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Suits you sir!

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It’s very confusing these days. I turned up at a conference recently in a suit and tie and no one, literally no one, was wearing a suit or tie. No one had told me the dress code either, so I grinned and bared it. Then I got to another meeting today where the audience were all in suits and ties, and I had worn jeans and a t-shirt. Pffft.

It reminded me of one very embarrassing moment in life where I went to the Bayreuth Festival, an incredibly upmarket deal where you get to visit the home of Wagner’s opera in the opera house he built. I had been invited as a VIP by the choreographer of the ballet company performing as part of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and, unbeknownst to me, he had given me a ticket in what had originally been Hitler’s Box. Yes, the box with the best view of the performance.

At the time, I was a laid-back opera fan – I hadn’t been to many – but took the ticket as I was told they are like gold dust. People wait ten years or more on the list to get selected in the lottery ballot to get a seat so being invited was being like given a ticket to the best seat at the Champions League final. So yes, I took it and went.

Arriving at the opera house on a balmy summer’s evening, I immediately knew something was wrong. Every single man was wearing a dinner jacket and bow tie. Here was yours truly in his best beige summer suit and brown shoes. It didn’t really fit.

Anyway, I couldn’t do anything about it so you just bluff it in the end, and show immense confidence in your own arrogance. I took my seat and could see everyone whispering and turning their heads around to see who the dignitary was in Hitler’s Box who couldn’t even be bothered to wear a DJ. I just looked snobbily down on them all and waited for the performance to start and, when it did, the matter was forgotten … until I met my friend who got me the ticket, who spent the rest of the evening laughing hilariously at the beige suited VIP.

Dress code is important. As is language.

For a long time, and for much of the time, I avoid putting swear words into my blog entries. They are unnecessary. And yet, more and more, I see such words appearing in other people’s work. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m just getting too old, but there’s such a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate.

A fine line between when to wear jeans and when to wear a tie; a fine line between saying it’s terribly bad or it is crap.

The problem is that this line is being crossed regularly as Fin and Tech come together. I’ve referenced this several times before:

But I raise it now, just to put in context that there are times when it is appropriate to wear a suit and tie and not swear, and other times when it is appropriate not to wear a suit and tie and to swear. We just need better distinctions and directions of when to expect each situation please.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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