If you’re contemplating a move from London to Frankfurt, you might think you’ll be able to get away with dressing in the same way. After all, the banking industry is fairly homogenous across Europe and bankers in the two cities might be expected to dress similarly.
The Frankfurt dress code is very different to London’s. What’s normal in London will be looked at askance in Germany.
1. There are very few tailored shirts in Frankfurt
OK, plenty of London bankers buy shirts in bulk at TM Lewin, but there are also those who buy affordable tailored shirts in Jermyn Street. In Frankfurt, tailored shirts are rare. Instead, most German bankers get shirts from shops like Olymp, Eterna or Seidensticker. The quality of the fabric isn’t great, but everyone wears them and if you do too, you’ll fit in.
2. No one in Frankfurt wears braces (suspenders in America)
If you’ve seen the Wall Street film, you might be one of those bankers who likes to wear red braces/suspenders. Don’t do this in Germany. This trend hasn’t hit Frankfurt. In Frankfurt, bankers wear belts.
3. Bankers in Frankfurt don’t do colourful socks
Germany might be home to the prestigious Falke sock brand, but this doesn’t mean German bankers wear pink and green socks like their counterparts in London do. In Germany, you wear black socks. Stick to this rule unless you want people to look at your ankles.
4. Avoid double monk strap shoes
London bankers love their double monk strap dress shoes. Some German bankers are catching onto this, but not many. If you want to blend in, stick to something more conservative, like the classic Oxford shoe.
5. Get yourself a fancy watch
Watches are out in London banking circles, especially among juniors. In Frankfurt, however, even analysts are judged by the ornamentation on their wrists. I’ve seen first year analysts with Rolex Submariners (sometimes called, “the Analyst watch”). This is usually bought with the signing bonus, with your first bonus after being promoted to Analyst two, or imparted as a graduation gift by rich parents. In London, understatement is chic – the most you’ll see is an Apple watch, typically in a childish colour like blue, green, violet or red.
6. But revert to the trusted classics on casual Fridays
If there are discrepancies between London and Frankfurt on most days of the week, there’s more homogeneity on so-called “casual Fridays,” when male bankers everywhere seem to dress the same. In Frankfurt, like London, you’ll need to get yourself a pair of branded loafers or Timberland boat shoes, some branded chinos and a nice shirt (preferably from Ralph Lauren) with cuff links. Equipped with all this, you’ll fit just as well into Fressgass as Canada Square.
Alex Bergen graduated from the University of Mannheim and Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. He worked as an analyst in investment banking in London and now works as an M&A professional in corporate development in London. Prior to that, he gained investment banking working experience in London and Frankfurt. Alex is now dedicating his time to sharing career advice via the ‘M&Academy’ platform, where he discusses how to get into M&A, ECM, corporate development, private equity and leveraged finance. You can visit his Facebook page, FastTrackForYourFinanceJob, here.
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