How formal to dress?

With the increase workplace casualisation in terms of dress codes, what are your tips to making sure you are the correct formality, especially as a junior employee. It seems one would not want to be the most casual in the office but do not want to seem out of place and dress like a senior banker.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (5)

Most Helpful
May 3, 2019 - 11:39am

This is one of those "play it by ear" situations as there is no answer that will work across the board. The most often given advice is to dress like your peers and if it's your first day, err on the side of more formal. You get a freebie on day one since you don't really know the office and it's somewhat better (my opinion) to up-dress for a first impression.

The approach that I've taken is to establish a bit of a uniform. In my everyday office setting the dress code is business casual, meaning a button up shirt and slacks for men. It's sort of a case by case basis if we'll up it to a suit for clients - depending on relationship with client, their formality, etc. I have 5 or 6 white shirts, 3 light blue, a pink one, a couple checked ones for when I'm feeling frisky, and an array of gray/brown/blue slacks. The advantage is that I can grab any shirt + pant and they match - I don't particularly care about fashion so this makes it easy for me. It may come off as boring, but in my experience, you'd rather come off as a boring dresser to clients rather than remind them of their dipshit nephew (especially when you're younger in the biz). I also leave a navy blazer in the office for an spur of the moment trips/meetings.

May 3, 2019 - 12:17pm

Very good advice above: in the office, dress like you're a member of the team. A minor variant: dress like the guys who have the job you will be doing after your next promotion (assuming it's not radically different from your current team.)

Different answer when you're meeting with clients. In general, professional services firms show up matching the client's dress code, or maybe a notch more formal. In other situations, the company norm is to show up looking like highly-compensated financial experts. Rather than guessing, just ask the people you work with.

If you haven't started yet, pick up the phone and call your HR contact from the recruiting process. They will be glad to fill you in.

  • 1
Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

June 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (203) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (115) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (97) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (27) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (420) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (338) $82