worried, expect the bank to quietly re-introduce smart dress. No one wants to lose business over a pair of flip-flops.

On Fleet Street City desks it used to be the policy that you should dress as if you might be suddenly called to interview the Governor of the Bank of England. I’d say that’s been relaxed somewhat, but there’s no denying that the most senior hacks are the ones who dress most like bankers.

If I meet a chief executive and am dressed casually, it’s the first thing she notices. I’m one-nil down before I’ve opened my mouth.

Hacks are allowed to look scruffier than flaks. That said, it’s still probably best if we haven’t got egg on our shirt.

In flak-land, no one remotely serious dresses casually. I think that’s unlikely to change.

Sorry, millennials.

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