Wall Street Fashion for the Girls

So if there's 90 million diff threads running on men's watches/ties/sleeve type (really?!?) etc, I figured it's totally legit to start one measly thread about women's attire. I realize I have a lot of questions but advice would be VERY welcomed.

Random questions as I start to buy my FT banking wardrobe (I was S&T last summer, it's been my experience that the dress is pretty diff for women in banking).

1) what kind of bag do you guys carry to work? a larger purse? i'm thinking about splurging and buying something decent, do people actually care?

2) how often do you wear suits vs: separates?

3) if a dress is fitted but has sleeves, comes down to your knees and is made of appropriate material - can you wear it to work? or should i opt for less form fitting silhouettes (caveat, before any of the guys make snarky comments - assume that the girl in question can pull of said slim fitting dress). what about colors or patterns? is a red, wool long sleeved dress fine for work? or must i always wear black, navy, etc?

*example of questionable dresses: http://www.jcrew.com/catalog/product.jhtml?id=pro…


4) how does attire shift in warmer months - hose? open toed shoes at times (peep toed?).

5) has anyone ever darted out of the office to hit up a midtown/garment district sample sale for like 45 minutes? the thought of being 5 blocks away from 75% of theory and not being able to go is more than a little bit painful.

6) any general tips would be great.

to newbie female bankers even more clueless than me (or cross dressing traders), here two tips of my own:

1) i used to think i was priced out of neimans & saks for work wear, because let's be honest 600 suits weren't really my cup of tea. however their last call/clearance section online has amazing deals on theory etc. i just got two theory dresses for 115 a pop. also, they let you return to the stores for free and most of the time have a free shipping promo running so it's really not a bad deal.

2) and one cheap suit tip for women - i don't know why they aren't mentioned on this forum often, but united colors of benneton has great inexpensive suiting (i know there's one in the seaport - i drunkenly bought a suit there last summer). personally i think their stuff is way more professional/tailored than ann taylor, express or limited or any of the other cheap suit standbys. if you're skinny, randomly, victoria secret can also look polished if you buy VERY, very discriminatingly - but i'd only advocate that if you're on a very tight budget.

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Comments (193)

Apr 26, 2008 - 10:36am

Since I am starting FT in S&T in July (I was an SA at the same place last summer) Here is a brief list of the following items I have purchased thus far:
- 7 pairs of dark colored pants all from BCBG or Theory all on sale
- 2 skirts from same places
- 3 pairs of shoes from DSW
(The outlets are great and Bloomingdales always has sales racks so long as you have the patience to look you can find a bunch of good stuff)
- A handful of random tops

Here are my main issues: Although I do not mind spending 200+ for a pair of pants I have major issues with spending this much on shirts. I am having the hardest time finding shirts that fit, don't look cheap and wear well. I've had some Banana shirts (sweaters and button downs) I find them to wash terribly and wrinkle easily. JCrew button downs are decent but I find their choices hit or miss. Express I find also to be hit or miss? Ann Taylor I think looks too 'Mom' like.

Bag---- I feel like on a trading floor my bag is going to get stuffed under the desk and ultimately get ruined. I don't feel like buying a 600+ bag so that I can step on it. I'm thinking the Tory Burch Totes (175-250) are very cute; Longchamps seem to be a staple on the Trading Floor from what I have seen. A coach tote?

Apr 26, 2008 - 2:17pm

When it comes to heels, how high is too high?

For us ladies with long hair, should we keep it tied up?

From my experience a good bag says alot. I have a black leather gucci with gold chain handles that looks good with everything. It's not too flashy and it looks professional. Although I would hesitate before taking it on to the trading floor and having to shove it under someone's desk! I have a LV that's cream and blue checks but I wouldn't take that in, except perhaps on my last day.

Peep toes are cute, but I'd say only in the summer and with pants, otherwise you look like you're off on holiday.

Where can we get non iron shirts for ladies?

I think skirt suits look great, and I prefer suits to separates. Everyone looks much sharper with a jacket on I reckon.

Jun 19, 2008 - 3:35pm

Re: heel height, I think it depends on a number of factors, including your personality, height, and the style of the shoe. If it's a classic pump or something of that nature I think anything up to 4" is fine as long as you don't look like an Amazon . . . if the color/style is flashy you might want to stick with a slightly lower heel . . . and please, for everyone's sake, don't wear exposed platforms to the office!!! hidden platforms are much classier :)

Used to leave my hair down, until my VP told me that when I was an intern, for the first 2 weeks he always thought I wasn't paying attention b/c I would be messing w/my hair - it was completely not intentional. Now I keep it up mostly to remove the temptation

ITA on the good bag - nothing too flashy, agree the LV damier azur is probably a bit much. That said, nothing wrong with a high quality understated leather tote in black/brown/cream. Birkins are always a great choice of course (love the etoupe w/palladium hardware!), otherwise Chanel, Gucci, Bottega and Ferragamo usually have a good selection of classic bags that aren't festooned with logos

I probably would shy away from peep toes in anything but black or nude

In summer, I've found that a shift dress with a blazer makes a more comfortable alternative to the skirt suit, which I tend to reserve for cooler weather

Apr 26, 2008 - 8:16pm

I, for one, am so happy to see this thread on here. In any case - Lacoste has great shirts for women and they also have some really fun colors. The other thing (and trust me - I know this sounds bizarre) to think about is buying the shirt bodysuits? I know they seem weird but they are sort of the best thing in the world because they stay so flat and neat tucked into pencil skirts all day and then you can't see the outline of your shirttails through your pencil skirt which is the most aggravating thing ever. As for heels - I think 4 inches is totally fine so long as you avoid things such as wood/metal heels as opposed to leather covered ones, weird colors, peep toes and chunky heels (keep them stilettos), weird gold embellishments, platforms etc. Just use good judgment and make sure you're buying something that looks traditional and 4 inchers should be fine. Anything above 4 inches is a no go though.

