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Investment bankers clothing

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by dhinggok, Oct 20, 2004.

  1. dhinggok

    dhinggok Senior member

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    Hey-
    I am starting a job with an investment bank pretty soon and I was wondering what kind of attire would be appropriate. Well, not so much the actual attire, the company I am working for has a strict policy, but instead, could you guys give me some names of designers or tailors I should go to? I live in New York and luckily, money is not of any concern. I have to wear a suit and tie every day by the way. I was thinking Brioni MTM or possibly Fiorovanti.
     
  2. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    If money is of no concern, I would go with Brioni, or go bespoke. When I was working in I-banking I wore some Burberry and Armani but I would probably go with Brioni, Borrelli or the link now.
     
  3. Catch-22

    Catch-22 Active Member

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    As a current investment banker (albeit in San Francisco w/ a more casual dress code) let me attest to the fact that your choice in designer should really depend on your position within the organization. I've spend a fair amount of time interacting with New York bankers and know first hand that while looking respectable is of the utmost importance, outdressing your bosses or senior bankers won't help your cause any.

    You will be looked upon as a total jackass if you're an analyst/associate wearing brioni (or for that matter kiton or a bespoke suit with working button holes...) no matter how much money you have. Junior bankers should stick with respectable, conservative, but not over the top designers - think Zegna or Hickey Freeman - while avoiding flashier labels like Armani, Prada...

    If you're a VP or above, ignore the above comment and go with Brioni, Kiton, Oxxford, or if you're a bit younger perhaps Borrelli

    Dress code also varies significantly by bank. At some of the more conservative shops (think Lazard) you probably want to stick with dark/navy/charcoal suits at a junior level, while at less strict banks (CSFB, Lehman...) the business formal dress code really just means a jacket of some sort...not necessarily a suit...

    Let me know if you have more questions
     
  4. discostu004

    discostu004 Senior member Affiliate Vendor

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    granted, i've never held a job that required a suit, but i must respectfully disagree. where is it written that b/c you aren't in a position of authority you should "stoop" to a hickey freeman when your budget (assumption) and taste say borrelli? i always say dress how you want to be taken, not how you THINK you will be taken. just my opinion
     
  5. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    I disagree with your disagreement. There is reason to be cautious about dressing too expensively in some lines of work. At my law firm, I have heard partners complain that associates are overpaid whiners who don't work enough hours, and drive nicer cars than the partners. Do you want to show up for meetings with those partners wearing clothing that clearly costs more than theirs? Dressing nicely is always acceptable, but dressing with excessive "bling" can have a detrimental effect on your image in the organization. There's a Japanese proverb that says "the nail that sticks out gets pounded down." It isn't just applicable in Japan. [​IMG]
     
  6. gregory

    gregory Senior member

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    I work in a backoffice department of an investment bank in New York. My boss wears faded polo-shirts and khakis. His boss wears shirts the shoulder seams of which fall 3-4" off his shoulders and in such attractive colors as lime green.

    My everyday outfit consists of a Jantzen shirt with wool (navy/grey) slacks, Banana Republic faux crocodile dark chocolate belt or Zegna black dress belt with the ocassional merino/cashmere solid-colored sweater over my shirt, and Bostonian dark brown lace-up shoe or (soon) Ferragamo Black Loafer with silver-colored bit.

    Should I be cautious? Would they not mind the fact that I am dressing better if they do not care about clothing in general (as evidenced by the fact that they don't dress well)? Will they understand since I am at least 10 years younger than them? The other people in my team are all VPs.

    Addenum: We meet our firm's own bankers every week, and I don't know how they (the bankers and my boss and his boss) feel about this.
     
  7. j

    j Senior member Admin

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    Gregory, your relatively better dress is what I would consider normal if casual for white collar business. The only thing that should go noticed is that your colleagues or bosses dress hideously. I don't think you have anything to worry about with such conservative choices.

    The issue is less whether you are wearing too nice of clothes, and more whether you appear to be deliberately and flagrantly outdressing your superiors.

    I recommend the book "48 Laws of Power" for many anecdotes from royal court that are perfect analogues to this modern situation.
     
