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

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Accountancy, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Accountancy

    Accountancy Member

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    May 2, 2011
    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...
     
  2. Iceball

    Iceball Well-Known Member

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    Jan 28, 2009
    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.
     
  3. robinsongreen68

    robinsongreen68 Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  4. Oleg

    Oleg Well-Known Member

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    East Lahndahn, innit
    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. [​IMG] Edit: doubt anyone much will mind pinstripes but I'd leave chalkstripes to the Lincoln's Inn mob
     
  5. xabi.gordon

    xabi.gordon Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    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
     
  6. Merlino

    Merlino Well-Known Member

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    Mar 11, 2006
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    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.
     
  7. jamaican

    jamaican Well-Known Member

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    Dec 24, 2006
    Location:
    London
    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
     
  8. E TF

    E TF Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Herts, U.K.
    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.
     
  9. Loathing

    Loathing Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  10. lenahan

    lenahan Well-Known Member

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    May 7, 2011
    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.
     
  11. Achilles_

    Achilles_ Well-Known Member

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    I had no idea brown shoes were frowned upon so much in the UK [​IMG]
     
  12. tgt465

    tgt465 Well-Known Member

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    I had no idea brown shoes were frowned upon so much in the UK [​IMG]

    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
     
  13. GBR

    GBR Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  14. E TF

    E TF Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  15. Not Ed Harris

    Not Ed Harris Well-Known Member

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    London, 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

    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.
     
  16. theowlandtheelephant

    theowlandtheelephant New Member

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    Jun 13, 2011
    Play it safe to begin with. Stick with the greys, charcoals, navy. There's enough in that spectrum to still play around with at any rate.
     
  17. jamaican

    jamaican Well-Known Member

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    Dec 24, 2006
    Location:
    London
    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.


    I agree with most of this. However, there has been a change over the time. I remember the City. When I was a very young boy (late 1970s/early 1980s) I remember coming here and seeing men in stripy trousers/ strollers. Bowler hats etc. That's gone. A bowler looks odd and costumey even in the City I would say. Lounge suits are the staple. Different varieties. City (not country) colours as said before. When I see someone in a brown (or green) suit around here I assume that they are from the States or continental Europe on business... it's not really native dress in these parts. Brown shoe syou see. You often see black loafers with suits... I would not suggestthat for a new job in accounting though. Shirt colours and tie combinations seem to follow the Jermyn St tradition of "go for it". I would expect that when one is in Court (which may not apply to the OP unles called to give evidence) the more restrained colours are the default position. J
     
  18. Blackhood

    Blackhood Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    An acceptable Banking wardrobe:

    Charcoal suit
    Navy suit
    Midnight Blue Suit
    Mid- Blue (no lighter than Air Force Blue)

    Black oxfords
    Black Brouges
    Black Balmoral boots (For winter. These looks like brouges as the high vamp is covered by the trouser leg.)

    White shirts
    Light Blue Shirts

    Solid Ties
    Rep Ties (Be careful about Alma Mater/ Club ties if you're not actually a member)
    Avoid Novelty Ties at all costs.

    White Handkerchief folded Neatly

    Black belt with Silver buckle

    Watch with bracelet or leather strap - no NATO straps


    You may arrive and find that you have more freedom than this, but this list should put you on firm footing in any Banking environment. Its much better to be thought dull than flamboyant when starting a new job.
     
  19. Accountancy

    Accountancy Member

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    14
    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Thank you all for the feedback! I will ditch the plan for the brown suit and consider something with white a pinstripe instead.

    Blackhood, I actually nearly had a "midnight blue" suit made but I backed off after deciding it seemed too indistinguishable from black. Is a midnight blue that easy to pull off? I have one lawyer friend with a midnight blue suit, and the first time I saw it I mistook it for black.

    As for shirts, most of mine right now are white and light blue. Additionally they are all barrel cuffs, but I have just ordered a few spread-collar french cuff shirts.
     
  20. Loathing

    Loathing Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    London
    I'm sitting in a bank in Mayfair right now (moved from City to Mayfair two weeks ago), I can tell you what people in view are wearing:

    pale blue shirts, double cuffs
    bengal stripe blue, double cuffs
    pink gingham, white collar+double cuffs
    pink bengal stripes, double cuffs

    blue or navy suits
    one charcoal suit

    lots of slip-on shoes in black & brown
    plently of captoe oxfords in black & brown
     

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