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Apr 28, 2008 - 10:57pm

Loving this thread, guys...
im also curious about whether its ok to wear non-floozyish dresses to work...and this may be a dumb question, but if i wear a knee-length skirt in the summer, do i have to wear stockings? i think id feel so matronly in nude pantyhose everyday!
also, my two cents: i worked in ib last summer too, and swore by my french connection pants. i have a really hard time finding buttown-downs that dont gape at the chest, but found that i did really well at benetton, and also at thomas pink, actually. they have a big sale every summer, and their styles are a lot more fun than you'd expect. and for the person who asked about bags, I (along with every other generic female) carried longchamps.

Apr 28, 2008 - 11:27pm

Non-iron shirt recommendation: Brooks Brothers! It's not just for guys, I swear. Their new "tailored" cut is longer in the front to stay tucked in and is a lot slimmer than their boxier "classic" fit.

Also, about those bodysuits: I purchased some at Victoria's Secret (don't ask) and they were of horrible quality (you get what you pay for). I'm returning them. srr636, where can you purchase bodysuits of (much) better quality?

Apr 29, 2008 - 1:07am

shirt dresses were pretty common at my office, and most people didn't wear pantyhose during the summer, but i did see some people wearing dark/black hose which is another option i guess... also sweater sets/cardigans were big although theyre not personally my style... as for places i personally have found to be useful: banana republic, occasionally ann taylor, benetton, and i find department store sales to be a great source of nicer staple pieces like better constructed suits and shirts

Apr 29, 2008 - 3:37am

To the OP- thanks for starting this thread.

The best advice I've seen from the men's threads is to show up in a suit/conservative outfit on your first day and observe. Every bank and group has its own dress code. What most others around you are wearing is what you should be.

Take notes on the differences between what the more senior women are wearing vs. what other women your age are wearing. The more senior bankers tend to have a looser dress code than the younger ones.

Cut the crap and go to Theory. :)
Like many other posters have mentioned, it's not hard to find Theory and BCBG on sale.
JCrew suits-since a lot of them seem to be online-only, I'd be careful about ordering suits online. I got something basic there and the materials is wayyyy too shiny.

The basic dresses don't much less professional under proper jackets. I'd avoid prints though.

Shirts & Tops:
I like the basic Theory button down. Managed to find it marked down to ~100.
Also, some girls (not me) find shirts at Express to fit well. They don't look nearly as crappy as their suits.
Uniqlo, a Japanese basics store @ Soho (Broadway, Prince) has a good selection of basic shirts and sweaters. By that I mean you have a huge wall of few basic styles (vneck, turtleneck, cardigans) in over 10 colors. Okay quality for sweaters. A bit cheaper than their close-to=identical twins at Jcrew.
Heavy starch helps, especially if you dislike ironing.

Longchamp is a staple for..Manhattan. It. Is. Everywhere. Since it's relatively inexpensive, it's a safe one to have for your first days.
Agree with prettyspectacular on the fancier bags: As long as it's dark-colored, and professional looking. Non-monogram-print LV's should work fine.
Avoid too much patent leather, prints, and bright colors to be on the safe side.
Obviously this does not apply if everyone around you has like the spring collection of some designer (read: bright colors, ridiculous materials). Again, observe.

Peep toed obviously means pedicure. I wouldn't combine patent leather with high heels- that screams clubbing, not banking.

I've seen it down..a lot. It's probably fine as long as it's not too long and nicely straightened or styled..with no frizz whatsoever. (Slightly exaggerated comment on this one..)
Sephora has a good selection of straightening irons, by the way. They are a bit pricey, but are good investments.
Most drug stores in Manhattan have the salon-only hair products. Having a full set for your hair texture can go a long way.. and save you time on styling.

About warm weather:
Remember that you spend more time in the office than not.. and it's always winter there.

Apr 30, 2008 - 12:27am
How do girls generally wear their makeup?


Cut down on everything if you normally use makeup. Obviously don't cut on concealers that make you look like you actually got sleep. ;)

Curled lashes goes a long way on making you look more awake. Mascara &
Non-heavy neutral (this is b/c some people regularly use like.. blue) eyeliner if needed. Blush.

Invest in brushes- saves you time in application.

Apr 29, 2008 - 10:29pm

That print dress from jcrew looks terrible. I like the classy stuff. I have a trench coat (in dark green to be a little different), a few suits (grey, blue, brown, black and black pinstriped), a few simple dresses that are either brown or black, nude tights (my tights always run, so I gave up on black tights), black purple and red pairs of shoes. I stick with classy stuff. Stuff that even if it's cheap, it still looks good. A lot of my stuff comes from Ann Taylor Loft and Old Navy, but you would never know.

I have shoulder length hair, with blonde highlights that I put in myself. I wouldn't recommend doing that at home, I'm a natural ash blonde so messing up wasn't really able to happen. I just didn't want it looking so dingy.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********
Apr 30, 2008 - 1:39am

I actually own the dress from JCrew the OP mentioned - I don't know how I feel about it being work appropriate (maybe under a blazer?) but in her defense, it's actually cute.

as far as makeup goes - i've found mineral makeup from bare escentuals to be, well, essential. it doesn't get cakey, it's easy to reapply in the bathrooms and it's not going to decimate your skin when you've been at the office and in makeup for 18 hours straight.

Apr 30, 2008 - 8:36pm

I taped up the a/c vent that was over my desk with duct tape. I got a few laughs when I stood on the desk to do it, but it has made quite a difference!!!

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********
May 2, 2008 - 12:12pm

I'll chime in...

Suits vs. Separates? Separates. Absolutely. Not a fan of suits anymore. I don't like that pre-packaged look. I like to mix and match and create my own style.

Trousers: Most of my work pants are either from Piazza Sempione, Theory, Akris or Burberry. I hit Neiman's Last Call for great Piazza and Akris. Theory eventually goes on sale everywhere - Bloomingdale's, Saks, Neiman's. Burberry always has amazing sales.

Blouses: Most are either Theory or Anne Fontaine. Theory outlets are the best places to get an otherwise $200 blouse for $80-100.

Shoes: I wear Prada heels most everyday. Prada's pumps generally have that rubber sole which is good for walking city streets. Otherwise, I wear a lot of Tod's dressy flats. Never more than a 2" heel at the office.

