Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 12:45 UK

Bashful bankers 'shun pinstripes'

By Harriet Oliver
Business reporter, BBC News

The latest casualty of the recession is the pinstripe suit, according to London's top tailors.

Pinstripe suit in tailor's shop
Is the traditional pinstripe now an endangered species?

Members of the Savile Row Bespoke Association say customers are opting for conservative styles, with bold designs and brash stripes falling out of favour.

John Hitchcock, managing director of Anderson and Sheppard, has been in the business for 40 years.

Although it feels as though time has stood still in his beautiful wood-panelled London shop, he has noticed a change.

"Stripes are more difficult to wear, especially if you're only going to buy one suit," he says.

His customers often choose a plain suit, or a linen one, which they can wear outside the office.

Armageddon men?

But it's not just about choosing a versatile style, says author and style writer Nick Foulkes: "People don't want to be identified as bankers, because bankers are now seen as wreaking havoc and Armageddon."

Even so, he is not put off by the image when choosing his own clothes, even though he confesses to being the only man wearing pinstripes at a recent business lunch in London.

It's a similar picture outside the capital, according to James Michelsberg of Michelsberg Tailoring in Leeds.

"There are still star performers in the financial services community that continue to earn big bonuses despite the crunch," he says.

But Mr Michelsberg agrees that they avoid large stripes and patterns, as they "don't want to flaunt the fact that they continue to spend a lot of money on bespoke suits, when those lower down the business have had their bonuses frozen".

The irony, says Nick Foulkes, is that multi-million pound hedge fund managers have always been more likely to wear jeans.

"They see themselves as financial artists rather than workers, so they love to wear creative garb," he adds.

Mr Michelsberg thinks it is a shame that fashions are changing. He says: "Personally, I love pinstripes. I think they look very dapper, yet are still elegant and understated."

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