Gone are the days of the standard suit and tie dress codes. Finance teams once routinely ironed button-up shirts and wore stiff fabrics every day. But now, that’s changed. What we used to know as casual Friday attire has been taken to a new level in many workplaces.
Finance office dress codes can be confusing. Sometimes they consist of unwritten rules that new employees are expected to understand intrinsically upon starting their new job. But because finance teams work under a myriad of industry types, dress codes tend to vary.
To keep our readers in the know, we’ve designed this dress code guide for those in the finance industry. It’s based on two types of workplaces: startups versus corporate financial firms.
Finance Dress Codes at Startups
According to Business Insider, “Startups aren’t just different in the ways they run their businesses. Take employee dress codes: They’re hardly what you’ll find at investment banks, law firms, or really, any other office job” (1).
Be realistic about your startup’s work attire expectations and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Startups generally boast an entrepreneurial spirit that encourages freedom and creativity. You’ll find some offices that don’t mind if you show up in shorts as long as you’re getting your work done on time and doing a great job. This isn’t to say the startup dress code is foolproof. There are some types of clothing you should always stay away from. Dark wash jeans are generally acceptable, but you should never show up in work-out gear.
While casual clothing is likely accepted most days, it’s important to dress your best for meetings with your startup’s VIPs. If you want to be taken seriously, pay more attention to your clothing. Think along the mindset of the investors or high-paying clients that your boss needs you to impress.
If you resort to the Internet for extra advice, remember to filter your search results to ensure the information you receive is current. Workplace dress codes have changed a lot since 2011.
Great Startup Dress Code Items:
- Fun, patterned socks
- Dark-washed jeans with a slim fit/straight leg
- Basic T-shirts for low-key days (you can tuck them in for a nicer look)
- A sport or suit jacket to dress your outfit up
- A suitable watch, leather or otherwise
- Neutral colours for a classy but casual look
- Women can wear a long, slim jackets or kimonos to upgrade their outfit
Finance Dress Codes at Corporate Firms
One might think that corporate finance offices continue to follow rigid dress codes. However, don’t assume that this is the case.
Take Goldman Sachs as an example. According to Fully Vested, the financial firm “…recently opened a new office in San Francisco and is fully embracing the Bay Area’s notoriously casual approach to dress code” (2). According to the Financial Post, “The change comes three years after the country’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, adopted its own firmwide flexible dress policy” (3).
This indicates “That the dress code is symbolic of a deeper cultural transformation at financial firms, which are trying to project themselves as innovation hubs where individuality and autonomy is emphasized” (3).
While this means you’re often not required to stick with business suits 24/7, do try to keep up a sleek look if you work in the corporate world.
Great Corporate Finance Dress Code Items
- Trouser suits, regular suits
- Dark wash jeans match with button up shirt or blouse
- T-shirts in neutral tones
- Leather watch, accessories to add a special touch
- Heels or flats
- Keep a blazer at work on hand for meetings
- Presentable shoes, no scuff marks
- A suit for highly important meetings
The Interview Outfit
Whether you’re interviewing for a financial corporate or a startup job, don’t overthink your interview outfit. When in doubt, remember that overdressing rather than underdressing is ideal if you’re looking to impress.
Men can wear a “crisp, pressed, classic business look…beginning with a two-piece suit in navy, grey or pinstripe.” (4). However, they could also wear a suit jacket with dark-wash jeans if the environment is right.
While women can opt for the classic business suit, “tailored blouses and skirts are also acceptable choices” (4). Pairing some slim black jeans with a nice top and blazer can also do the trick.
Dress codes have dramatically changed during the last few years. While some companies and businesses are perfectly happy with their casual Fridays, others look at workplace attire as a right to their freedom of expression.
The finance industry is bending and even breaking conventional boundaries. Corporate finance firms and startups aren’t solely focusing on policy-making anymore, but on their employees, too. Study your workplace to identify wardrobe expectations and, whatever you do, plan ahead for your next big interview.