Jewelry: Very minimal. Although, I've been wearing longer earrings lately to show off a shorter hair style... yes, I chopped off the locks in pursuit of a classic Katie Holmes style haircut. I love it. Sigh.

Nails: I live in Essie's "Tribeca" color. I religiously get a manicure each week. It's my indulgence. I will say it's nice when both male and female collegues alike mention how nice my nails look. People do notice. (Sidebar: I interviewed a candidate this week who wore gothic purple/black nail polish. Bad decision. While OPI's "Lincoln Park After Dark" might be a fab color, it's not appropriate for an interview! Ladies, play it safe and stick with "Ballet Slippers" ladies.)

Makeup: I swear by Laura Mercier. I swear by Anastasia's eyebrow kit. I am eyebrow obsessed.

Purse: Spend the money. Buy a classic handbag. You can wear an inexpensive Banana Republic pant suit, but if you have the right classic handbag, your entire wardrobe kicks up a notch. Personally, I don't like Gucci or Louis Vuitton or Coach. I just have never been a fan of logo bags. Never liked them. Never will. My bag dejour is Burberry's large dark brown leather hobo or Mulberry's "Mabel". Both fit my entire life and both are suitable from work to casual.

Flaky criticism: I think women always think they have to wear a dark black suit to an interview. This is a misconception. For example, I did an informational interview recently with a young lady who had straight, long, dark hair. She wore a black suit. She also wore a black tank underneath. All black was a bad decision. She looked like she was dressed for a funderal. I kept looking at her and thought she looked harsh, goth, she was Elvira. Had she at least broken up the black suit with a white blouse, that would have been better. Classic gray, much much better.

  • 1
May 2, 2008 - 7:39pm

I feel pretty pathetic for knowing exactly which colors you're referring to for the nail colors.. and owning 2 of them. :)

Unless this is only applied to men, I thought you're suppose to avoid black suits for interviews, judging by the responses in the other fashion-related threads.

Some of my friends went to this superday a year ago and a female candidate there wore... A red suit.

If it's obviously fake, I'd go with Nay.

May 4, 2008 - 9:10pm

Lol, I like the ballet slippers color, but I'm leaning towards the french manicure these days.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********
May 9, 2008 - 7:16pm

Ballet slippers is a classic :-)

I've never had a french manicure last more than 3 days. Don't know why. It's a mystery.

May 10, 2008 - 11:03am

For the OP: I like the second dress, but whether or not dress code lightens up during the summer depends on your office. If there's someone at work that you feel comfortable talking to at this point, there's no harm in just calling to ask (I did it). My fashion choices have for work have always been a bit bolder than my girlfriends, but my office is a little indulgent. Here are a few of dresses and things I've worn/bought (or very similar), but all with a jacket:
With a fitted black jacket
With a wide gold belt and the jacket open
Mine is white above the belt, I wore my own thin green belt and a short, fitted jacket
Tucked into a charcoal gray, pinstripe pantsuit:

And for the comment about gaping button downs - I know exactly how that feels! If you have your tailor sew a tiny plastic snap button where it gapes, it holds beautifully.

Good makeup is definitely worth paying a little extra for because the last thing I need to worry about is managing my face. But also because:
1. The colors are more concentrated so you don't need to wear as much.
2. It lasts longer so you don't 'wilt' as quickly and require constant preening or reapplication.
3. It goes on your face everyday! You should be picky about it.
Brands I like: Bare Minerals, Make Up Forever, Nars, Dior, Laura Mercier. I think Sephora carries them all.

I use a Jack Georges bag and I love love LOVE it. It's sleek, roomy, and has all these great pockets everywhere. And it seems to be indestructible too - after 2 years of abuse it still looks pristine. Best of all, it's moderately priced. I think I paid around $250 for it.

May 10, 2008 - 9:03pm

I have the same gaping hole problem! I wear a safety pin sometimes. Sephora has some good stuff there!

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********
May 14, 2008 - 9:03am

I have the same gaping hole problem! I wear a safety pin sometimes. Sephora has some good stuff there!

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

That gaping hole in the blouse is often times the only thing that keeps us fellas coming to work. Please just leave it alone. We've had some great ones in my group.

Either you sling crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot

-------------- Either you sling crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot
Aug 5, 2017 - 1:50pm

I read this at 1:30. 20 minutes later, I'm still laughing.

“I’m into, uh, well, murders and executions, mostly.”
May 13, 2008 - 10:21am

Sephora used to be a place where you could hang out, undisturbed, leisurely browsing aisles upon aisles for that perfect nude lip gloss. Lately, the moment you walk in a sales associate is on your coat tail, fussing all over you. Annoying. I liked it much better when they left you alone.

May 13, 2008 - 5:07pm
Sephora used to be a place where you could hang out, undisturbed, leisurely browsing aisles upon aisles for that perfect nude lip gloss. Lately, the moment you walk in a sales associate is on your coat tail, fussing all over you. Annoying. I liked it much better when they left you alone.

Upside is that if you really need help with something...they'd be very helpful, such as this one time when I asked whether I could test out a brush. The sales associate tried to "open" one (aka take the plastic wrapping off and make it a tester), and ended up breaking the thing into two pieces. It was great.

May 16, 2008 - 2:08pm
in one of the threads for men's clothing, many people were adamant about not wearing black suits. does the same apply to women in banking?

I think so. I'm definitely of the persuasion that women should NOT wear black suits unless it's for a funeral.

That said, a black suit (skirt or pant suit) is appropriate for an evening business dinner or networking event - so long as you break the black up and add feminine details, e.g. add a brooch, add a white/colored blouse etc.

May 16, 2008 - 6:21am

I wish I looked like that at work! She looks great (although I agree on the VS quality thing).

May 21, 2008 - 9:56pm

I wear black suits sometimes, I like it though. This is because sometimes I spill lunch on myself and wearing black doesn't show stains.

I also had no idea that V.S. clothing was shoddy! Thanks for the protip! I've seen some cute stuff, but never bought anything other than underwear during their sales. Even then, I go for hanes sometimes.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********
Jun 17, 2008 - 8:43am

by longchamps im assuming you all mean the standard synthetic "le pliage" tote?

