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Sankalp

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TheFoo

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I always say that clothes don’t exist in a vacuum and that context is key. As a self confessed ignoramus of this thread (aside from my very rare forays just to test the water and see if one of my less formal rigs meets with any approval) I’d be interested to know the context in which some of you wear some of these things. I don’t think you’re a bunch of Wall Street investment bankers or white shoe lawyers but I’m clueless as to what occasion / environment some items were selected for. If anyone wants to play along and it’s not too burdensome, please feel free to add a comment as to your environment. Ball game / dinner / beach stroll / divorce proceedings / Capitol Hill deposition … whatever!

I’m a Wall Street investment banker, so for starters, I think your premise may require a little re-investigation.

Granted, I cover technology / software companies, so I inhabit the far casual end in the scheme of investment banking. However, even speaking more broadly for the profession, suits have become a rarity. And nobody ever, ever wears a tie. Go to any NYC office (financial services or otherwise) and you’d see everyone has shifted hard toward business casual as the highest level of formality and often dress even more casual (jeans / five-pocket pants and sneakers). Covid accelerated this trend, but the shift had already taken hold many years prior. In my position these days, wearing a suit with tie would look out-of-touch, aloof, ignorant, amateur, etc.—to both co-workers and clients.

So, take that as a starting point: in the financial industry, stuffy tailored clothing is no longer normal. Then, consider the contextual effect of rank / position. Today, I head a group and effectively report to nobody—i.e., I have wide latitude to do what I want so long as I bring in business. Further, things have gone so far away from traditional business attire that it actually signals power, prestige, position, etc., to dress even more casually and un-businesslike. Watch Billions? The way they portray the stylistic choices of Bobby Axelrod, the guy at the top of his firm and industry, is very accurate to real life. Wearing torn jeans, sneakers, and a faded rock band T-shirt more effectively expresses CEO vibes than a bespoke suit.

All that is to say, the professional world has simply shifted toward better alignment with individual desires: the more you succeed and establish yourself, the more freedom you have to dress as you please, and clients / customers / colleagues see it that way too. Today, it’s the juniors that still wear Brooks Brothers and Suitsupply everywhere. They haven’t earned the right to do otherwise yet. Your boss is more likely to show up in a hoodie.

Your post mentions lawyers, depositions, Capitol Hill, etc. Are you a DC lawyer by chance? DC is a weirdly conservative blackhole when it comes to attire and fashion and business dress. Whenever I visit, I am astonished by the number of horrible fitting charcoal suits everyone is wearing. These are obviously clothes they feel they are required to wear for propriety’s sake, not anything they take sartorial pride in.

In other words, DC is obviously not on pace with the rest of the country when it comes to attitudes toward dressing professionally. This also reflects how folks in the area dress in non-professional social situations. I go back the area all the time to see family / friends and dress as I do in NYC, with a strong lean toward SLP / Celine aesthetics combined with streetwear inflections. Very cliche, boring, uninteresting stuff per this forum, but I stand out in DC—and not positively. Weird looks at restaurants. Closer friends asking me if dads really dress “that way” in New York. In Manhattan, nobody bats an eyelash, where I either look like the dude next to me or he’s dressed far stranger.
 
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verver

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I’m a Wall Street investment banker, so for starters, I think your premise may require a little re-investigation.

Granted, I cover technology / software companies, so I inhabit the far casual end in the scheme of investment banking. However, even speaking more broadly for the profession, suits have become a rarity. And nobody ever, ever wears a tie. Go to any NYC office (financial services or otherwise) and you’d see everyone has shifted hard toward business casual as the highest level of formality and often dress even more casual (jeans / five-pocket pants and sneakers). Covid accelerated this trend, but the shift had already taken hold many years prior. In my position these days, wearing a suit with tie would look out-of-touch, aloof, ignorant, amateur, etc.—to both co-workers and clients.

So, take that as a starting point: in the financial industry, stuffy tailored clothing is no longer normal. Then, consider the contextual effect of rank / position. Today, I head a group and effectively report to nobody—i.e., I have wide latitude to do what I want so long as I bring in business. Further, things have gone so far away from traditional business attire that it actually signals power, prestige, position, etc., to dress even more casually and un-businesslike. Watch Billions? The way they portray the stylistic choices of Bobby Axelrod, the guy at the top of his firm and industry, is very accurate to real life. Wearing torn jeans, sneakers, and a faded rock band T-shirt more effectively expresses CEO vibes than a bespoke suit.

