Natacha Minniti did not bristle at the stereotype that finance is not considered a fashionable profession, in the sartorial sense, particularly for women. “You can say it. The stereotype for our industry from the past — before 2000, I would say — was that people imagined bankers with a suit only in blue, gray or black,” said Minniti, defying the cliché in a navy Derek Lam peacoat slung over her shoulders, a navy Balmain blazer with gold buttons, an ivory Michael Kors blouse, floral-printed skinny ankle-length Prada pants and navy Gianvito Rossi pumps, on the 31st floor of JP Morgan’s New York office at 270 Park Avenue.
Everything Minniti was wearing was on a Tuesday evening on her way to catch a flight to Milan after a day of six meetings was sharp but distinctly feminine and clearly high end. She was reluctant to name the labels due to compliance regulations. As head of New York at JP Morgan Private Bank, she cannot be perceived as endorsing specific brands. Still, she’s well aware of them, partially because her job requires it. Minniti runs the largest team in the private bank with 108 employees, including bankers, investors, capital advisers and wealth advisers who manage the private wealth of high net worth clients — families, entrepreneurs and chief executive officers. Her personal focus is real estate and luxury.
“I started in mergers and acquisitions. I was covering the consumer sector, so I had the chance to meet entrepreneurs in the fashion sector,” said Minniti, who was born in France, raised in Italy and moved to New York two years ago. “I’m connected to fashion. I know this sector inside and out, but also from a different point of view: I buy, I’m a consumer.”
Minniti talked to WWD about yoga pants and the surprising thing about the way Millennials dress for the office, and alluded to where she shops (Net-a-porter and Dior).
WWD: Does JP Morgan have a strict dress code?
Natacha Minniti: We changed our dress code last summer. We approved casual dress. [JP Morgan officially changed its everyday dress code to business casual in June 2016.] Before, people felt that you have to always wear a suit, particularly for the men. Women, they always had a little bit of freedom. But now we have casual dress. Why we did it? I think in the last five years the industry changed. We want to be more inclusive, more flexible. People are looking to be more authentic. I always think you have to represent the brand you work with. So I will never be overly casual. This is me.
WWD: Has there been a big shift since the change in code?
N.M.: Now, you go to a meeting and you see that maybe two women have leather jackets. Maybe before you would never wear a leather jacket to an internal meeting. You feel that you have a little bit more freedom. I have to say that at least I see a lot of people still loved to go with suits….Maybe you take more risks. Maybe you can get also more comfortable. Do I see a big shift? No. Maybe you see more men without a tie but on the women’s side, they will always be nicely dressed.
WWD: What’s the biggest influence on how you dress for work?
N.M.: It’s my mood for sure and my agenda. My mood because I think particularly when you’re a woman and you have a busy day, you don’t have time to look at your mirror. You don’t even have time for your makeup. When you wake up and you decide what you dress, for me it’s to improve my mood. It’s really the only time I have to think about me. My agenda, because it depends if I have internal meetings, if I have external meetings, if I have to meet someone who I never met in my life.
WWD: Are there any items that are definitely off-limits?
N.M.: No flip-flops or miniskirts. Vulgarity in general is not allowed. Also, I think the code does not allow yoga pants and flip-flops and all of this kind of really sporty casual. This is not allowed.
WWD: Do you ever wear jeans?
N.M.: Only if I have to take a flight and pass by the office, but I don’t wear jeans to the office. Maybe on a Friday, if it’s half day or a bank holiday, something really casual.
WWD: How do you shop? Do you like to go to one particular store?
N.M.: Shopping has changed for me completely….I can tell you a story without telling you the brand: First of all, now, I want something really fast, so I do all of my research online, between two meetings, while I’m in a taxi, waiting to go to another meeting. I go online on my app and I buy or I do my research. What really captures my attention is the logistics. They have to be fast. I’m really impatient, so I need to have it in less than 24 hours and the return policy must be easy.
WWD: I have an idea where you shop.
N.M.: This is just one of the things. I do my research but then I’m so eclectic, I like to go to monobrand boutiques because I like to feel the experience. I think every brand carries a story and value, so I will never wear a brand if I don’t like the designer or I don’t like the style. I always embrace the brand and story that there is behind the brand. I don’t follow trend because of fashion. I’m really like a conscious buyer.
WWD: How much crossover is there between your work wardrobe and your personal life wardrobe?
N.M.: No, I don’t wear the same things. First because I get bored. It’s like a mind shift, it’s like a message — I’m out. I wear a lot of jeans when I’m not in the office, but some pieces, like my blue blazer, I will always have in my wardrobe even casual. High heels I will always have.
WWD: Do you spend more on work clothes or off-duty clothes?
N.M. This is an interesting one. Can we say 50/50? I spend a lot on work clothes because it depends, right? If you buy a gala dress, the math goes up. I will say a good balance but I definitely spend a lot for my working clothes.
WWD: What’s your favorite recent purchase, if you can say without naming the brand?
N.M.: I like upcoming female designers. So I celebrated the fact that a woman went to a house, a really luxury house, French, really traditional that never had a woman designer.
WWD: Did you get a bag, or shoes?
N.M.: I got a dress from the new spring collection.
WWD: If you had a choice, would you go more formal or more casual for the office?
N.M.: I am Italian, so in my DNA is the formal but in reality it’s a mix of the two. It’s all of the above, but I think I always keep this kind of formal way or add something really stylish to my casual style.
WWD: Do you see coworkers pushing the casual thing too far?
N.M.: No. I remember the day after the [dress code change], with all the Millennials, all of my analysts of the first generation, they were all still with the tie. I said, “Ah! Not one of you read today what we said? So you don’t believe us?” It was so funny.