Women in finance

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  1. #1 Feb 8, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010

    I am a student doing a paper for my sociology class called Fashion and Power.

    For women in investment banking, or in finance: can you post some pictures of what you wear on a day-to-day basis?

    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? And men don't take you seriously?

    Thanks all for your input!! :biggrin::yahoo::P

  2. It depends. some bank require business formal, which means suit and tie for guys everyday. So for girls most of the time it will be jacket required at meetings and collared shirt otherwise.
    Skirt suits are more formal than pant suit, close toe shoes, skirts no higher than the tip of your finger when you put your arms down. those are some pretty standard tests for business formal.

    For some who work in business casual firms, normal day - to - day wear is a bit more flexible.

    It is a male dominated industry but IMO instead of trying to be like one of the guys, if a girl can she should always dress her best in a feminine way. First of all, it gives me a huge confidence boost when I'm looking my best and in my heels. Second, guys appreciate a girl who dresses well ( anywhere, especially in banking since attention to detail is a big deal ) and not to mention it's amazingly refreshing to see someone other than the usual suit and tie at work. Finally, dressing well (not necessarily flashy) is a presentation of confidence and power. (Nice tasteful watch, jewelry and shoes is similar to guys in terms of tie, watch, cuff links, metal pinned collar stays etc etc.)

    Most women I work with in the same industry either dress the same with no competing manner (and we compliment on each other's wardrobe) or they just dress like a J crew or banana republic catalogue, which to me is quite boring.

    No, i don't think i must dress down. There is appropriate clothing for work in terms over covering your body parts. That i assume applies in every profession. In terms of pushing the fashion evenlope in color, cut and style. I do what I can. Mondays are more formal than Tuesdays. Fridays can be a bit more fun than mid-week. If you have a meeting then definitely suit up. It depends on my mood.

    To be honest, I think there is a homefield advantage when it comes to girls in a guy's world. Because if you are pretty and dresses well, they will be even more impressed that you are also smart and a hard worker.

    The typical type A female banker boring skirt suit combo everyday is not the norm, i think it's just a stereotype.

    like i said, in terms of junior bankers, there are the fashion forward ones, the jcrew BR ones and the ones who work for banks that have business formal dress code which sucks big time.
  3. i work in finance. and i also work in boston.. double whammy in conservative dress.
    with that said- dress code is business casual. i wear dress pants and collared shirt or nice top. at times i do get a tad too casual but i try not to do it too often.

    in the winter times- a lot of girls get away w/wearing their uggs. or flipflops in the summer time. i will say- girls can get away w / dressing more casually than guys.

    what i see for work attire in fashion mags are a bit laughable. but i realize that it's not catered to those in finance.
    very rare will you find a female that really dresses well. the standard uniform is work pants and top. period. that's the standard. the culture is just so conservative. how i dress at work is very different than how i dress on the weekends.
    like laurayuki says- there are ways to dress feminine without being flashy.
    but im pretty lazy. lol. ive accepted that working in finance = being a corporate drone.
    i separate work from my personal life. so i never realy work myself up too much to dress exceptionally well. i only care to dress professionally.
  4. #4 Feb 8, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
    panda, how did piggy know she was going to see you in here? (^(oo)^)/"

    For women in investment banking, or in finance: can you post some pictures of what you wear on a day-to-day basis?

    here are some typical outfits i wore to the office (not for meetings; i wore business formal to those) as an analyst & associate covering the tech industry from SF:

    marciano blazer, bebe dress, christian louboutin no. prive slingbacks, louis vuitton epanoui bag

    armani exchange v-neck, armani exchange dress, christian louboutin rolando pump, cartier love necklace

    guess blazer, dolce & gabbana shell, j brand indigo skinny jeans (the senior guys were all at an offsite that day :P), versace booties, bottega veneta flower chain croc shoulder bag, chanel etoiles earrings

    guess dress, christian louboutin privatita ankle wrap peep toes, hermès ficelle lizard birkin, cartier love necklace (this was at night; there was a cream bolero that went with this outfit during the day, i swear! hehe)

    still, even suits don't have to be boring and drab; this suit from max azria atelier was one of my favourites for client meetings

