If the shoe fits, check the dress code guide first

There’s a great piece in yesterday’s Sunday Times (paywall I’m afraid) about Swiss bank UBS’s new and extremely comprehensive 43 page dress code guide, which reportedly covers everything from recommendations on heel height and makeup to appropriate underwear and socks.

At first I was muttering darkly about UBS’s well paid professionals presumably being bright enough to make their own clothing choices.  Then it struck me that if someone thought a dress code guide was actually needed (aside from the obvious then-we-can’t-get-sued-for-firing-someone-for-wearing-sexy-clothes angle) then perhaps the UBS staff really did need a sartorial nudge in the right direction.

Then I remembered the new business pitch where a colleague turned up wearing an orange, short, strapless cocktail dress and matching orange patent skyscraper heels, accessorised by copious quantities of cleavage.  The main client decision maker was unfortunately a) female b) a conservative dresser and c) clearly unimpressed.  So I wasn’t all that surprised when we lost the pitch.

Which in turn reminded me of the time a few years back when a board director took me to one side and asked me how I thought the staff would react if they brought in a ‘black and white clothes only’ uniform policy.  I had to tell him that unless he was planning on accompanying this with a one-off £400 minimum wardrobe supplement payment, there would be outright rebellion in the ranks due to all the extra black and white work clothes suddenly required.

pic from here

It’s a minefield.  I was at a pitch last week where the girls wore tasteful, modest shift dresses and the blokes were in suits.  The client however turned up in jeans and a leather jacket.  Perhaps all clients should include a ‘dress code’ section in their pitch briefs?

3 thoughts on “If the shoe fits, check the dress code guide first

  1. Oh for sure. Going to interviews at agencies was bad enough, but I’ve been to clients varying from jeans and a tshirt to full suit and tie!

    I think we need to create a grading scheme. I’ll look at this at lunch…

  2. There’s a great story about when IBM and Apple first started working together in the 90s.

    In an attempt to make the other side feel at home all the Apple staffers turned up in suits, meanwhile the IBM mob had the same idea and turned up in jeans and t-shirts :)

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