If you're a 20-something male and you've successfully navigated the investment banking recruitment process, then well done. However, your journey to banking assimilation is not over yet. If you are to become a true banking chad/hardo you will also need the appropriate footwear.
The appropriate footwear is the black loafer. Loafers in banking are also referred to as "deal sleds."
"The Wall Street dress code has relaxed, but there's still an expectation of conformity," says Patrick Kenger, a personal stylist at Pivot Image Consulting, who works with clients in financial services. "Designer brands are important on Wall Street," he adds; but they need to be the right brands if you're to signal membership of the club: "The uniform that's inherent to Wall Street is the Gucci loafer."
Gucci loafers don't come cheap, though, and like watches it's possible to overreach by turning up in a pair when you're an intern on the first rung of the ladder. "The brand you choose for your loafer should depend on where you're at in your career," says Kenger. "You're trying to work your way up. You don't want to flaunt it."
Irrespective of brand, Kenger also has advice on styles. You can get a horsebit loafer, a penny loafer, a tassel loafer or a driver loafer, but if you're trying to ingratiate yourself with bankers, there's only one style you really want to go for. "The one we see all the time on Wall Street is the horsebit," Kenger says. Penny loafers can be acceptable too.
Loafers are intended to be worn without socks, but Kenger says ankle-flesh isn't necessarily appropriate in a business setting. Ideally, you should therefore pair your loafers with merino wool socks in a shade that echoes an element in the rest of your look. Loud socks are best avoided. "The more you try to stand out, the more you can rub people up the wrong way," says Kenger. "You want to play the middle ground. For a long time guys were using socks as a crutch – the rest of their outfit wouldn't be put together, and then they would be like, 'I have socks with smiley faces!'"
For the same reason, your loafers should be black, although over time Kenger says you could experiment with dark brown. Tan is not advisable. Ignore the loafers in the photo at the top of this article and see below.
As you progress up the banking hierarchy, Kenger suggests you climb the loafer hierarchy too. Below are his suggested deal sleds by job title. As with watches and handbags, a mismatch can be problematic. You don't want to get ahead of yourself.
The analyst loafer
For your entry-level loafer, you could choose Weejuns by G.H. Bass & Co. Costing around $224, they're a solid starter shoe. "These are the quintessential affordable loafer range, and the starting point for a lot of guys," says Kenger. "If you're just getting started, they're the best way to go."
The associate loafer
One notch up, you could try penny loafers from Grant Stone (cost $288).
The VP loafer
Once you're a VP in an investment bank, Kenger suggests you can trade-up. You might want to go for the Allen Edmond loafer (cost $477).
The MD loafer
Once you've made it to the top of banking there are only two brands of loafer to wear.
The Gucci horsebit loafer (cost $784).
The Ferragamo loafer (cost $1.1k).
"Ferragamo and Gucci loafers are the Wall Street staples," says Kenger. You don't have to wait until you're an MD, but you do need to wait a bit. "Once you get to a place where you feel comfortable wearing these loafers then go ahead. If you're wearing them because you love the product, then that's ok," Kenger advises.
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