It is often said that appearances matter - but one law firm has now told staff they can ditch sharp suits in the office and instead dress in a way that will “bring your personality to work”.
Vardags, a divorce and family law firm, believes suits and ties have become “the domain of bankers and estate agents”.
It has instead urged its 120 staff to dress as if they are attending Annabel’s, the exclusive private members' club in Mayfair, London, that is frequented by the rich and famous.
Gone is the requirement for office formalwear, with staff at the company’s London, Manchester and Cambridge offices encouraged to wear whatever they like as long as it is “elegant”.
That means an electric-blue sequinned jacket, gold leather trousers and scarlet Doc Martin boots are permitted attire - except when appearing in court, of course.
“We’ll move on to a dress code more like Annabel’s - the essence being elegance,” a memo sent to staff on Wednesday said.
Ayesha Vardag, founder of the firm that specialises in high net worth cases, told staff that the new dress code encourages them to “bring your personality to work” and “be as wildly fabulous as you feel”.
She added: “Times change and Vardags keeps moving - there was a time for our dress code with double cuffs and cufflinks, formal dark suits and jackets.
“But now business suits are so much the domain of bankers and estate agents that they’re eschewed by some of the funkier London clubs.
“Still formal, still absolutely top-end and appropriate to the luxury market with which we engage, not undermining your gravitas as a professional, but you don’t have to wear ties, you can still wear your suits if you like (and probably need to for court, more or less) but day to day if you fancy an electric-blue sequinned jacket and gold leather trousers, if you want pink hair or scarlet DMs, if you want a purple velvet jacket, that’s all good.”
The memo concluded: “This is, by the way, non-gender-specific. Not scruffy or ungroomed, not hoody-techy (except for the techy people, who I appreciate are hard-wired to wear hoodies), not trashy, always in good taste, but you can all be as wildly fabulous as you feel like, and express yourselves to the full. All part of one of our core values - bring your personality to work!”
'Dress for the occasion'
The dress code for Annabel’s is designed to “encourage individuality and fabulous party dressing”, with guests told to "dress for the occasion, and be respectful in their choice of smart, elegant attire".
Jeans, smart leather jackets and trainers are only allowed if they are in “good repair”, while sportswear and gym gear are banned unless guests are attending a pre-booked fitness event.
Ripped jeans, flip-flops and excessive displays of skin are not permitted at the club.
It is not the first time Ms Vardag has issued a decree to staff about what not to wear in the workplace.
In 2020, her memos reminding her staff to adhere to the firm’s previous dress code were leaked to a legal gossip website.
One email was headed “Cardigans!” and said: “I am seeing cardigans in the office. Look at the dress code in the handbook. Woollies are verboten.”
She also ordered all staff to stop looking like "pretty young things" around the office, instead telling them to look “executive” and like "the president of a significant country".
Ms Vardag, 52, who has also been referred to as “the Diva of Divorce”, rose to fame following her role in the landmark Supreme Court case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010, which changed the law to make prenuptial agreements legally enforceable in the UK.
Katrin Radmacher, a German heiress, won a ruling holding that the prenup drawn up to protect her £100 million fortune from her French-born husband, Nicolas Granatino, was legally binding.
Ms Vardag acted for Radmacher during the the Supreme Court hearing. Farrer & Co, solicitors to Queen Elizabeth II, were then instructed to take over the case, dealing with implementation.