Bankers Shown How to Dress Down

Wall Street, business casual, banking dress code, Saks, how to manual

(Picture: Shutterstock)

Newly-loosened dress codes at Wall Street banks have left bankers guessing about what exactly business casual means in finance, formerly dominated by pinstripes, cufflinks, and monogrammed shirts.

U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan recently loosened its dress code for nearly all bankers, institutionalizing a policy that is already largely in place. Asset manager Blackrock, which has practiced business casual since the 1990s, has told employees that jeans and short sleeves are acceptable.

Female bankers have more room to maneuver on work attire, and thus to err, so casual dress leaves them guessing, as wrote at the time. Apparently, men also need help navigating the new guidelines.

Off with the Uniform

Saks Fifth Avenue began working on a dress manual shortly after the J.P. Morgan dress code surfaced.

Next week, the prominent U.S. retailer will begin handing out «The New Office Casual,» a guide to dressing casual in business, according to «The Wall Street Journal».

Dresscode 500

The idea is that previously, male bankers simply had to don the «uniform» of suit, white shirt and tie to feel appropriately dressed.

Business-casual requires a lot more work – and more shopping, Saks is hoping.

Millenials and Tech

A more casual dress style for banking is partly driven by appealing to millennial employees, who typically prefer to dress more casually than older peers in the workplace. 

It also comes against the backdrop of fundamental changes in banking, as technology and fintech startups compete to take a bite out of traditional financial services. 

For banks, the loosening of codes mirrors a willingness to embrace the technology sector, where casual dressing is practically an art form.


Saks' guidelines mix dressier essentials with casual options – even sweatpants are acceptable under certain circumstances. 

They include a «Refined Top» such as a turtleneck or polo short, «Perfect Fit Pant» such as chinos, sweatpants or cargo pants, provided they are slim-fitted styles, a «Clean Sneaker» and an «Easy Layer».

Pricier than Suits

Saks’s guide compiles business casual looks so that harried male bankers can buy a ready-made outfit instead of agonizing over how to put one together themselves.

Ironically, bankers will spend just as much – if not more – on decking themselves out in business-casual wear as they will on suits and ties.

A Balmain wool turtleneck listed in the «New Office Casual» sells for 1168.36 Swiss francs on Saks' website, a pair of Italian designer loafers for 937.83 francs.


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