And does anyone have examples of what you might wear with a suit instead of a long sleeve button down? I find them so claustrophobic, especially in warm weather.

Jun 17, 2008 - 11:29am
by longchamps im assuming you all mean the standard synthetic "le pliage" tote?

And does anyone have examples of what you might wear with a suit instead of a long sleeve button down? I find them so claustrophobic, especially in warm weather.

No, I don't think so. I personally don't think the the "le pliage" is appropriate for work. Its much more casual wear. Longchamp has other tote bags that come in leather. I personally have this one (Roseau tote): http://www.longchamp.com/en/collections/showroom-255.html&genre=femme&r…

I don't think you need to wear long sleeve button downs in the summer. Just find some fairly conservative short sleeve ones somewhere. I bought a few from Ann Taylor and Banana Republic.

I would like to add that I'm only an intern and not FT at a bank or anything.


Jun 17, 2008 - 5:07pm

And does anyone have examples of what you might wear with a suit instead of a long sleeve button down? I find them so claustrophobic, especially in warm weather.

Just because the guys have to wear button downs doesn't mean we do! I know several people will disagree with me there, but eh. The pic on the original post has simply layered knits and it still looks good. I usually wear a nice blouse or shell with sleeves and dress it up/down with the right accessories. You can also wear a dress, which I think was mentioned earlier.

Jun 17, 2008 - 5:35pm

I hardly wear button downs. I tend towards dresses or skirts with cardigans/blouses. I have even worn a t-shirt dress - I had dark tights heels and threw a sweater over it, I don't think anyone noticed.

Definitely start conservative but take a look at what the other women in the office wear. You can get away with a lot more than you think you can. Unless you look totally slovenly or slutty, your boss (most likely male) will neither comment on nor notice what you're wearing.

At the end of the day I'm still a young woman and I'm not going to try waste the time of my life when I'm most attractive dressing in horrible unflattering button down shirts that gape at the chest.

  • 1
Jun 18, 2008 - 5:59pm
Unless you look totally slovenly or slutty, your boss (most likely male) will neither comment on nor notice what you're wearing.

At the end of the day I'm still a young woman and I'm not going to try waste the time of my life when I'm most attractive dressing in horrible unflattering button down shirts that gape at the chest.

I second that.
But aside from the ill-fitting and gaping issues, they're just plain boring.

Jun 30, 2008 - 2:34am

Hey girls

I have to ask-are capris or bermuda shorts that hit at or slightly above the knee appropriate? I was hoping I could wear black or white ones with black stockings, but wasn't sure if that would be acceptable...

Any thoughts?

Jun 30, 2008 - 1:29pm
Hey girls

I have to ask-are capris or bermuda shorts that hit at or slightly above the knee appropriate? I was hoping I could wear black or white ones with black stockings, but wasn't sure if that would be acceptable...

Any thoughts?

Probably not. And I would think it would look kind of odd with stockings. Stick with long pants or skirts.


Jun 30, 2008 - 5:45pm

Probably not. And I would think it would look kind of odd with stockings. Stick with long pants or skirts.

If your office is casual about their attire then maybe.
But I agree with City Sophisticate in saying probably not. Aside from the odd appearance, they're a little too casual. You don't want to be mistaken for the coffee girl.

Jun 1, 2010 - 12:59am

I love this trend! Keep it going ladies.

I have a question about the brands of clothes. A few posters have said they prefer some of the expensive brands because they are more comfortable, better quality, last longer etc. I agree and would love to send $200 on a pair of pants, but I simply cannot afford that.

Thus, my question is do people notice/care. I do not think it makes much of a difference for pants but for shirts especially button downs, people can tell when you have a Express wso/">shirt in comparison to a Theory wso/">shirt.

What are your opinions on this? Ladies only!

Jun 1, 2010 - 5:13pm
I love this trend! Keep it going ladies.

I have a question about the brands of clothes. A few posters have said they prefer some of the expensive brands because they are more comfortable, better quality, last longer etc. I agree and would love to send $200 on a pair of pants, but I simply cannot afford that.

Thus, my question is do people notice/care. I do not think it makes much of a difference for pants but for shirts especially button downs, people can tell when you have a Express wso/">shirt in comparison to a Theory wso/">shirt.

What are your opinions on this? Ladies only!

I worked at a BB last summer, and honestly no one cared. As long as you look neat and professional, people won't notice. In fact, there were some people that had really expensive clothing, but the clothing didn't fit right and they looked like they just rolled out of bed. I would just buy some cheap blouses at forever 21 or tj maxx/marshalls. I bought some banana republic button-downs last summer, and the quality was just awful. I think they charge $80 per wso/">shirt which isn't cheap, and after one wash they looked very worn. Sometimes marshalls and tjmaxx have theory shirts for around $50, which isn't too bad if you really want theory.

As far as shoes go, try dsw. Sometimes they have some really great stuff. I just bought these on sale:


They're very plain but they get the job done.

Jun 6, 2010 - 1:09am

They care. But even if they didn't, I think that if you look the part, you can a) get away with a lot more and b) make a positive impression far more easily.

Don't waste your time on Theory. The fabrics are extremely cheap and the cuts are too 'sexy secretary' in my opinion. The jacket lengths are too short, the buttons are always plastic, and most the time, it's 100% polyester/ acrylic/ acetate/ some other hideous synthetic.

I tried the quantity over quality approach for a while, but found that the alternative, while less of an initial value play, seems to pay off more in the long-run. To quote Oscar Wilde, anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination. Check out Gilt Groupe, sample sales, holiday sales. Ask friends with employee discounts.

I get compliments pretty often from coworkers, and I think this is because I try to err on the side of the more menswear-inspired (and slightly obscure) labels. Most of my shirts are from Loro Piana, Brunello Cucinelli, or Luciano Barbera. I trust the Italians.

Dolce & Gabbana (though not D&G) makes the most professional wso/">suits. For skirts and pants, I'd recommend Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, Viktor & Rolf, Dries Van Noten, Ralph Lauren Collection.

