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People being ruled out of city jobs for wearing wrong colour shoes & ties

5th September 2016

Wearing brown shoes could affect your chances in an interview


According to a report by the Royal Holloway University of London and the University of Birmingham, the importance of wearing the right clothes when being interviewed for city jobs has never been more important.

Those going through the legal recruitment process will be keen to know that wearing brown shoes and “loud” ties were identified by some employers as no-go areas.

Instead it is safer for employees to wear more traditional clothing, especially if they are going for an interview in the city.

Speaking in an article on City A.M., the Social Mobility Commission, who commissioned the research, said, “Some still place as much importance on an individual’s comportment (speech, accent, dress and behaviour) as on their skills and qualifications.”

The brown shoes issue

The report, which primarily focused on jobs in the investment banking industry, delved deeper into the issue of wearing brown shoes to an interview.

It found that although the majority of continental Europe allows employees to wear brown shoes, British employees wearing brown shoes are considered unacceptable, unless they are “sufficiently senior”.

Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, added, “It is shocking, for example, that some investment bank managers still judge candidates on whether they wear brown shoes with a suit, rather on than their skills and potential.”

This is the latest clothes-related issue to come to the fore after it was revealed that a woman was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels earlier this year. The corporate receptionist was sent home from her job in London after refusing to wear high heels following being told to either go home without pay or to go out and buy heels that were between two to four inches high.

Following this incident a petition was set-up to allow women to wear flat shoes at work and in a short space of time had received 7,000 signatures of support.

Although dress codes vary between each law firm, no matter whether you are going for an in-house legal position or a secretarial job, it is recommended that you check whether there are any specific restrictions on clothes or shoes.

To get an idea, you can read our guide about dress codes for law firms.