    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?
    i find that in finance, girls have a TON more dress code leeway than guys do. as you can see above, there were even a couple of times where i got daring and wore (very very dark) indigo skinny jeans to work! this, however, is not advisable, please do as piggy says and not as she does! (^(oo)^)v

    i also agree with laurayuki's assessment that it's far more effective to dress attractively but modestly than to go with the drab & boring look.

    Do you find that other women judge you when you are dressed too pretty?
    i've found the women in banking generally split into three groups: there are the two laurayuki mentioned (fashionable vs. cookie-cutter) as well as a third group which i find most interesting and very relevant to your study's topic. there seems to be a small minority of women who have the idea that you can't be smart *and* pretty at the same time, that's it's sort of an either-or proposition. these are the girls who try to be "one of the guys," who hate wearing heels, use the same crass language they hear the men use, etc.

    these girls usually do not succeed. senior bankers typically find their tomboyishness off-putting, especially the male mannerisms . . . in fact I've had my MD & VP jokingly tell me (behind closed doors while waiting for a conference call to start) "get X to carry the books downstairs for you, she's practically a guy anyway!" this type of girl typically is very judgmental of the more stylish type, and will grumble that the pretty girls don't work as much, and they're always flitting around chatting with people. however, since the senior bankers don't care, why should we? :peace:

    And men don't take you seriously?
    when you work as many hours as bankers do, it's not possible to coast on the strength of good looks alone. when we get a new batch of analysts, we can generally rank them out by the end of the first 2 months or so.

    i actually think appearance matters less in banking than in some of the "softer" professions, since there are more concrete measures of assessment in finance: either the model ticks & ties or it doesn't; either the books are done on time or not, etc. if you do poor work, nobody will take you seriously no matter how you dress.

    on the other hand, if you rank at the top of your class every year, then being attractive & stylish is like a bonus asset. remember, most of the clients are men too; if they see a smart, pretty, competent female, they're going to find it pleasant to work with her, if only out of novelty! this was especially true in my industry, technology. i was the only analyst who had C-level clients ringing me up directly, which my MD & VP appreciated because it freed them up from playing middleman.

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  5. LOL yes i completely agree with piggy. do not try to play as one of the boys, because we are not!

    ^ plus when I was an analyst I can always get my VP or associate to carry the books for me ha(heels!), they are very considerate gentlemen ;)

    Being a pretty, stylish and smart girl in finance is definitely a killer combo for client facing interactions. example: client took the team to dinner after transaction didn't even close. or client send champagne greetings afterwards etc etc.
  6. woo woo panda! damn all piggy gets from clients is help requests, need to start wearing some double platforms like panda (^(oo)~)
  7. and then there's always the "i've just walked into preliminary M&A due diligence meeting with Client (potential acquiror) only to realise that the President & Co-Founder of the potential acquisition target hit on me on the airplane last year, and judging from his look of dawning recognition/embarassment, so has he . . . " type situations . . . . :sweatdrop:
  8. Finance cover a huge area... so depends on where, which business, how high up in the banking or finance ladder & what clients one is dealing with.

    Accountants with different business may have casual Fridays, or a tax filer for H&R block may work with a more relaxed code, even a bank chain manager can get away with a dress.

    BUT not me :sad:

    At least at my workplace, a wardrobe full of suits is a must (like what most news anchor and lawyers would wear, or all formal businesses)... I know my company do not do any casuals (not even a slide and most co-workers do keep another suit right in their office for the JICs "food stains & what nots") and even a little "evening-ish" peers would not like it... we do mostly business formals and are very "blah" looking.
    Could swing a fur coat (even men) for winter to work so long it is real.

