Intern Dress Code, 1987

interns 2

Today Ivy Style Facebook group member and comment-leaver Marc Chevalier, known for his extensive collection of historical menswear images, dug up this shot of Wall Street interns in 1987, the age of Gordon Gekko.

The timing was perfect. Those of you who consume a lot of news no doubt saw a story last week that was widely covered. Seems one of those millennial college kids got a summer internship and didn’t like having to dress up for it. And what do you do in this era if you’re young and don’t like something your elders have imposed on you? Why, you start a petition to make them change their ways. The intern, along with the others who signed the petition, was promptly fired.

The libertarian site Reason weighed in on the story, wondering if the notion of college preparing you for the workforce has been entirely lost on the current generation.

The kids above were interning on Wall Street and were presumably budding young masters of the universe eager to look the part. But there’s also some pretty advanced stuff going on there, including a tab collar and suspenders that are likely properly attached, rather than a quick-fix, clip-on bastardized version of what the big boys were wearing.

I wonder where they are now? — CC


39 Comments on "Intern Dress Code, 1987"

  1. Blondbluey | July 7, 2016 at 6:07 pm |

    They are sitting on the 23 Wall Street steps of (at that time) Morgan Guaranty Trust Company. I worked there two Summers 1985 and 1986. Never recall any written dress code but remember following the unspoken rule of quiet suits and ties, even in the back office!

  2. what’s the madder?

  3. Take note of the USA made Wayfarers- sans the glaring RAY BAN logs with B&L lenses.

  4. Blondbluey | July 7, 2016 at 9:27 pm |

    Also note the p3 Savile Rows!

  5. carmelo pugliatti | July 7, 2016 at 9:39 pm |

    Gordon Gekko…I’ve always thought that Godon Gekko was dressed as a bookmaker of 1939.

  6. Shad M. Jeffrey II | July 7, 2016 at 10:11 pm |

    Croakies with a suit is certainly a bold call

  7. Marc Chevalier | July 7, 2016 at 10:50 pm |

    That tab collar’s proportions are as good as it gets.

  8. The braces look identical to a few pairs I had back then – Ferrel Reed for Nordstrom. They had great ties too. Each about $38 made in USA. Even if this age group does wear a suit today it looks like they borrowed their kid brother’s 9th grade confirmation suit – size: Youth Medium.

  9. The aristocratic sneer completes the look.

  10. Bags' Groove | July 8, 2016 at 3:01 am |

    With a reverential nod to Bruce, I hope. Authentic ancient English madder takes some beating, and the guy on the left looks like he might understand that.

  11. Fading Fast | July 8, 2016 at 7:47 am |

    The picture looks staged to me to the point that the photographer might have chosen the two best examples and had them wear their “most” Wall Street clothes for the picture. This doesn’t change any of the post’s points about times changing, the role of the intern, etc. It just appears to be a bit too good a picture to be casually snapped, IMHO.

  12. Croakies with a suit…these days he’d just look like he was at an SEC school graduation.

  13. Suspenders? Suspenders? Those are braces. The difference between suspenders and braces was (in those days) about $50 as I recall. 🙂

  14. “Braces” feels pretentious to me, like calling a sportcoat an “odd jacket.”

  15. Anonymous | July 8, 2016 at 11:34 am |

    Looks like 1987. Yellow foulard print ties and tab collars were very in style. I had a pair of those tortoise shell round hornrimmed glasses.

  16. Even back then, braces on interns were a bit much, sending a message of trying too hard.

    I think you have to mature in your job before you can put on the braces or cufflinks.


    Ralph Lauren, with his eye for detail, had this frame copied perfectly. Upper middle Preppies embraced it with gusto.

    Various aspects 80s style bastardized Heyday purism, and a lot of it was kitschy. One can’t expect too much of quantitative math majors who have no taste but plenty of $ to submit to the force of advertising. “Yes–uh…I’d like a BMW 5 series, a ‘Shore House’ at either Bay Head or Point Pleasant, and whatever the guy at Paul Stuart tells me I should buy.”

    Anybody remember the Heavy Tweed Jacket blog? I appreciated his take on the style in question because it served as a reminder that the 80s weren’t all bad. Sack suits, button downed oxfords, striped repp, tassel loafer, and natural shouldered blue blazers prevailed in certain circles.

    Even as a great many embraced “updated traditional” with gusto.

  18. I like “braces” because it saves a whole syllable’s worth of time! What’s sad is that I’m not kidding. Tempus fugit and whatnot…

  19. Old School | July 8, 2016 at 2:48 pm |

    If you want to play the game, you must play it according to the rules.

  20. Glancing at these pictures again, I am reminded the 80s are very much with us. Whether it has to do with the unintentional/unofficial codification by way of the OPH or something else, 80s yuppie/preppy has survived and thrived.

    Talking with a rising junior at a Southern liberal-arts college recently, he noted that the going day-to-day look among (the better) fraternity “bro’s” is OCBD or polo shirt, khakis (or khaki shorts), and gray New Balance running shoes (990 or 993). Topsiders or loafers for a more dressed up look. Khaki fit “isn’t hipster skinny” and hair is worn 1985ish long. And it’s funny how plastic frames–even larger round ones–have made a comeback.

    The 80s all over again.

  21. “Talking with a rising junior at a Southern liberal-arts college recently, he noted that the going day-to-day look among (the better) fraternity “bro’s” is OCBD or polo shirt, khakis (or khaki shorts), and gray New Balance running shoes (990 or 993). Topsiders or loafers for a more dressed up look. Khaki fit “isn’t hipster skinny” and hair is worn 1985ish long. And it’s funny how plastic frames–even larger round ones–have made a comeback.”
    Yep. I also went to a Southern liberal arts college, and it was the same in my day (2002-2006) and judging by the yearbooks and fraternity composites I saw while in school, it was the same pretty much the same since the ’80s, give or take the occasional fad worming its way into the wardrobe.

