On no account must you wear brown shoes in the City of London. Brown may be anecdotally acceptable in Continental European financial centres, but it is never, ever ok on London Wall. Most people knew this already and if they didn't, it was confirmed by last week's UK government report on social mobility in finance (brown shoes are equated with a lack of 'polish' which is tantamount to being non-middle class).
But if you shouldn't wear brown shoes, then what? And does the brown shoe shibboleth also apply on Wall Street?
The answer to the latter appears to be yes - it does. Observation of the shoes worn by top executives at top banks suggests none of them are all brown. They are all black. And they are all very similar indeed. They look like this, from the UK company Church's, costing £425 ($566):
Wearers of shoes in the style above include Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, as shown in the photos below.
Source: Steve Coll by Stewart Morris is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Source: Fortune Global Forum 2013 by Fortune Live Media is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
They also include Andrea Orcel of UBS whose shoes are visible here and John Cryan of Deutsche whose shoes are visible here. Basically, if you're a man who wants to get ahead in investment banking, wear black lace-ups - like school, except many times more expensive.
Photo credit: Fashion Statement! by Tony Alter is licensed under CC BY 2.0.