IB Women’s Dress Code

Hi, interning at a BB IB in the West Coast next summer and trying to do shopping early to get stuff on sale. What is dress code typically like at a BB West Coast office and which brands/styles do most women frequent? Examples of outfits are really helpful. Also, any must-not wears I should know about? Thanks so much!

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Most Helpful
Sep 10, 2020 - 3:29pm

Not on the West Coast, but my go to outfits are J. Crew cameron pants and a sweater or top, shell in the summers and keep a pullover in the office. Also love Theory and Banana Republic dresses. Go to shoes are Stubbs & Wootton loafers, Tory Burch Chelsea Pumps, Ferragamo Varinas, or flats or flat boots with jeans on Friday. When I started out I bought a lot of Ann Taylor/BR but I've gravitated towards Club Monaco, J. Crew, and Equipment for tops and dresses. You can find pretty much anything on Poshmark, Mercari, ThredUp, The Real Real, or eBay and especially now. We may work in IB but my motto is NEVER pay full price. @ThriftandTell on Instagram is really great for this - invest in a really nice blazer you can wear 6 different ways with a H&M dress or Zara jeans. 

Array

  • 11
Sep 10, 2020 - 11:48pm

Yes -- this varies by firm and even offices at the same firm. We are allowed to wear jeans on Fridays so I normally do a nice top and mules or sneakers with jeans. 

Array

Sep 11, 2020 - 2:05am

Thank you so much for sharing! Three questions: 

1. What is your opinion on using work style backpacks (eg. https://www.dagnedover.com/collections/the-dakota-backpack) instead of big shoulder totes?

2. Are white blazers on top of navy blue/black dresses/black slacks automatically a no-go for business professional & business casual offices?

3. If my blazer and pants are matching color but not the same brand, so different material/shade of color, is that awkward? Should I just go for a matching set?

Thanks so much for your time and help! :)

Sep 11, 2020 - 5:14am

On the backpacks, I personally tend to stick to totes because it's just easier to access in my opinion, plus backpack straps can wrinkle suit jacket shoulders. I wasn't a big tote person prior to starting in IB, but I have to admit it does have advantages

On the white jacket, think that's really dependent on office. I'm NYC based, so tends to be a bit more buttoned up and I wouldn't wear it in my office, but on the west coast it could be acceptable in a biz casual setting, but would take cues from others.

  • on the matching of separates... this one is really hit or miss, blacks are easier to match but I think it's too hard to match greys or blues so I try to stick to sets on those

A few other things:
- one of the brands I LOVE recently is MM la Fleur (also women-owned so that's cool). Super functional, staple pieces that are classic
- do not wear open toed pumps. I know it might be summer, and you're going to be on the west coast, but just don't haha

Generally, my approach when building my wardrobe as a 1yr analyst was the following (also would note I'm not fashion-oriented, and was looking for the basics to later build on once I was more established + had more $ to spend):

  • invest in a few (2-3) "quality" suits that you get tailored... don't have to be expensive, but also these are more of a staple piece so want them to last
  • 1-2 "quality" blouses (white/French blue/cream)
  • 3-4 shells, not super expensive (I honestly just found I style I liked and bought like 2 in each color)
  • a couple of cheap button downs (think GAP / H&M level haha)
  • 2 cheap blazers, one in black and one in blue that kinda matches suit (or grey if that's your thing).. left both at the office in the event of a meeting that pops up, just to have a back up
  • 2 pairs black heels, one nude, pair of oxfords, pair of loafers, pair of all birds for a) commuting and b). Late nights in office
  • 2-3 dresses
  • something to keep you warm in the office (I went for a blanket scarf, could be a cardigan, anything)

Dresses were a game changer for me because it's really easy to look put together, removes the headache of matching separates, and (if you find the right fabric) don't wrinkle as easily. Obviously be cognizant of cuts etc, but personally the addition of dresses into my wardrobe was huge

At the end of the day, you're just looking to not have attention drawn to your outfit as a a female analyst. Sometimes you might see female senior bankers with crazy prints, huge brand names, etc. but for analysts, the goal is to not stick out for your clothing. Last thing I'd say is I've always found if I'm unsure of the level of formality, err on the side of more formal. Obv for guys it's easy to remove a tie and a jacket to go from formal to biz casual, but for women it's less clearly defined, and it's better to be slightly over dressed than under dressed.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 21, 2020 - 2:02am

Not currently working in SF, but from the Bay Area. SF is a little bit more casual than most offices because of the tech culture (but emphasis on the slightly). Weather in the area is great (no humidity!) but it is on the cold side so I'd also recommend investing into a nice light jacket or two which you could wear into the office because you'll need it 9 months out of the year (if not more).

I'd recommend looking at Everlane on the higher end of price, but I've mostly shopped at J Crew Factory and Loft Outlet because the prices are great and so is the quality.

Sep 21, 2020 - 10:40am

I agree wearing a dress is much easier but I get cold really easily in the office thanks to strong air conditioning. Anyone has recommendations on keeping your legs/feet warm when wearing a dress? Thanks!

Mar 17, 2021 - 10:39am

I used to work with this woman who would keep a space heater under her desk and leave it running all day. I thought this was pretty crazy because my internship was in Texas during the summer and it was like 100 degrees outside everyday. Makes more sense given she was wearing a dress or skirt everyday.

Sep 21, 2020 - 10:59am

bump

"Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes." -U.S. Navy General Farragut
Jan 8, 2021 - 4:03pm

Shopping tips below may be slightly biased to someone working in the UK but here we go: 
 

- Definitely buy a black blazer (from any brand really, Hugo boss / Tiger / Sandro / The Kooples if you're looking for something more premium otherwise just Zara / GAP / H&M / Next would do). I'd buy an oversized one which I personally like and one more fitted

- buy 1-2 white blouses (H&M for shirts and Zara for blouses would do). If you're in the UK then do check out M&S they have surprisingly good quality office clothes. Blouses can be cute looking with a bow or whatever. Or V-neck ones 

- white / blue shirt (Ralph Lauren or H&M have good options)

- black and/or navy blue office pants. I like high waisted ones (I found a few at Next that I love and Zara) 

- if you're into skirts and dresses then check out Banana Republic, Reiss, Dorothy Perkins)

- if you're wearing a dress then I recommend buying like a black poncho you can wear when it's cold because of AC

- shoes - depends if you want heels or not. I wore mostly flats (ferragamo or Chanel, but after 1-2 years of working). If you're just starting out then any black polished shoes with a little bit of heel would do. Skip the high heels it's just not worth it, only for events. I actually found a nice pair of flats with a bit of heels at M&S but Aldo or Zalando has many options 

- you need a nice bag. I LOVE bags so I can go one forever about this but it really depends on your budget. But any leathery high quality bag that can fit your laptop would do. I didn't see many women use portfolio looking bags but I personally like them

- you need basic nude / white / black bras or bralettes nothing too lacey as it can easily show when wearing a blouse. Especially if you wear a light / transparent white blouse and one can see your bra which is super unprofessional. I see too women many making this mistake especially when the weather is warm 

Mar 16, 2021 - 5:35am

As an investment banker, there are some restrictions that you need to follow. However, when it comes to women, there are much more options. The general rule is that you have to look professional and stylish as well. You can't go wrong with skirts and trousers. Talking about the jewelry, try keeping it minimal. A pair of diamond stud earrings usually go with most of the outfits. Avoid wearing the adornments that are not your ear's size such as hoop earrings.

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