My Latest on the New York Observer…

Wall Street’s Toned Down Style

Why financiers feel the fashion pinch

By Randi Newton | 08/19/14 10:18am

For many years, brokerage firm executive Robert Kay suited up, Wolf of Wall Street-style in brightly colored, white collared shirts, an OTT statement watch and a vivid tie. Going even further back in time, Mr. Kay’s favorite icon was Gordon Gekko, portrayed by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. The Gekko look became the style blueprint for high-powered hedgefunders, bankers and brokers before the financial Big Bang of 2008. A gaze down Wall Street at lunchtime back in the naughties revealed a vision of snappy tailoring and shiny fabrics dotted amongst the grey and navy suits. Now the scene is all single-breasted, two-buttoned gray and navy.

“If you see the sequel to the film, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, that’s a pretty good indicator of what’s going on,” Mr. Kay told the Observer, his once-daring look of perhaps a purple and lilac striped shirt with matching tie, worn beneath a pale gray three-piece in pure silk, laid to rest. Mr. Kay traded in his colorful pinstripes and jaunty cuts for a more subdued, but refined way of dressing.

“Dressing down is now the way to move up in finance,” he added. Newcomers into the money industries with even the slightest hint of flamboyant taste are being encouraged to tone down their attire. Veterans such as Mr. Kay are still adapting. They are recognizing that a muted, top-quality fabric, dark gray suit serves far better than shiny waistcoats and fat statement watches peeping out from sparkling cuff-linked cuffs.

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