Major London Banks: The Unwritten Dress Code

London might be considered one of the world’s fashion capitals, but banking sector dress codes still favour a more traditional approach to attire. If you are hoping to impress in London’s banks, it is best to make a note of what everyone else is wearing and follow suit.

Major London Banks: The Unwritten Dress Code

The Financial Times explains how unwritten dress codes in London’s banking sector make life difficult for individuals from less-privileged backgrounds. Blending in is key in many major London banks, particularly if you are just starting out in your career. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you are not sure whether something is appropriate, it is probably best to steer clear.

Facial hair

Neatly-trimmed beards are generally acceptable these days, but you should keep facial hair well-groomed at all times. The clean-shaven look is still preferred in many of the more formal and traditional banks, but beards are far more acceptable than they used to be.

Major London Banks: The Unwritten Dress Code

A well-cut suit

The most important thing when choosing a suit is to ensure you get the perfect fit. You don’t need to buy a tailored suit – although these are very common at French banks, such as BNP Paribas – but you should be prepared to have your off-the-peg suit altered by a professional if the fit is not perfect.

Colour schemes

Most banking employees stick to neutral tones and traditional conservative colours. You will notice most men and women wear navy or grey suits in plain fabrics without patterns. High-quality shirts, such as mens Farah shirts from a reputable stockist such as, are a safe option. Both suits and shirts should be fairly slim-fitting for a smart, tailored finish. Shirts should be white or blue in most cases, and avoid pinstripes at all costs – these tend to be associated with less-sophisticated sectors of banking.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your tie

Some more relaxed banks do not expect employees to wear a tie every day – unless you are meeting clients – but many of the more traditional firms do. If you are not sure, it is a good idea to follow your manager’s lead. Stay away from anything too garish or unusual, and anything heavily patterned with bright colours. Blue is the safest choice if you are not sure what to opt for.