No Garlic Or Bowties: UBS Releases 43-Page Dress Code

UPDATE: The company has updated it’s dress code because we made fun of them and plans to release a more “modest” version of it soon. Yay, the power of the Internet! Details here.


We understand that every business has the right to establish certain codes of conduct and dress — we here at Styleite have a very strict no Crocs policy — but the 43-page dress code just issued to a handful of Union Bank of Switzerland employees seems a touch, uh, crazy.

The guide covers everything imaginable — and we do mean everything. There are rules you’d expect, most of which are concerned with the desire for employees to always appear clean and professional. And then there are the rules that get a little too close to home, like the one about only wearing underwear that matches your skin tone and applying fragrance as soon as you get out of the shower, and not a second thereafter.

Women are allowed to wear exactly seven jewels — any more and they’d appear too fussy. They also can’t wear new shoes, and their skirts should hit the middle of the knee exactly. Should a hemline fall lower than 5 centimeters below the knee joint, someone might get in trouble. Men’s fingernails can’t be any longer than 1.5 millimeters long, and guys aren’t supposed to dye their hair, no matter how concerned they might be about premature grays. They’re also not supposed to knot their ties in shapes that don’t match the “morphology of the face” (and unless your face is shaped like a gothic cathedral, we’re not sure what that means). Also: no one can eat garlic or onions. Ever.

All of them are served up with dictums that might as well be seen in 50s-era copies of Woman’s Day. Per The Wall Street Journal:

“Light makeup consisting of foundation, mascara and discreet lipstick … will enhance your personality,” the code says, while advising women not to wear black nail polish and nail art.

The hair-care section notes studies have shown that properly cared-for hair and a stylish haircut “increase an individual’s popularity.”

We’re going to hazard the guess that there’s nothing lost in translation and that these guidelines really are just bonkers. The rules above — and the 40 other pages of them — were initially designed to help temporary employees who might not have worked in a high powered banking environment before coming to UBS look professional. But now the rulebook is being tested at five or six of UBS’s retail banks in Switzerland. Depending on how well this little sartorial experiment goes, it might be implemented worldwide, sapping the style right out of the work week of thousands of poor people who just want to pay their car notes on time.

The rules are Draconian and totally anti-personal style. Still, we guess it’s not the worse thing that’s ever happened in a corporate environment.

Dress to Impress, UBS Tells Staff [The Wall Street Journal]
For UBS bankers, a head-to-toe style guide as precise as a Swiss watch [The Christian Science Monitor]
UBS staff dress to impress Swiss retail clients [Reuters]

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