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Equitable dressing for bankers could revamp sector in hard times

Peter Kimani
 Equity Bank signage. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Folks at Equity Bank have unveiled a dress code for their staff to project a “professional, put-together look.”

I don’t know what that means, but it is a huge transformation for what started as a building society, which means its original clientele mainly comprised fundis and contractors.

But not anymore; now that they have grown by leaps and bounds, they can afford to turn their attention to sartorial elegance, in tandem with their changing fortunes.

First off, gum chewing is not allowed within Equity premises. This makes a lot of sense. If we’re to contain greenhouse emissions, well-fed men must keep their mouths shut, especially if their chewing is as lengthy and laborious as herbivores chewing cud.

But the devil is in the detail: rather than send men and women who are out of shape to the gym, which would improve not just how they look, but how they feel internally, different tiers of dressing have been assigned.                            

Tall, thin men have been asked to wear clothes that “build a masculine silhouette.” The more practical suggestion is to send them to Burma market for weekly doses of ugali matumbo, and walking from work and back to build their muscles.

Short men, on the other hand, have been asked to wear pinstripes or “thinly spaced chalk stripes in dark shades to elongate their bodies.”

In my estimation, the City Stadium, in the same neighbourhood as the Burma market offers a more practical solution. Get the short men to climb and jump over the stadium wall, as do rascals who don’t pay entry fees. A few tumbles will result in bones expanding.

As for the “heavy-set men,” popularly known as “jamaa fupi round,” who have been asked to wear “well-cut double-breasted suits in light material to camouflage the tummy area,” the practical solution is cutting on their food rations. It’s as simple as that.

Further, men are prohibited from carrying bulging wallets in their pockets. While the idea is couched as meant to promote plastic money and digital pockets, I think it’s a subtle warning against theft.

Equity should drop these pretences and introduce an evening frisk of pockets same way supermarket workers line up at the end of each day to submit to a screening to ensure they did not pilfer anything from the shelves.

But it is women who take the biscuit. “Consider your body shape,” reprimands the memo, which is same as saying: use your head. Or it could be that not all female staff members use their heads when selecting their daily wardrobe.

Consequently, women with the so-called hourglass and “figure 8 features” were asked to wear “cross-over or bias-cut clothes.” I have no idea what that means, but then what do I know about women wear, anyway? I’d propose sending any “figure 8” women to modelling agencies. They’d earn good money from their side hustle and in an ethical manner.

Things got more complicated with other female shapes: “triangle” and “inverted triangle” women were asked to wear “well-defined and constructed garment shapes for the bottom half of the body.” I was about to say that if someone addressed my body as triangular, I would tell them their head resembles a forked jembe.

But I checked myself just in time when I read some bodies were described as either “rectangle” or “oval.” Did someone take dimensions, compass in hand, to sketch out the definitive features on these women’s anatomy? Would this be part of a quarterly job review?

So far, there has been no mention of who picks the tab for the sartorial transformation at Equity, but I guess money has never been a problem for them. The problem is how to spend it.

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