  8. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    It would seem logical to me that the senior managers of your firm would have the funds to purchase such high-end labels as Brioni, Kiton, Oxxford, etc. Therefore, if they are not wearing clothing of that level they probably do not care and could not tell the difference between what they wear and a Brioni. Another explanation is that they could have kids in college [​IMG]. If they have they can't tell the difference between what they're wearing and a Brioni, they're obviously not going to be able to look unfavorably upon you. I suggest wearing what you're comfortable with and will make you feel confident. For me, that would be Brioni MTM (if only I had the resources; only 1 more year of undergrad, 4 years of medical school, 6 years of residency, and 2 years of fellowship).
     
  9. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    I would agree with the people who have mentioned that if they aren't wearing Brioni and aren't especially interested in clothing (and you are going with a basic, like a charcoal or navy suit) it's likely that they have no idea how expensive (or not) your suits are.

    While working in IB and for mutual fund companies, I have never had a superior (or anyone) for the most part, comment about my suits. Granted, I was wearing Armani, Boss, Burberry, etc... so perhaps I just fit in.
     
  10. gregory

    gregory Senior member

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    Sorry that i temporarily hijacked the thread. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses (and encouragement to continue enjoying my clothes everyday at work.)
     
  11. JDMcDaniel

    JDMcDaniel Well-Known Member

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    I see the moral of this thread as follows:

    Don't wear extremely high end clothing to get ahead. Wear it only if you truly enjoy being decked out in a great fitting Brioni.

    The posters above that over-dressing can hurt you in the eyes of some. You are right that it can also help you with others. Everyone else is right that for many it won't cut one way or the other.

    Wear what you want and do great work -- that will far outstrip your clothing in the eyes of your superiors.
     
  12. rsp1

    rsp1 Senior member

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    I work for a "bulge bracket" IB in New York (please note I point this out to show relevance, not bravado), so let me add some color to the conversation.

    It would be easier if you gave your position, but here's my opinion:

    Analyst/Associate: Presuming business casual: nice grey and navy slacks. Feel free to wear any brand you want, as no one can tell anyway if you're not wearing a suit. Regarding shirts, depends on the firm, but you actually have a lot of flexibility. Again, feel free to wear any brand you want, as no one can tell the difference (just avoid "aggressive" patterns/colors - no club attire please). Contrary to the sartorial tastes of many on this forum, french cuff shirts with silk knots (or real links) are completely appropriate with slacks alone, and are in fact common.

    If you're business formal, the key is again conservative PATTERNS/COLORS moreso than anything else. If you want to get MTM/bepoke/whatever, go for it. The key is not to stand out in a bad way. 90% of bankers will not know a plain navy brioni from a brooks. The 10% who do recognize it share a common interest with you and you can bond over your taste (this has happened to me when I was an analyst and again recently, as an associate -- we ended up discussing tailoring choices). Small touches like working buttons apply similarly - only those interested in fine attire will notice them when they see him. One thing to avoid is lapel pick-stitching and ticket pockets as they're somewhat obvious and too much for a junior banker.

    Again, to reiterate, the cut, brand, etc do not matter so long as you choose an appropriate pattern and color (navy, charcoal, navy/charcoal pinstripe are about it).

    If you're a VP/Director/Managing Director (or in Europe): None of the above applies, do whatever the heck you want.
     
  13. kidkim2

    kidkim2 Senior member

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    I hope I don't come across as old and crotchety. (Honest. Only one of the adjectives applies.)

    But doesn't anybody agree that the best clothes are less (italics.) obtrusive? It has always seemed to me that an Oxxford suiit that fits like a glove conveys nothing so much as unaffected insouciance, respectful both of oneself and of others. It's the guy in the ill-fitting, unsuitable attire that sticks out. All IMHO.
     
  14. mcarthur

    mcarthur Senior member

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    As the older gentlemen in the corner office what is most important is what is between your ears and what comes from your mouth. If your clothing style is out of order we would send you to our personnel shopper at Barneys.
     
  15. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    I would, respectfully, suggest that the people here giving advice to be on the conservative side seem to be the ones working in "industry". the ones giveing advice to dress "with your heart" seem to be the ones in less "working" enviroments.

