Investment banker JP Morgan Chase has told its employees that they no longer have to wear a formal business suit and tie.
It has sent a memo to staff urging them to stay in step with the more relaxed sartorial tastes of their contemporary wealthy clients and technology entrepreneurs.
Breaking with decades of tradition, they can instead trade-in their pin-stripes for ‘business casual’ pullovers, polo-shirts and chinos. But they generally draw the line at ‘weekend casual’ wear of jeans and flip-flops. And for women, no halter tops.
‘Business casual is not weekend casual and if you are seeing a client you should dress for them, ‘ says the bank.
It raises the question of how far and how fast the automotive industry – arguably one of the last bastions of the suit and tie culture – should follow JP Morgan and other financial institutions down this collar-loosening road.
Much of the motor industry is still quite formal in matters of attire and is quite conservative in the fashion stakes. Why do firms insist on wearing a jacket and tie? Is it for conformity? Many people can be just as productive – if not more so – when dressed in a more relaxed manner.
So perhaps it’s time for the motor industry to loosen up too. Most importantly, it’s not enough just to pay lip-service to the occasional ‘dress down Friday’ or to ditch the ties. To be really effective in making a difference, firms have to change their whole culture – not just their staff’s wardrobes.