  22. @S.E. – it’s been that way at most of the 12 classic SEC schools for as long as I can remember, with only minor variations. Whatever other flaws may exists, it’s always nice to see this.

  23. I was in college in the mid-1980s (1983 to 1987), and I remember being excited to add to my collegiate wardrobe (khakis and grey flannels, blue blazers and tweed jackets, button-down shirts) what I considered to be clothing more exclusive to adults (worsted suits and broadcloth shirts with what Brooks then called a tennis collar). I would have been disappointed to be told that interns could wear jeans and sandals. Times change. But I will never consider Topsiders to be “dressed up.” They are casual shoes. You could wear them with trousers and a blazer, shirt and tie to many evening yacht club events. But that’s about it. As for suspenders or braces, I was taught not that you had to “earn” them but that suit trousers hang properly with them, because a belt bunches the fabric around the waist. And also that because you do not take off your jacket at work except in a bathroom stall, nobody will know you are wearing them. Again, times change.

  24. Rojo, you should expand on that and write a “tales from the new dawn” ’80s piece. We’re all out of twilight tales about the end of the heyday.

  25. Marc Chevalier | July 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm |

    This photo was taken only several months before the Crash of ’87, which was, to my mind, the end of an era.

  26. Was the crash right before Halloween? I remember the preppier guys at my high school came dressed as devastated stock traders. Or maybe that was the following year.

  27. Donald J. Trump | July 9, 2016 at 12:55 am |

    Widely covered? I guess I missed it. The newspapers I read were too busy covering murder, Brexit fallout, the elections and other things that actually matter.

  28. Anyone else wondering why, even in the full picture in @Grey Flannels link, there aren’t many people in the background?

    Although I haven’t been in New York City since 1968, I remember there were often more people on the street than in the background in this picture.

  29. @DJT

    Reason covered all those things, too.

  30. James Redhouse | July 9, 2016 at 11:07 am |

    If I’d been asked to put a date on that photo, I would have said 1967, rather than 1987.

  31. Marc Chevalier | July 9, 2016 at 2:39 pm |

    Few men (let alone teenagers) were wearing suspenders in 1967, though.

  32. Donald J. Trump | July 10, 2016 at 5:06 pm |


    It’s amazing that Reason would even care. Smarmy Nick Gillespie insists on making all television appearances dressed like an extra from “Grease.” Goofy Matt Welch is a little better, but seems to have borrowed his sense of fashion from Saul Goodman, jewel-toned shirts and all.

    Reason is a magazine for losers. Try my friends at Breitbart, except for the queer with the bad dye-job who thinks I’m his daddy.

  33. I remember the stock market crash of October 1987. I worked for an engineering company at that time, and one guy was just going crazy, calling his broker, etc. He was hysterical about how much money he lost. I made some comment, and he about took my head off.

    Back then, I wore to death a navy chalkstripe vested suit, The yellow foulard was very sharp, and I bought a replacement tie in the 1990’s. Funny, never wore the replacement tie much. Still in a tie case, waiting to be given to Goodwill on my passing.

    As far as the braces, I wore them occasionally. I recall buying a set of buttons with clips for wearing traditional braces on pants with no buttons. Keeping the button side out, no one knew the buttons were clipped, just looked like the brace buttons were sewed on the outside.

    I had three pairs of the RL glasses. I wore them into the 2000’s. The wife said they looked terrible with my strong prescription lenses.

    Those young fellows didn’t look happy.

  34. Blondbluey | July 11, 2016 at 10:07 am |

    In those days, people could hang out in front of what now are high target buildings. I especially remember guys smoking and leaning against the stock exchange frontage on Broad Street!

    I support the idea that this was styled for some fashion PR purposes since it is around the time of the ‘Wall Street’ film. Either that or they were Brooks clothing salesmen from the downtown branch?!

  35. Not the best quality picture, as it looks like something taken back in the 1960’s.

    Here’s a better one, which is more 1980’s Nikon SLR like.

  36. I started on Wall Street in the early 1980s, right out of Yale. Worked in a large commercial bank that actually was on Wall Street. Now its a condo. Started out in their corporate lending officers training program. There used to be lots of them in NYC back in the 1980s. Precursor to the intern trend or phenomenon. We had a uniform, and a rule book was distributed outlining what was acceptable and what was not. No shirt colors other than white or blue. Somber-colored suits and ties, and even sport jackets required if we worked on weekends. I’m not joking. As for braces or suspenders or whatever you want to call them, yet we wore them with a vengeance. I stopped wearing them in the 1990s when they started to look costumey and absurd, but I still have a couple sets in a drawer where they sit undisturbed. I can’t bring myself to toss them or given them to the Hospital Thrift Store. A couple weeks ago I attended a black tie party and pulled out my tux (yes, I still call it a tux even though I know that “dinner jacket” is preferred in some Anglophilic circles) and pondered hitching up the black suspenders I have for formal wear, but opted not to since they seemed archaic and pointless to me. But then my trousers kept slipping down opening a space between the waist and my cumberbund which made me realize that there’s a reason that suspenders make sense, at least under certain circumstances. That being said, I don’t plan to hitch up a set to my work suit trousers any time soon, at least not until I appear in a vaudeville review lampooning the IB where I’m (still) employed…for now. Reggie

  37. These two are now probably the ones that fired the petitioning interns. One can hope, anyway.

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