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15 July 2024

No more underwear rules? UBS changes much-mocked dress code

Photo shows business men standing in front of the UBS bank on Paradeplatz place in Zurich, Switzerland. (AP)


Swiss bank UBS AG is revising its dress code after getting roundly mocked for suggesting employees wear skin-colored underwear and avoid garlic breath.

The bank said Monday it is whittling down its 44-page style guide to a more modest booklet that will concentrate on how to impress customers with a polished presence and sense of Swiss precision and decorum.

"We're reviewing what is important to us," UBS spokesman Andreas Kern told The Associated Press.

The existing code tells female employees how to apply makeup, what kind of perfume to wear and what color stockings and lingerie are acceptable. It advises them not to show roots if they color their hair and to avoid black nail polish.

"You can extend the life of your knee socks and stockings by keeping your toenails trimmed and filed," UBS tells its female staff. "Always have a spare pair: stockings can be provisionally repaired with transparent nail polish and a bit of luck."

Men are told how to knot a tie as well as to get a haircut every month and avoid unruly beards and earrings.

Both sexes were advised to avoid garlic or onion breath.

"Glasses should always be kept clean," the code instructs. "On the one hand this gives you optimal vision, and on the other hand dirty glasses create an appearance of negligence."

The guidelines recommended skin-colored underwear for women and wristwatches for all to signal "trustworthiness and a serious concern for punctuality."

The guide prompted derision and disbelief when it first surfaced last month.

"People made fun of UBS," Kern told Swiss weekly Sonntag. "But it didn't cause any damage to our reputation."

He declined Monday to give specific examples of the dress-code revisions.

The bank, the largest in Switzerland, has a history of providing detailed advice for its employees. A handbook for bank trainees gives a country-by-country behavior guide.

In Russia, it tells employees to be prepared to hold your drink at business engagements and to "never reject an invitation to the sauna."

In the United States, "never criticize the President."

And in Latin America, "turning up before an appointment might even be considered rude."