In a time served weary sort of way, I thought I'd seen it all but the capacity of banks to surprise with their next folly should never really be underestimated.
Step forward UBS, and I promise I haven't seen anything like this in an adult life spent in either the Army or the City, with their "UBS Corporate Wear Dress Guide For Women and Men."
Oh I'm loving this. "Clothes make the man or the women, as the saying goes. People are primarily influenced by visual stimuli. The colour anthracite emits competence, warmth and seriousness; the perfection in a person's appearance to the outside world can create an atmosphere of internal tranquility and security." Well, thats where I've been going wrong all these years. There I was thinking that competence, service and integrity mattered when all the time I should just have been wearing anthracite.
Oh God help us, they're bloody serious,
"These guidelines are mandatory and apply to all persons employed by UBS who wear Corporate Wear at their place of work. Line managers are responsible for compliance with and monitoring the Corporate Wear appearance.
But hey, these guys are detail orientated and there are some wonderful nuggets of advice, (for men and women), who are sartorially challenged.
"When you are in corporate wear you must never wear the blouse or shirt too tight: no part of your bosum must be visible, as this would look vulgar."
"Flesh coloured underwear must be worn beneath a white blouse"
I guess the guys in capital markets must be in a real tizz about what to wear tomorrow now.......
Moving swiftly on, the guide then covers scarves, belts, shoes, jewelry, glasses, religious symbols and got to love the "visible tattoos / piercings or ankle chains are considered unfashionable and are not business like."
Obviously, most of us like to think that we have a passing familiarity with personal health and hygiene but the UBS experts feel their staff need a little more shepherding, "
"Hands that have not been cared for, or peeling or chipped nail varnish, create a clear impression of negligence regarding one’s personal appearance."
There was a time in the City when such an appearance might have been regarded as a result of a proper chap having spent the weekend in the garden, shooting or fishing.
On they go, driving a truck without brakes through the inner and personal considerations of their staff as they dress in the morning, (in a bloody hurry in my case, not at UBS obviously, lest the 06:15 by some miracle be on time and leave Platform 2 without me), with these gems from Nanny,
"The perfume you use must only be noticed at arm’s length or less by another person. Perfume, just like any deodorant, must never be over-applied. It is also advisable to change to different ones quite often so that your own sense of smell does not have a chance of getting too accustomed to a particular scent. That way, you will have a better idea of how much to apply."
"When your work involves customer contact, you must not smoke. In addition, avoid smoky restaurants and cafes during your lunch break. Avoid eating anything containing garlic or onions. Even chlorophyll tablets will do little to remedy the situation. Chewing gum may help to clean your teeth; but when you are with other people it can have an unpleasant impact."
................ I think we're getting some clues where this is going.... but here's another one for the capital markets guys....
"Your stockings must match the color of your Corporate Wear and must be plain. Tights or stockings that are of a slightly darker shade than a skirt or trousers will make your legs appear longer. During summer you may wear thin, skin-colored stockings with a skirt or trousers. If you do so, it is very important that you and your colleagues all dress the same. You must always wear dark stockings under a pair of trousers. If there is any disagreement on the color, your line manager will decide. A pair of tights must always be worn with a skirt, even during hot weather. You are not permitted to wear opaque stockings, mesh stockings or any stockings with a patterned or shiny surface or with any kind of decoration."
........... and on they drone on; frankly, at this point I'd be seething with contempt for whoever in the firm sanctioned paying for this dribble but scanning over the bit about suits, shirts and shoes for men we quickly drill down to the real culprits here...... guys at UBS I'm doing you a favour, I've uncovered the fifth columnists... check this out..
“The breast pocket of your shirt must be kept empty, apart from a ballpoint pen or badge.
In principle, a suit is not complete unless the shirt cuffs are visible – as far as possible avoid the “chic féderal“ look.
You must undo your tie completely each time you have worn it, and then either hang it up or coil it up loosely.
Never tuck the ends of your tie in the waist of your trousers.
When talking to a customer or anyone else, you must take off your sunglasses in order to maintain eye contact – never put your sunglasses on the top of your head.”
And the killer………………
“We recommend that you always wear a t-shirt: it looks better, is more hygienic and will contribute to your personal well-being.”
"Did you know that a smile is good for your circulation and will pump more blood and oxygen into your brain? This will, in turn, produce more happiness hormones."
Yes, I rather think that confirms the case for the prosecution. Sorry UBS guys; you're obviously being dressed by an American. Chin up now.................
Meanwhile let's hope this grand initiative will be just the thing shareholders have been waiting for to put some oomph behind the moribund share price........ (oops, no pun intended).