Dress to impress – update

First they lost the bowler hats, and now it’s the ties.

Civil servants will be looking forward to a more relaxed future, after Andrew Turnbull, the outgoing Cabinet Secretary, declared that he would be happy for civil servants to come to work in open-necked shirts, provided they looked professional.

“The bowler hat is gone,” he told an audience of civil servants. “The new Lord Chief Justice has questioned wearing the wig. It is quite likely the necktie will be an issue.”

He was speaking on one of the hottest days of the year at the Royal Society in London for the launch of its national school of government for Whitehall officials.

However, although Turnbull said that he would be relaxed if Whitehall followed the example of the City and abandoned the necktie, he insisted that it would be unacceptable for officials to “slog around in jeans and trainers”.

“People would think, ‘We are not taking you seriously’,” he told reporters.

Turnbull, who has been replaced by Gus O’Donnell, also said that the government should have pressed ahead with plans to make civil servants work until they were 65 before drawing their pensions.

He said the failure to push through reforms to civil servants’ pensions was among his chief regrets from his three years in the post.


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