For Friday casual, I hit up J Crew occasionally for various pieces, but their quality control has really gone downhill. Last month, I found a pair of amazing chinos from Zara for $35 bucks that definitely met (if not surpassed) J Crew standards.

For shoes: Manolo Blahnik, Tod's, Dolce & Gabbana, Giuseppe Zanotti, Ralph Lauren Collection. I don't really think most Louboutins are appropriate, and I find Jimmy Choos uncomfortable.

Last word of advice--find yourself a good tailor.

P.S. I just discovered tourmaline blowdryers recently. They will cut your blowdrying time by at least 30%, and your hair looks infinitely better.

P.S.S. I still have not been able to find a New York drycleaner that launders women's shirts for the same price as men's ($1.25). I know there was a research report published on this last year, but with no positive findings. Anyone? I am tired of paying quadruple the price guys pay, and my own ironing skills are not up to par.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Are you a CEO, CFO or other executive facing these or similar charges? Why should you go to jail for a crime someone else noticed?
  • 1
Jun 1, 2010 - 4:08pm

Will people notice? I think if you're a man, you'll be fine as long as you just blend in, and don't stick out for better or worse. As a girl, though, I think that since you've got a little more freedom, you've got more room to err. As long as you look professional, I don't think your boss (most likely male) will pay too much attention. Will they care? If the level of minutiae guys go into on this board over cufflinks and ties is any indicator, then yes. Even for the most austere MD, there will probably be some psychological impact on whether you get stuck in more paperwork or get to meet clients, etc.

I would worry less about my male co-workers (peers or superiors) and worry more about my female co-workers - they'll probably be a lot more judgmental either way. You don't want to be the bimbo who dresses too cute or the girl who is too out of it - again, just don't stick out. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules, just make sure you look put-together and professional and confident, and any personality you add in doesn't mess with how professional you would look to a client.

Whether or not cost is an issue, you should be focusing on fit, quality, and tailoring. To circumvent cost issues, hit the outlets or shop during sales. I personally hate button-downs, and avoid them as much as possible, so I'm not the best person to give you advice on that! I think the buttondowns I have are J Crew and Ralph Lauren, and either would be fine for the office, if that helps.

Jun 1, 2010 - 7:48pm

Dealem, I was thinking the same thing. I have very curly hair and was planning to get my hair done frequently and flat iron it the rest of the time. However, I decided it would be a better idea to just throw down a couple hundred bucks to get a Japanese Straight Perm. While I really liked my curls, the perm makes my hair a million times more manageable will save me a lot of time this summer when I start FT. You should look into it if you have very curly/unruly hair like mine (was).

Jun 1, 2010 - 11:25pm

nervous_nelly, I heard that the Japanese straightening actually hurts your hair in the long run. My cousin got that done and it looked really nice at first but now it sort of looks fried at the end and the roots grew out and look really bad. Have you heard anything about the Brazilian straightening system? Do you think it's really unprofessional to just wear your hair curly? I really don't want to permanently part with my curls :( lol

Jun 2, 2010 - 1:47am

I understand your apprehension. It was weird for me to be curl-free at first too. I'm actually still getting used to having a less full head of hair. And you are right. Like any chemical treatment, it damages your hair. However, I definitely don't have the wherewithal to fight with my hair on a daily basis before going to work. It would be too much of a burden. And an office environment isn't exactly a tie up in a messy ponytail and go kinda place either. While I don't think that curls are "unprofessional", I do think sleek, straight hair is more of a "banker" look. That's just my personal opinion though.

Dec 10, 2011 - 10:42pm

Just chiming in here because I was reading this thread for ideas and loved it.

+1 to gorilla4sandracing on everything, especially Theory wso/">suits. Theory is cheap and just bad quality. I wore them during both my SA positions in law school, because I was on a student budget and they are the best budget option for wso/">suits (IF you buy them on a great sale - otherwise they are hideously overpriced) that are almost stylish, but once you actually start working, you can do better than Theory. None of the women at my firm (the firm I will be joining, and was a summer associate at this past summer) wore Theory.

Club Monaco is also bad, IMO. Cheap fabric + not the best styles + way overpriced for the quality. You'd be better off with Zara.

I think that Anne Fontaine is fabulous for blouses. Save up your SA money and buy Italian wso/">suits, like Armani. European tailoring is better. And everyone should get a Gilt account.

Jan 2, 2013 - 1:07pm

I also just wanted to throw in that if you ever find a Nordstrom Rack I always get tons of BCBG and Theory outfits from there. Theory also has a lot of decently priced outlets (150 for a blazer crazy!)

Also wanted to note the Chanel E/W flap is probably too small for work AND...has been long discontinued :/

Aug 24, 2013 - 7:21pm

Is it inappropriate to wear higher end purses? I've never seen anyone wear Hermes, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, etc. where I interned, other than another intern who wore a monogrammed LV tote...

I carried a Longchamp this summer, it's alright, but it lacks structure.

Aug 30, 2016 - 3:44pm

I'm bumping this to get more updated info! I bought some of my interview outfits from Ann Taylor and Macy's. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions for moderately-priced women's button down shirts.

Sep 12, 2016 - 8:27am

Banana Republic used to be my go-to. They're stuff has gone a little downhill in the past year and a half (just a little, not a lot, maybe I've just grown tired of it).

A few tips / observations for women (note: I'm a 2nd year AN at a conservative MM in NY, and work in Tech Coverage):
--Personally, I'm not a huge fan of button downs, particularly in cotton. It's too equivalent to what men wear. And just because you work with a ton of dudes doesn't mean you have to dress like one.
--I haven't bought a suit in over a year since I started my FT position, but I highly recommend finding the pants / skirt suit combos. So you buy 3 items, but end up getting 2 suits out of it. I have a great one that's Calvin Klein. Ann Taylor, BR also has them too.
--Reason I haven't bought a new suit in over year is because honestly, I never them suits unless I know I'm going to a client meeting or something
--Working in tech, I've definitely shown up to client meetings in a suit and been over-dressed. Yes, better over-dressed than under-dressed, but sometimes I would have felt more comfortable in a dress + blazer (coordinated, but not a purchased set)
--The more dudes you work with, the more variety I think you can get away with. A lot of men I talked to admit they don't know much about women's business attire. Yeah they can know a skirt suit from a pants suit, but not much more.
--Lastly (and hopefully goes without saying) the one thing men WILL notice is if you're showing too much skin. So whatever you have, keep it covered.

