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For UBS bankers, a head-to-toe style guide as precise as a Swiss watch

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The Zurich-based UBS bank wants to ensure that its Swiss employees never top any list of the sartorially sloppy.

A new UBS dress code that was published in the Swiss media – and picked up today in France to great amusement in Paris – outlines dozens of pages of personal appearance management that's more fine-tuned than a Swiss watch.

The regulations designate a 1.5 millimeter maximum fingernail length for men, suggests that female bankers wear makeup and put on perfume directly after showering and not after lunch, advocates that shoes be changed daily to bring greater levels of “peace and serenity,” and mandates employee underwear that is skin-toned and “always made of superior quality textiles.”

And that’s just the beginning.

The Swiss bank is pioneering its precision dress code in six pilot projects designed for employees that deal with the public in order to project “truth, clarity …respect … our values and culture.”

The dress-for-banking-success manual is broken down into tips and guidance and includes chapters titled, “Shoes and Belts,” “Blouses,” “Personal Touch” (jewels and makeup), “The Suit,” and “The Shirt.”

Men should don footgear with a shoehorn; women should not wear new shoes. Suits must not only be charcoal grey, black, or dark blue, but dress coats must always be buttoned when employees stand, and open when sitting. Skirts must reach the middle of the knee with a tolerance for extending 5 centimeters below the joint.

Stockings that are "opaque" are out. Socks? Always black. Women may wear no more than seven jewels, men three. Scarves are compulsory, and to be tied with “authorized knots.”

The Paris online daily Rue 89 deemed the project “surreal” – and got some comedy-mileage out of a management-designated underwear color. The French don’t mind dressing up when it is needed; just don’t tell them to.

The Geneva-based Le Temps quotes a Swiss lawyer to the effect that, "The UBS document goes to such a degree of detail as to what the employee must wear that his dress could almost be considered as a work tool, and the employer could then have to pay for it."

Actually, UBS says it is in fact coughing up some cash for the pilot project, but isn’t saying how much.


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