A Tale of Two Dress Codes

J.P. Morgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, is now allowing employees to wear business-casual attire on most occasions.

The decision is a major change for a Wall Street bank, an industry that has typically required men and women to wear suits. The move is seen as a way to compete for talent with technology firms, like Google and Facebook, and hedge funds, where the dress codes are more relaxed.

The memo announcing the change spells out what is and isn’t considered business casual, as well as what the consequences are for violating the dress code (the employee can be asked to leave, change clothes, or be subject to disciplinary action “up to and including termination of employment.”) There is also an online quiz you can take to see how well you know business casual.

But even when the policies seem to be fairly clear, there can still be some confusion as to what is acceptable in certain situations..

And this week, such confusion led to a faux-pas by a well-known public figure.

Prince Harry, in a meeting with D-Day veterans in England on Thursday, was apparently underdressed, wearing an blue suit and open shirt, but no tie. One of the veterans, 91-year-old Ivor Anderson couldn’t help but say something to Prince Harry, asking him,”Where’s your tie? Come on, get your bloody tie on.”

The 31-year-old handled the situation like a pro, responding, “I know. I was told not to wear a tie and then you’re all wearing ties. I’m under-dressed.”

I wonder if the Prince will face any consequences for violating the Royal dress code

So what’s a guy to do? It may seem like the way to protect yourself in any situation is to always wear formal business attire. But I don’t think that always works either.

I was just at a meeting last week where I wasn’t quite sure what to wear, so I opted to wear a suit and tie. Well I showed up at the meeting, and not only was I the only person with a tie, I was also the only person with a dress shirt on. Many of the men at the meeting were wearing t-shirts and jeans. I quickly removed my tie, and made a mental note to myself to wear something more appropriate at the next meeting.

So it’s a brave new world out there for us guys, but one thing you can be sure of, you’ll never catch me dressing like this.

wsj_mens_fashion2

The less-strict suit needn’t look like a costume from the film ‘Wall Street.’ This version has a casual, sporty feel. Caravan Jacket, $1,985, and Pants, $885, Marc Jacobs, 212-343-1490; Sweater, $250, A.P.C., 212-755-2523; Adidas Originals Stan Smith Shoes, $75, adidas.com” Total cost: $3,195

 

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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