My personal philosophy to work attire is that you should be thought of as "well dressed" without anyone really remembering what you wore yesterday. So generally that means muted colors, easy on the patterns, etc. You want to be remembered by the quality of your work, not the totally cute dress you wore yesterday.

Sep 12, 2016 - 8:48am

I never wear pant suits, simply because I think skirt suits look better. Don't wear peep toed shoes, definitely a no. I carried a nice black kate spade bag this summer and loved it. As for color of suits, I keep my wardrobe pretty much navy and gray.

Sep 13, 2016 - 12:58am

Wait until its 9 degrees in February, you might want to wear a pants suit then lol

I will say I'm definitely partial to pants when I know its going to be a long night so I can cross my legs ankle-over-ankle in my chair without having to worry.

And yeah bags like Kate Spade, Tory Burch, RL, etc are the most common (something in the $150-$400ish range seems appropriate for an analyst). Although if you just get some no name bag that's like $40 bucks at DSW no one will think anything of it as long as its nice-looking and conservative.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:07am

ke18sb is correct.

75% of the analysts there will be guys..and guys think with their dicks.

you don't understand how much being a hot chick is an advantage in the banking world (more so than many other professions)

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:09am

That sentence would have made a lot more sense, Ke18sb, if you'd said that someone couldn't "accept" reality. I had to stare at it for a second before I deciphered what you actually meant.

Ibanker257, I'm a girl, and I'm giving an info session tonight. (I've also attended more than my fair share of them.) I would suggest dressy business casual, which for girls is a little looser than for boys. Essentially, I would wear a suit but sans jacket (suit slacks or skirt with a blouse, sweater, or shell), professional or no jewelry, conservative makeup, business shoes (no sandals).

However, there were a couple of times when I couldn't be bothered to dress up and attended in my class clothes. I just made a point not to run up and speak to the recruiters so I wouldn't be remembered as the underdressed one. Remember, info sessions are primarily for you guys, not for us.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:11am

Can girls be fashionable at work without looking too flashy? (Originally Posted: 12/29/2006)

Can girls be fashionable at work without drawing too much attention or looking too flashy? Are females just stuck with suits/knee length skirts? What colors are acceptable and what aren't?

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:13am

My staffer is a woman and is incredibly fashionable, while being completely businesslike in her attire. If you think fashion means Louboutins, cashmeres, a funky belt, and a little Hermes up by the face, then you're good to go.

But if you think fashion means Armani Exchange, skirts that don't come to the knee, cleavage-baring blouses, sleeveless tops, hooker boots, and skinny pants... well... don't be surprised if people mistake you for one of the HR girls. Or a secretary. You just won't belong.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:15am

In my (admittedly limited) experience, girls can wear a lot less formal stuff and still get by in a business environment. This summer in Lehman, I used to see this female fellow intern, who regularly wore a jacket over a t-shirt (formal looking, but still a t shirt) and no one ever said anything, while us guys would have to wear the ties and coats (esp bad if waiting for a train in the subway - can get hot!). So I think girls have it easier that way. But I guess us guys don't have the option of appearing slutty, since the fashion choice is pretty obvious and limited, so it makes life easier for us that way! The universe balances itself out I guess.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:17am

Heh. With everything I discuss on this forum, I'd rather take the fifth when it comes to actual identifying characteristics. I'm sure you'll understand.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:21am

I'm amazed at how much discussion men have to figure out how to dress properly :-)

Women in IBD should keep things simple, yet classic. Not necessary to look like a man - i.e. sport only black, grey or blue suits. Skirts should be a respectable length, and jewelery and accessories tasteful. No loud, flashy colors or style.

Sidebar: women in banking should pay closer attention to how their hair style and nails reflect on their overall image. I've seen otherwise professional young ladies with beheveled hair or long nails that wreak of a "temptress" vs. a professional.

Generally, I think women have more latitude than men with style. A women can take a conservative grey suit and add an interesting deconstructed blouse underneath and pull it off. A woman can also wear something otherwise drab - e.g. black turtleneck and black pants and spice it up with the shoes, bag or accessory such as a fun scarf.

Unlike most men/women on the forum, I don't do well with Thomas Pink blouses. They're itchy and sleeves are always too long.

I'm at the point where I'm rarely in suits anymore. Example, today I'm wearing a light weight short sleeve turtleneck sweater. The sweater is longer than most so I've cinched it with a think black alligator belt and matched it with wide leg grey trousers. I have no jewelry other than my Bedat watch and small diamond hug earrings. The only thing unexpected is my shoes which are animal print cole haan ballet flats. A bit casual, but put together.

I pay super close attention to the fabric and cut of a blouse, jacket or pant and I'm willing to spend a little mroe on something that's classic. As far as where I shop, I go everywhere. I shop at Barneys, Saks and random, small boutiques. I do well at J. Crew for business casual.

I'm small framed so Italian labels such as Piazza Sempione and Akris work well for me. I also do well with Lida Baday's feminine edge on a woman's tailored suit. I also do well with simple black and white - e.g. crisp, classic white blouse from Anne Fontaine and black Theory wool trousers. I might toss a 31" chain with an amulet over the blouse, otherwise discrete on the jewelry.

  • 1
Sep 13, 2016 - 1:23am

one word to Craven, lame.

I agree with aadpepsi, no loud/flashy colors and pay more attention to cut and fabric.

Places I like:
1. Ralph Lauren (Black Label Shirts are the best.)
2. Thomas Pink (their shirts fit me)
3. Theory
4. Piazza Sempione
5. Saks/Neiman Marcus
6. Sisley
7. Banana Republic/Club Monaco (I find a cute item for Fridays every now and again.)

