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New job in London, what colors of suits to buy?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I plan on taking a new job in London fairly soon (my first time to the UK). It's in the City, a finance/accounting environment and very conservative from what I've been told. I'm currently in Asia and so I am taking advantage of the local suit makers to have a few done before my move.

So far I have made a very dark navy and a medium grey/charcoal. I was considering to additionally make a 1) medium navy, 2) darker charcoal, 3) dark brown with a sharkskin weave.

Does anyone here have experience with what would be proper in this sort of environment? I'm fairly confident with the navy and charcoals, but is the dark brown acceptable? Additionally, I was looking at a charcoal-pinstripe. Are pinstripes at all common in London, or should I stick to solid colors?

Other than suits, I have heard that brown shoes are a no-no there, so I've planned to stick to black oxfords. I don't know if there is anything else...
post #2 of 20
Pin Stripes are very common.
Dark brown should be fine, though less common.

Black shoes are safest but brown is not likely to be an issue unless in the most conservative banks.

NB - If you're working at an accountancy firm, eg PWC I frankly think a lot of this is overkill the last lot of PWC staff I met were not exactly smart.
post #3 of 20
charcoal pinstripes would be fine. not sure about brown sharkskin in a very conservative environment? i'd have said brown shoes would be ok too but maybe stick to black if you're unsure. the above is right though, most guys from these kind of firms wear badly fitting M&S or charles tyrwhitt or something.
post #4 of 20
Given it's a conservative firm, stick to dark grey/charcoal. Very dark blue will probably be fine too. You're right on the black shoe thing too: it may be that, when you get there, nobody much cares about lighter grey or brown shoes but I'd opt for caution in the first instance: you can always stock up when you're here. It may seem very conservative, but in my experience you can get away with more colour in shirts and ties than seems to be acceptable in the US (going by the posters on here, at least). That said, in my former employment in a particularly staid part of the civil service, a colleague was apparently chastised by his immediate superior for wearing a pale blue rather than white shirt. Edit: doubt anyone much will mind pinstripes but I'd leave chalkstripes to the Lincoln's Inn mob
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Accountancy View Post
I plan on taking a new job in London fairly soon (my first time to the UK). It's in the City, a finance/accounting environment and very conservative from what I've been told. I'm currently in Asia and so I am taking advantage of the local suit makers to have a few done before my move.

So far I have made a very dark navy and a medium grey/charcoal. I was considering to additionally make a 1) medium navy, 2) darker charcoal, 3) dark brown with a sharkskin weave.

Does anyone here have experience with what would be proper in this sort of environment? I'm fairly confident with the navy and charcoals, but is the dark brown acceptable? Additionally, I was looking at a charcoal-pinstripe. Are pinstripes at all common in London, or should I stick to solid colors?

Other than suits, I have heard that brown shoes are a no-no there, so I've planned to stick to black oxfords. I don't know if there is anything else...

A dark charcoal with black oxford shoes will do look great
post #6 of 20
If it's a very conservative environment, I wouldn't do the brown suit. I've worked in the City as well but for the London branch of a Dutch bank so much less conservative and even there nobody would wear brown, not as a suit nor as shoes. Dark and navy blue and most if not all shades of gray are fine.
post #7 of 20
Grey and navy blue suits will work well. I would ditch the brown. I work in a conservative law firm in the City of London. Pinstripes (in a white pin) are common. You also see pin stripes with a blue stipe and sometimes dark red. White stripe is safest and, for a new job in accounting, safest. A brown suit would be "unusual" around here. I don't think it would cause you to be hated or ostracised, but it would not be "best practice".

As regards shoes, black Oxfords are preferred and, if the last shape is relatively sober, will be uncontraversial. Brown shoes pass in some parts of the City, but not the most conservative. J
post #8 of 20
Yes avoid the brown suit I'd say. I was speaking to a senior city chap recently; he described mid navy as a "power colour." I know what he means - just slightly more noticeable than everyone else in the room in dark navy and (predominantly) charcoal. So a good colour to have as long as you use it wisely - maybe not on your first day for instance, lest you send the wrong message to your new colleagues, but when you're angling for a promotion in a few months' time...
Incidentally the senior city chap in question would never wear brown shoes in town. I do, but then I'm a country bumpkin.
post #9 of 20
I agree with what most others have said. However, I would say dark brown shoes will go completely unnoticed, indeed I wear them all the time because I get bored of my black captoes.
post #10 of 20
historically speaking, Brown shoes and Brown suits were not worn in the Square Mile. Charcoal, Navy, and White pinstripes on Black or Charcoal is totally acceptable. Black is to be avoided, except for funerals. I doubt, nowadays, that the rules are as stringent as they once where. After all, on my last trip there I saw individuals in Black suits. I would avoid Brown Shoes and Suits, but that is largely because, at least to me, the colour is to "country" for work in finance, which is very "city.
post #11 of 20
I had no idea brown shoes were frowned upon so much in the UK
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles_ View Post
I had no idea brown shoes were frowned upon so much in the UK

Fashion-wise London seems a different beast than the rest of the country, especially the financial workers. See also: http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=28656
post #13 of 20
Forget the brown unless you have a senior appointment where the less common/eccentric will be ignored/excused. Otherwise you are fine: London is no different from any other financial centre and dark colours/pin stripes rule almost universally. If you want some variety you can certainly vary the linings, bright colours are fine and coloured ties and shirts are OK in many circumstances although white shirts will be required some times. Much will depend upon who you might meet in the course of your duties.


Brown shoes are OK on Fridays but not terribly common even now. I would not throw them away but don't buy many.
post #14 of 20
That article is spot-on about the City. White shirts are a no-no (I remember as a lad my mother telling me I should only ever wear a white shirt to a funeral); and I know of someone who was asked by his boss if he'd come to fix the lift when he turned up to work one day wearing a shirt with a breast pocket (never mind that he was otherwise properly besuited). The City of London (big C), by the way, specifically refers to the financial centre of London, an area of roughly a square mile (another of its names), at the eastern side of the centre of the city of London (small c). Brown shoes et al are fine in the rest of the city and the country. Whenever I have reason to visit the City (big C), I generally make sure to wear a more casual, country, suit, in flannel say, or even an odd jacket, and brown shoes. Just so that they know I'm not one of them.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tgt465 View Post
Fashion-wise London seems a different beast than the rest of the country, especially the financial workers. See also: http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=28656

London in general you can be as fashionable as you like, but working in the City things are pretty much as they've always been. People have pretty much said this before, but I'll reinforce this:
1. No brown suits
2. No brown shoes (at least to start with)
3. No chalk stripe, generally keep any stripe subtle to start with
3. White shirts are fine, I've seen plenty bankers/lawyers/accountants etc

This is mostly from working in Law though.
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