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In the City of London, it’s the ultimate sartorial faux pas. “Never wear brown in town,” runs the adage about what shoes the gentlemen of London’s financial district must eschew in order to escape the opprobrium of colleagues.

This unwritten rule works to the disadvantage of people from less affluent backgrounds, according to a study by the government’s social mobility commission.

The commission found that graduates with first-class degrees from elite universities are being “locked out” from jobs in investment banking if they commit the cardinal sin of wearing brown shoes. The same goes for those who appear uncomfortable in a suit, wear a loud tie, or lack esoteric qualities such as “polish” or “aura”.

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According to the report, catchily titled Socio-Economic Diversity in Life Sciences and Investment Banking such rigid criteria have “set up barriers for individuals from non-privileged backgrounds”.

Leadenhall Market, in the heart of the City, is where hundreds of financial hotshots spend their lunch breaks, grabbing gourmet sandwiches from a clutch of hole-in-the-wall cafes or sinking pints of lager in one of its historic pubs.

“Brown in town isn’t done, it’s just sartorially wrong,” says Mark Baker, who works with many financial services firms for IT company IPsoft. “The guys in Savile Row would turn in their graves. It’s important to dress appropriately based on the clients you work with.”

Jason Meyers, 43, whose design and construction firm counts several financial services companies among its clients, is aware of the rulebook but isn’t a fan. Referring to a pair of high-end shoemakers, he says: “If you work in insurance they won’t let you through the door of [insurance market] Lloyd’s of London without a pair of black Church’s or Cheaneys.”

“I’ll put on my black shoes if I’m meeting a client in finance or insurance. You’re looked at like a bit of a spiv if not.”… Full story : www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/02/city-of-london-dress-code-brown-shoes-finance

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