Stores that are great but don't work for me:
1. Brooks Brothers
2. Anne Fontaine
3. Faconable (sp? I can't remember at the moment)
4. MaxMara

In terms of jewelry, I always keep things understated. I stick to pearl studs.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:26am

Actually I'd suggest the opposite of the two previous posts. Given that a lot of people (especially females) put on weight after entering banking, I'd respectfully ask the ladies to please please not wear skirts (of any length) or tight clothes if you're even a pound over average weight for your height. I saw way too many pudgy female analysts pouring out of their clothes this summer...disgusting. At least fat men have to cover themselves up with a long-sleeve shirt and pants..women have more leeway, which is unfortunate for the "bigger" ones.

Also, wear real, normal heeled women's shoes - not those odd looking kitten heels or flats. There is nothing attractive about a women in kitten heels or flats...you don't need to wear 5 inch heels or anything, but at least wear heeled shoes of a normal height (3 inches looks good).

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:27am

Ah. And here we have a conflict. I believe the initial question was how to dress for banking, not how to dress for appealing to men. The two are actually not the same.

Ladies, wear flats if you want to. I don't, because I'm not a tall woman, but it's up to you. They are perfectly professional. As are kitten heels.

Also: "don't wear skirts if you're even a pound over average weight for your height"? Where does this come from? You know the statistically "average" woman is overweight, right? I think you probably meant to say this in a different way. Still, I'm curious as to what difference a single pound makes. This reminds me of the silly girls in college that thought that if they ate two cookies, their bodies would suddenly splurge out into Jabba-the-Hut shapes and stay that way forever.

At any rate, we should all understand that everyone has to look at things that people may find "disgusting". Is male-pattern baldness as "disgusting" as a girl with thick calves? Is a male gut pushing the shirt front out as "disgusting" as a female soft upper arm? While I definitely prefer looking at male models and Hollywood actresses to looking at bankers, I have to remember that banking tends to make people less attractive. I don't want to look at bald spots or bulging behinds or pimples, but such is life. We're all experiencing enough pain already -- to try to tell us we should all be beautiful plastic people on top of it all is just unconscionable.

  • 5
Sep 13, 2016 - 1:28am

By the way, in case anyone cares, here's a sample. (I'm probably dressed a little nicer than usual today, by the way.)

Yansi Fugel deconstructed black skirtsuit -- A-line skirt with soft flutter at hem, soft black notched-collar jacket with 3/4 length sleeves. Picked this up at Mark Shale a few years ago and it's always been one of my favorites.

Dark brown silk knit sleeveless shell (sleevelessness doesn't show under the jacket, of course).

Silver and freshwater pearl necklace (nothing special, cheap but not necessarily cheap-looking).

Sheer black tights

Black Ferragamo gancini pumps (vintage and a little too chunky for my tastes, but they're what I've got.)

I always liked Mark Shale because, after my first major purchase, I automatically got a personal shopper who knew my tastes and size and called whenever she got anything I would like. Before I would come in, she would even get the tailor to temporarily dart/tuck the jackets the way I like them so that when I tried them on, I could see how they'd look when they were finished for me.

Love the animal print ballet flats with the rest of your outfit, Aad. It's like the raised eyebrow that says, "You got a problem with this?"

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:30am

Ah. True enough. I suppose it depends on how sensitive you are to looking at fat. I come from a part of the country where people are pretty trashy, so I've seen a whole lot of dimply thighs, lime-green thongs on overlarge asses in see-through white shorts, and short-sleeved upper arms bigger than my thighs. I came up here and suddenly people were both thinner and more covered-up. So nothing's going to shock me; I can see a pair of red size-14 hot pants and shrug without a second thought. Those without exposure to trashy culture will understandably be more sensitive.

And yeah, I actually don't care about bald heads or big male guts either and don't find them disgusting in the least. I was just trying to find an appropriate analogy.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:35am

To be honest, I think when I'm dressed for work I'm not so much hot as I am sharp and slightly dour. This last is probably because I won't wear anything with prints, patterns, flowers, or any colors other than shades of black, white, or earth. My idea of "brightening up with an accessory" is adding a grey scarf to an otherwise all-black outfit.

My way of thinking is that if I'm going to have a job that makes me grim and bitter, I'm going to dress grim and bitter. One clearly can't do that as an older woman because it's too old-ladyish, but in one's twenties I think it has a certain sleek chill.

Also, it's tremendously cheap and easy. Everything matches.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:37am

is it acceptable to wear suits that aren't black/grey/navy? (i'm thinking white, beige, earth tones.)

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:38am
Also: "don't wear skirts if you're even a pound over average weight for your height"? Where does this come from? You know the statistically "average" woman is overweight, right? I think you probably meant to say this in a different way. Still, I'm curious as to what difference a single pound makes. This reminds me of the silly girls in college that thought that if they ate two cookies, their bodies would suddenly splurge out into Jabba-the-Hut shapes and stay that way forever.

Two words - slippery slope. Seriously, I've had a few girlfriends who thought that 'one cookie won't make me fat'..and another and another...until I had dumped them and was sr.wing their thinner roomates.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:43am

The best advice for women in I-banking it to get implants and starve yourselves so you're bursting out of that suit jacket wrapping around that size 4 waist. It'll detract from your premature aging and possible natural ugliness.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:44am

also, perhaps wear something tight enough to constantly remind the associates and vp's of nipple action, side boob action, and cameltoe. It will lead to a possible top notch promotion.

Perhaps even without giving an MD a "happy ending!"

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:45am

Not sure about the mix in gender on your teams for the other ladies...but when you work with an all male team I want to be looked at as a team mate not some office fluff, so I prefer pant suits. Hugo Boss has good selections for both skirt suits and pant suits in slim cut - very cool looking. The quality and price are reasonable. For heels nothing beats Ferragamo...perfect heel heights and very comfy.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:52am

I think as long as it's neat it's fine either way. If your hair is really long you might want to tie it up halfway if it'll get in your face while you're talking.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:53am

I did mine in a ponytail, but only because it's a mess otherwise. I was the only girl in the waiting area who wore my hair up.

If you have neat hair, wear it down. I read somewhere that interviewers prefer girls with their hair down. It's a softer and usually more attractive look.

