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How to dress on Wall Street (for women)

Wall Street, where men exceed women and where women were expected to dress as men if they were serious about getting anywhere at all. So how to dress on Wall Street is popular enough to make it to the top Google suggestions, but instead of catering to the men (there are enough guides for you out there) we cater to the aspiring women of Wall Street – the she wolves!

As an investment banker it is all the more important to look the part, and if you are young – to be taken seriously. Many a banks still have business formal as their dress code while a few allow business casual. So how do we set the rules to what to wear on Wall Street? We answer some FAQs. And we answer them according to what is generally worn in Wall Street circles. You can obviously choose to throw in some individuality, but stick to the classics mostly, especially if you are just starting it. Wall Street is conservative!

♠ What to wear to a new office?

Follow your boss. If you have a lady as your boss, great! If you don’t notice any woman in the senior positions at the same bank and you should have your rule book laid in front of you.

♠ Heels or flats?

Considering that you will be standing on your feet a lot, flats do make sense and a lot of Wall Streeters would swear by them. But heels – well nothing beats or replaces them really and if you don’t own a comfortable pair, you own nothing. Also, remember that if you are going for flats, keep them expensive and classy.

♠ How high should the heels be?

For the simple reason functional reason that you have to be in them whole day, high heels are not very suitable. Anything between 1-3” works both aesthetically and functionally.

♠ What color can I wear?

Lots of them and none of them. Depends on how you look at it. Black, grey, blue ( the navy and Oxford blue kinds) Beige, tan, blush pink, deep crimson, white, deep purple etc. The rule is nothing too flashy, especially for the major part of your ensemble. Maximum that could work is introducing color via a statement piece. Else, stick to the crisp basic colors, but believe us, you would be baffled by the possibilities even with those restrictions.

♠ Most important staples?

A black blazer (that some suggest keeping it handy in your big drawer), crisp button-downs and even some silk ones, a pair of well fitting trousers, a professional skirt suit that fits like a dream.

♠ What to wear on Fridays?

You will notice that DVF wrap dresses are a hit almost everywhere. Do check in with your bank’s culture on  Friday dressing though. But you can loosen up slightly with colors, prints and silhouettes on a Friday. So think wrap dresses, A-line Skirts and skipping the suit.

♠ Which bag should I carry?

You will see Long Champ totes being favored a lot on Wall Street. But to say, classic bags and cuts, with classic hardware are the best. The bags can get more aesthetic than functional on the ladder upwards but always remember if you are on the trading floor, you will have to shove your bag beneath someone else’s table. Can your bag take that? Also, remember that the less visible the branding, the better. So stay away from the loud LVs, they won’t cut here.

♠ Which jewelry pieces shall I invest in?

Stud earrings, pearl strings, thin necklace chains if any, rock rings and watches that look like a women’s . And all that is jewelry enough for a Wall Streeter woman.

♠ Why are Wall Streeters obsessed with bigger brands?

Investment bankers are obviously good with the maths. And as everyone knows, an expensive brand wears better and will last you longer than a cheaper version, so they definitely consider it more profitable!

♠ Cleavage or no cleavage?

It is needless to say that high sexuality in a conservative environment just takes attention away from your talent at work. So no cleavage is always a good way to go in such a setting.

♠ How much legs to show?

Again, do not play up the sexuality here as well. A length that you can comfortably stand and sit-in, and while you sit in it, the skirt should remain an inch or two below the mid-thigh. So knee – length, just above the knee, midi length are some wonderful options.

♠ Stockings or no stockings?

Now there is no general rule to this one but no stockings are generally acceptable in most of the Wall Street. But again, notice in your own bank for this answer.

♠ Ready to wear or tailored?

Now this will be the best advice out there. – nothing is truly ready-to-wear. Ask around (your dry cleaner for example) for a good tailor or seamstress. While working at Wall Street, you would often need your purchases altered to make them perfect.

♠ Capsule wardrobe for women on Wall Street

All of the above were words. Want some visual reference? Our stylists put together a capsule wardrobe for a Wall Street woman, mixing both budget and splurge-worthy items. This is truly how a standard Wall Street wardrobe may look like. So take a cue and shop away!

Printed Shirt • White Button Down • Silk Blouse • Stripe Shirt • Black Shirt • Bow Blouse

Pearl Earrings • Necklace • Pearl Necklace • Earrings

Flats • Black Flats • Kitten Heels • Sling back Pumps • Black Mid-heel

Printed Wrap Dress • Shift Dress • Navy Wrap dress

Beige Trousers • Pleated Skirt • Printed Trousers • Micro Check Skirt

Blazer • Skirt Suit • Cardigan • Suit

Tote • Scarf • Handbag

So now that you know exactly what to wear and hence can concentrate on the real work, ready to take over wall street? Go girl!


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