When we were preparing for our move, we tried to learn as much as we could about Switzerland. We heard that they are pretty conservative and rule based. We’d also heard that the way of doing business and the work environment would probably be different than we were used to in the US. Nevertheless, we were surprised to hear UBS, a large Swiss bank, issued a banking giant UBS a 44-page dress code (a couple of years ago). At 44 pages, it is (not surprisingly) quite detailed. Staff was expected to:
- Wear suits in dark grey, black or navy blue
- Keep their jacket buttons closed. When seated, they must always be open. While on the subject of jackets, they were also required to completely cover employee’s rear (not a good look for a shorty like me).
- Black knee-high socks were preferred.
- Female staff’s skirts should reach the middle of the knee…
- Underwear was supposed to be of good quality, easily washable and undetectable. How exactly did they plan on ensuring this?
- Trendy spectacles were forbidden. While at it, the color of the metal on your glasses should match the color of your jewelry.
- Men were not to wear bracelets or earrings, since this is Switzerland wearing wristwatches was encouraged… as long as it didn’t threaten safety.
- Women were not to wear black nail polish or nail art… it has only become more popular since the probation was issued.
- Men were not to have stubble or excessive facial hair
- Men were from covering their grey with hair color
It also had other advice on a variety of subjects including”
- Don’t eat garlic or onions to avoid bad breath
- How to wear your scarf
- When to apply perfume
- The importance of well-trimmed and filed toenails.
- Skin-colored underwear is recommended
- Do not put much of anything in your jacket pockets to avoid deforming them
- My favorite advises employees to neother wash, nor iron their shirts themselves.
UBS may sound familiar because it has been in the news when it was bailed out in 2008 (after losing around 21 billion Swiss Francs) and for its long running battle with US tax authorities. Perhaps the tomeic dress code was an attempt to improve its image. It has since been somewhat revised. Although when I go into a UBS, I don’t see much color…