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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

New dress code horrifies investment bankers

Claran Griffin | Lifesize | Getty Images

You wake up on a Friday afternoon still a bit hungover from a colleague's bon voyage party. He's either going to a hedge fund or an internet start-up. Someone said it's actually a coffee start-up. Or maybe a coffee hedge fund. You forget.

It's Friday but you suit up anyway. Casual Friday had its moment in the early oughts but faded sometime just before the financial crisis. You're glad. You never looked that good in khakis and a polo shirt anyway.

So while you trudge off for the subway, you pass some kid in sneakers, blue jeans, a T-shirt and a hoodie. Another damn start-up kid who can afford to cab it to work instead of taking the subway like a normal human being. Or maybe he works for Google or Facebook.

Guess what? You could be wrong.

 Where is Dick Fuld five years after Lehman?
Where is Dick Fuld five years after Lehman?

He might work for Barclays. The bank has recently put in place a policy of supercasual Fridays. Jeans, T-shirts and even sneakers are acceptable on Fridays, according to people who work for the bank (and spoke on the condition of anonymity because banks keep everything top secret, even stuff like the rules of permissible footwear).

The idea, apparently, is to make Barclays a better, cooler place to work. It's one of a number of initiatives the company is taking to make employees enjoy their workplace more.

(See also: Wall Street now has it's own Long Island Princess)

Not everyone is thrilled. In particular, some of the holdovers from the Lehman Brothers days are dismayed. One former Lehmanite expressed distress at the idea of going to work in sneakers.

"I didn't become an investment banker to dress like a perpetual teenager," one Lehman vet said.

"It's ridiculous. Please make them stop," said another. "It's like working at a start-up but without the IPO."

Former Lehman CEO Dick Fuld is probably rolling over in his Idaho hideaway.

"It's a complete slap in the face to Erin Callan's personal shopper at Bergdorf," one former Lehmanite at Barclays said. (Callan was the notoriously well-dressed CFO in the months leading up to Lehman's collapse.)

A spokesperson for Barclays declined to comment about the policy or about what she was wearing as spoke to her.

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