All that is to say, the professional world has simply shifted toward better alignment with individual desires: the more you succeed and establish yourself, the more freedom you have to dress as you please, and clients / customers / colleagues see it that way too. Today, it’s the juniors that still wear Brooks Brothers and Suitsupply everywhere. They haven’t earned the right to do otherwise yet. Your boss is more likely to show up in a hoodie.

Your post mentions lawyers, depositions, Capitol Hill, etc. Are you a DC lawyer by chance? DC is a weirdly conservative blackhole when it comes to attire and fashion and business dress. Whenever I visit, I am astonished by the number of horrible fitting charcoal suits everyone is wearing. These are obviously clothes they feel they are required to wear for propriety’s sake, not anything they take sartorial pride in.

In other words, DC is obviously not on pace with the rest of the country when it comes to attitudes toward dressing professionally. This also reflects how folks in the area dress in non-professional social situations. I go back the area all the time to see family / friends and dress as I do in NYC, with a strong lean toward SLP / Celine aesthetics combined with streetwear inflections. Very cliche, boring, uninteresting stuff per this forum, but I stand out in DC—and not positively. Weird looks at restaurants. Closer friends asking me if dads really dress “that way” in New York. In Manhattan, nobody bats an eyelash, where I either look like the dude next to me or he’s dressed far stranger.
Whut
 

zissou

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I’m a Wall Street investment banker, so for starters, I think your premise may require a little re-investigation.

Granted, I cover technology / software companies, so I inhabit the far casual end in the scheme of investment banking. However, even speaking more broadly for the profession, suits have become a rarity. And nobody ever, ever wears a tie. Go to any NYC office (financial services or otherwise) and you’d see everyone has shifted hard toward business casual as the highest level of formality and often dress even more casual (jeans / five-pocket pants and sneakers). Covid accelerated this trend, but the shift had already taken hold many years prior. In my position these days, wearing a suit with tie would look out-of-touch, aloof, ignorant, amateur, etc.—to both co-workers and clients.

So, take that as a starting point: in the financial industry, stuffy tailored clothing is no longer normal. Then, consider the contextual effect of rank / position. Today, I head a group and effectively report to nobody—i.e., I have wide latitude to do what I want so long as I bring in business. Further, things have gone so far away from traditional business attire that it actually signals power, prestige, position, etc., to dress even more casually and un-businesslike. Watch Billions? The way they portray the stylistic choices of Bobby Axelrod, the guy at the top of his firm and industry, is very accurate to real life. Wearing torn jeans, sneakers, and a faded rock band T-shirt more effectively expresses CEO vibes than a bespoke suit.

All that is to say, the professional world has simply shifted toward better alignment with individual desires: the more you succeed and establish yourself, the more freedom you have to dress as you please, and clients / customers / colleagues see it that way too. Today, it’s the juniors that still wear Brooks Brothers and Suitsupply everywhere. They haven’t earned the right to do otherwise yet. Your boss is more likely to show up in a hoodie.

Your post mentions lawyers, depositions, Capitol Hill, etc. Are you a DC lawyer by chance? DC is a weirdly conservative blackhole when it comes to attire and fashion and business dress. Whenever I visit, I am astonished by the number of horrible fitting charcoal suits everyone is wearing. These are obviously clothes they feel they are required to wear for propriety’s sake, not anything they take sartorial pride in.

In other words, DC is obviously not on pace with the rest of the country when it comes to attitudes toward dressing professionally. This also reflects how folks in the area dress in non-professional social situations. I go back the area all the time to see family / friends and dress as I do in NYC, with a strong lean toward SLP / Celine aesthetics combined with streetwear inflections. Very cliche, boring, uninteresting stuff per this forum, but I stand out in DC—and not positively. Weird looks at restaurants. Closer friends asking me if dads really dress “that way” in New York. In Manhattan, nobody bats an eyelash, where I either look like the dude next to me or he’s dressed far stranger.
Does this mean I shouldn’t wear a tie to my interview next week? Honestly, the group I’m interviewing with is mostly guys who wear old tees. My philosophy for interviews is dress just slightly better than everyone else in the room.
 

TheFoo

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Does this mean I shouldn’t wear a tie to my interview next week? Honestly, the group I’m interviewing with is mostly guys who wear old tees. My philosophy for interviews is dress just slightly better than everyone else in the room.

What level are you? I wouldn’t fault an analyst or associate for dressing up in formal business attire, but certainly safe to ditch the tie.
 

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