    It is very nice to dress however you like, and that is a great option if you don't really intend on getting ahead. good luck with that.

    clothes are, as much as we might not like to think of them in that regard, uniforms. We dress in a manner similar to the people that we wish to emulate, or similar to ideas or concepts that we are aiming for. we are communicating with our enviroment something about ourselves and how we wish to be percieved.

    your work clothes, while you should enjoy them, need to convey the right message to the people you work with. what is that message? slob? peacock? working stiff who focuses on getting the job done and making his boss look good? the majority of the people you meet in a new job are going to judge you on your clothes, and they could be very astute in their judgements.

    In one job I was in, after pulling down a huge deal, I went for a month to an all hawaiian shirt wardrobe. it was a casual company, and I was in a position that everybody knew me, and knew what I had just done, and this was concedered very cool. if, after a year at the job, you do something that stands out in a way that everybody will know you as the young man who closed the jones account, then by all means start wearing what you like. but you don't want people to be asking each other "did that young fop who wears armani suits really close the jones account?" you want people to say "did you see the nice suit that young shark who closed the jones account is wearing today?"
     
  16. HeyYouItsMike

    HeyYouItsMike Well-Known Member

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    I agree with other posters that you shouldn't go too over the top. If I saw an analyst wearing Brioni I would be rolling my eyes (not that I would know unless he told me). The second you make the slightest mistake, people will be thinking things like "maybe he should spend less time on his clothes" and things like that. It is silly, but you could develop a bad image through no fault of your own. I think Canali or something similar would be more appropriate.
     
  17. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    Amen.

    Jon.
     
  18. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    Globetrotter: I think the question isn't as much dressing how you like, vs specific brands that may be appropriate, and I think there will be a bit of disagreement here. Obviously most of us aren't suggesting he go against the very clearly stated business formal dress code. There isn't any "over the top" about Brioni, unless you wear the tag on your sleeve that says "Brioni" [​IMG] It's a clean, understated suit, that looks good, and if you wear it in a conservative color (charcoal, navy) you won't have any issues. I worked in IB and with several mutual funds for several years (including one of the most conservative, old-guard, MF companies) and wouldn't hesitate to wear Brioni, all day and every day, if it was an appropriate color/pattern. I think rsp was correct in saying that if you wear an appropriately colored/patterned brioni, 90-99% of people will not notice, or say "nice suit" at best, and the ones that do will be interested. When it comes to watches/accessories, a little more care must be taken to find items that are understated, but say you are wearing a $15k Patek, it is easy to say you received it from your father/grandfather, etc... I wore a daytona much of the time without issues, but I would recommend against something gaudy (14k/ss, gold, etc)
     
  19. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    drizzt

    agreed, I was trying to (gently) take exception to those posters who said basically to wear what ever you wanted. I think that that was a little irresponsible. In a conservative office enviroment, the new guy can't wear what ever he likes. but I would agree that he can wear a better cut of the same kind of thing that others are, and perhaps one really good accessory, without attracting too much attention.
     
  20. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I totally agree with KidKim's comment here. I love Borrelli and especially love Belvest, but would I feel just a little self-conscious in such a suit among my co-workers, most of whom where the horribly baggy blue shirt and khakis, and only occassion wear cheap suits? Yes, probably.

    But when I wear my Oxxford -- even though I personally think Louis Boston's Belvest suits are more "elegant" or "dashing" -- I feel perfect. Fits like a glove, super comfortable, beautiful fabric, most handwork, etc. But the difference between the Oxxford and a fused dreck, to the naked eye, is very subtle (unless you know the differences). Yes, it is clear that my suit looks better, but to the unknowledgeable observer -- which is really the ones we care about when we discuss dressing too "expensively" (because the people who know would appreciate such dress) -- it's not clear why. I love that.

    So, in sum, I'd say you should strongly consider going with MTM Oxxford if you really want to spend that much (or go with Oxxford Bespoke if you can get to Louis Boston for a weekend -- I'm not sure if the NYC Oxxford store offers bespoke). Not all Oxxford cuts are classically American, and even those that are are really elegant because of their understativeness (something that isn't appreciated in a dressing room, but is appreciated in real life I have found).

    Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece MTM is another really good option, IMO, as is Purple Label MTM (not sure if that's still going on right now). I think both St. Andrews and Greenfield will do a more understated suit than Brioni will. (Brioni is indeed the don't f with me suit).
     

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