    Loved piggy's suits & pics but would never work for where I am at... we are a "starchy" bunch.
  9. #9 Feb 9, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2010
    Thanks guys for all your input! Especially the pictures, misspiggy, they are amazing!

    I've also interned quite awhile at few of the bulge bracket investment banks, and I feel like women are always dressed very boring and very conservative! The most style I've seen is through accessorizing.

    For those of you who don't feel the need to dress down, do you find that there are certain people within the investment bank that discourages this? i.e. more senior women?

    In regards to what lolitakali said, do you think one's dress changes as one climbs up the ladder and becomes more senior? Do analysts get away with more leeway, or more senior women?

    Also, sorry for so many questions, what time of bank do you guys work (bulge bracket vs. boutique)? And what line of business are you in (for those who haven't specified)?
  10. #10 Feb 9, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2010
    Thanks so much for all your help! :smile:
  11. ^^ hmm
    Typical accountants = glasses with pocket calculators
    H&R block accountant = cilent interfacing probably boring men's wearhouse suits
    Corporate finance = depend on the company. Retail / luxury brand or hotels probably more fashion oriented than others
    Bank teller = Bank t shirt and khaki
    Investment Banker (with our HP calculators and Blackberries) = 1. fashionable chic (piggy and laurayuki) 2. Jcrew/banana republic 3. mansuits and chuncky heels
  12. I am in finance for a technology company. I also have a figure which is politely described as overblown/pudgy/curvy - my wardrobe:


    I know, AK dronewear. But the cut is essential. High quality materials, with a single button - double button if I'm feeling dull that day.
    I've retaliated by having a lot of fun with my camis and shells - all bright colours, most have ruffles or lace trim.
    Sometimes I'll take the jacket off.

    I wear heels every day - cute and fun, with no logos. If I'm being stogy with a 2 button suit - I wear peeptoes.

    Accents should always be subtle, and balanced.

    Always wear makeup. Don't tart yourself up - but don't forget a simple lipstick, mascara. Likewise with perfume.
    The other thing I've found to be essential - never neglect your nails.
  13. this is SO TRUE! one of those little things one might not think important, but always noticed by others! the state of someone's hands & nails really shows something about their personality . . .

    many of the male senior bankers were quite open about the fact that they would get their nails buffed at a spa or one of those upscale barbershops, so there's no excuse for women to neglect this simple aspect of personal care! :biggrin:
  14. I work in Boston which is very conservative and my clients are even more old-school and conservative. I prefer basic, tailored pieces from places like Theory coupled with simple silk blouses and heels no higher than 3.5 inches. Sounds terribly boring, I know ... but I would rather look polished and professional than stand out as fashionable, or even worse - sexy. Since it's really easy to look like a frump when being conservative, I try to shop in the contemporary department for cleaner-cut, "younger" looking coordinates.

    Since my clients are so conservative, I never wear open toe shoes or go sans-pantyhose during meetings, but whatever floats your client's boat, I guess.

    I've posted this before but this is one of my favorite basic skirt suits (a black/white tweed suit from Theory) with a black silk blouse.

    PS - totally agree with Vintage Leather about the nails. I keep mine short and manicured in a neutral color like Essie Pound Cake or Hard to Get.

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  15. Whoops! Didn't even answer the OP's questions.

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

    Not really, because like previous commentors said, there are plenty of ways to be chic without being revealing. I think my best assets are what's inside my head, and (as cheesy as this is) my smile. Clients always compliment me on my smile which I MUCH rather prefer than having to catch one staring at my butt or chest (which used to happen quite often when I wore tighter stuff to work).

    2. Do you find that other women judge you when you are dressed too pretty? And men don't take you seriously?

    I'm not sure about what other women think, but I have to admit I do judge when other women at work dress too hot or too trendy for work. When working in an environment full of starched shirts, suits, pantyhose and black shoes, I inadvertently single out women who make the workplace a fashion show (or wear too much makeup) and take them less seriously. Can't help it!