By this point the Wall Street Journal‘s story on Swiss banking firm UBS AG’s 43-page dress code has already made the rounds on the internet — no doubt frustrating the ITS people over at UBS, who must have woken up this morning to find their servers full of non-employees trying to track down a copy of the code.
If you haven’t seen a version of the story from someone yet, here’s the deal: UBS, in a self-proclaimed attempt to bring a little “Swiss precision” to their employees’ appearance, issued a novella-length document filled with everything from rules on cufflinks (not allowed) to advice on how much foundation women should use. And yes, there are rules in there about their underwear.
So what does a non-UBS worker do in a world with rules like that, other than be happy about his career choice?
For starters, keep it in mind as a great example of conservative business dress. You may work for a more relaxed employer — or for yourself, from home, in your underwear for all anyone knows — but when you go out into the world stories like the UBS dress code can give you a real understanding of what the most entrenched rules of menswear are. Some key examples from the dress code we liked:
What Color Suit should a Banker wear?
Black, dark gray, or navy blue suits are the only permitted colors for men. These “symbolize competence, formalism, and sobriety.” As boring as the UBS code makes it sound, this is actually good advice for anyone donning a suit for professional reasons — those colors will give you the most bang for your buck.
Black is an interesting inclusion, since many traditionalists consider black exclusively the domain of formal wear, but charcoal gray and navy blue have been the all-occasion-appropriate staples for years, and look to stay that way.
Bankers and Neckties
Men wearing neckties — and by this code that’s all of ’em — were told to use the appropriate tie knot for their face. We’d go one further and mention that specific collar types also work best with specific knots, even though we’re a little uneasy sounding pickier than UBS at this point.
Finance professionals and Jewelry
Jewelry for men is out, but wristwatches are in — not just allowed, but specifically encouraged. The style writers at UBS think watches signify “reliability and great care for punctuality,” and we agree.
Pay Attention to your Suit Hanger
Hangers for suits get a specific recommendation: large, with rounded shoulders to keep the shape of the jacket. We can’t think why you’d use anything else.
Bankers and Socks
Socks that are too short get a finger wagged at them. The UBS guide points out, rightly so, that a band of bare flesh showing beneath your trouser leg is unsightly. The recommended knee-highs might be overkill, but go for mid-calf socks at least. Read this detailed article on socks if you’re still baffled about the rules pertaining to hosiery
A Banker should not smell like Onions!
Smells take a serious beating in the UBS guide, which not only discourages smoking but also eating onions or garlic – and they remind you to shower daily! And sure, that sounds kind of micromanaged when you put it down on paper and hand it out to employees, but let’s face it — most of the affected employees sit in small rooms and talk intently at people all day long.
We’re all for telling them to lay off the Liverwurst specials and take a bath… please.
Final thoughts on the UBS 43 page Dress Code
It’s worth mentioning that the document is currently in a sort of unofficial trial run. The HR department (or whatever it’s called in Switzerland) is waiting to see how this goes over with a sampling of employees before laying it down as corporation-wide law.
We’re going to go out on a limb and say the employees of UBS are not going to be thrilled…however if they aren’t abiding by these rules someone has to lay down the law.