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:55am

Wear your hair however you feel most comfortable. The only thing to worry about if you do wear it down is to be sure NOT play with if you get nervous.. But otherwise, up to you.

(Personal experience - back when I interviewed I always wore mine down, every woman that ever interviewed me had theirs down too)

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:56am

Women dressing too hot for IB? (Originally Posted: 02/15/2010)

So I have a sociology class called fashion and power and need the input of y'all, men and especially women in IB.

For women in investment banking, or in finance: what do you wear on a day-to-day basis to work? What brands do you usually wear and what accessories?

Also, what do you think is considered work-appropriate? I find many articles in fashion magazines relating to work outfits are not professional enough (or too pretty) for women who work in finance.

Do you find that sometimes you must dress down your best assets for work?

Do you find that other women judge you when you are dressed too pretty? Do you judge other women?

For men, what do you think when you see a woman dress to fashion/trendy/hot/slutty? Do you associate what they wear with their skills and abilities?

Thanks for all your help!

Sep 13, 2016 - 1:58am

Haha, why do I think this is a dude looking for picture of hot IB women in their outfits.

Just wear conservative outfits. You want to be judged based on your work not your "assets".

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:02am

i'm doing research for my paper for the class. i copy and pasted my question from another forum which is mostly women, and i realized that i shouldn't have asked to post pictures. that is kind of weird.

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:03am

In PR I expect women to be stylish, flashy. IB or anything banking for that matter I conservative nature. Look at Brooks Brothers. Classic, Conservative. You are dealing with money, peoples money. You want to be stoic, responsible.

If a woman is hot she will look hot in a burlap sack or a trendy dress.

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:04am

Anthony, I agree with what you are saying. Can you give examples of women who haven't stuck to this rule and dressed like their were in Fashion/PR? What was your opinion of her? What were the opinions of other people within the bank?

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:05am

I am speaking in generalities. Although I worked with a woman who was a close friend and she dressed very stylish and trendy. She was in sales/management. I thought she was great although a lot of the hate came from other women who dressed conservatively. I thought she was fine though.

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:06am

I saw on another topic that there are no "husky" girls in banking as women are hired because of how they look.

Do you find this contradictory as women cannot look too flashy and stylish, yet must be presentable (aka NOT "husky")?

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:07am

There was a thread talking about no fat people in general. Attributed it to their type A personality. Women and men are judged based on their looks.

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:11am

There was a girl with a nice rack and arse and she wore tight "business suits" all the time with a pretty reveaqling neckline on her blouses - she started pissing off all the female associates / vps - she left after her 2nd year

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:14am

Van Heusen (think they make Women's shirts)

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."
Sep 13, 2016 - 2:16am

Look for blogs on women's professional clothes. They can take you a lot further than nerdy bros in cubicles.

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:23am

I got a couple from Brooks Brothers at their semi-annual sale. What other brands make well tailored shirts that aren't super expensive?

Banana republic makes some decent non-iron shirts for around $70 or $80 but they constantly have 50% off those shirts in their stores. You should check it out.

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:25am

Teal dress, leather boots, and a black suit jacket say "confused" more than "business." A successful look I've seen is a black dress, black heels, and a gray wool blazer. Professional and simple.

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:29am

Interview Attire - Women's dress suit w/ matching blazer (instead of skirt suit) (Originally Posted: 09/06/2014)

I am planning to wear a dress suit rather than a skirt suit to a banking interview. The picture represents what I plan to wear (sleeves rolled down). Is this appropriate or should I buy a skirt suit instead?

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:30am

We can't see the length of the dress based on that picture, so it is effectively useless. With that said I'm picturing the last dress suit I saw and I made the wife take that shit back. If it resembles that disaster the answer is a resounding no. I've responded to a few of these threads so take this with more than a grain of salt. Wear pants or a skirt, not a dress. Unless of course your personal idol is Danielle Steel and you've had at least 3 cups of chamomile tea today.

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:34am

This does look a bit too boring and conventional. Professional is great, but as a woman, you do have a bit more leeway with accessories and such. There's just too much black here. You need some contrast. KK mentioned Jil Sander--Tahari is also good, Ellen Tracy, Theory...

Sep 13, 2016 - 2:35am

See I have a suit like that that I have successfully worn to interviews for investment banking jobs that I have gotten... I think the key would be to make sure that you wear a necklace and some earrings. I am on the more well endowed side of things and struggle with tops with skirt suits and have found that dresses eliminate the headache for me.

Would recommend tahari, ellen tracy, and would add talbots and shockingly jones new york which has some conservative non bank breaking suits (dont know what level you are but jil sander is outside my price range as a senior analyst / junior associate level individual)

Be careful with theory - sometimes their stuff looks too fashion forward / fits too snuggly. Also worth noting that I am now in houston texas doing energy banking and the theory look would not fly in any office I have worked in to date down here (I started in new york originally - and there were far more women and far more fashion going on there htan there is down here)

Aug 8, 2017 - 4:42pm

I totally agree, let's get this thread going!
Personally I have a few pairs of CK pants that I picked up at TJ Maxx which fit and look great. Which also bring me to the point of don't know TJ Maxx or Marshalls cause you never know what you'll find!

Personally, I love wearing loafers and have yet to find a good pair that is worthy for office use.
Any take on flats that are comfy and wont tear into your feet?

Oct 20, 2017 - 11:00am

Regarding loafers, just got a pair from J. Crew (academy loafers in black), they are amazing (italian fit, so quite narrow). Also got a pair from Sam Edelman which are a dupe for the Gucci Brixton loafers - very comfortable as they are well padded in the heel, although a slightly wider fit.

Also I have found the suiting and blouses at Massimo Dutti (they have one store in NYC, otherwise online store is your best bet) a great store for essentials, they are a company from Spain and quite popular in Europe in general - therefore from the stuff I have bought, definitely more tailored fit straight out of the store - also well priced, and much better quality than Theory in my opinion.

Oct 20, 2017 - 10:57am

Great suit options for women:

  1. Massimo Dutti
  2. Aritzia
  3. J. Crew (sometimes)

Definitely go for a wool suit over polyester. If you shop at the right places you won't have to compromise on price anyways.

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