Business Traveller – Dress for Success

In much of the world, a person dressed inappropriately will not be taken seriously, especially in a business situation.

Argentina: very formal.
The Argentines have adopted British traditions towards clothing, usually wearing formal, conservative outfits, even in many social situations. Foreign business executives visitingArgentina should do likewise. Businesswomen inArgentina should be sure to wear stylish shoes.

Brazil: casual but stylish.
By contrast withArgentina, style is the most important factor in Brazilian dress. Well-cut, fashionable clothing is expected of Brazilian executives. Many male executives manage to do without ties. But remember thatBrazil is very large, and the degree of casualness varies.Rio de Janeiro is more casual thanSão Paulo, which itself is more casual than Brasília. Brazilian women consider carefully manicured nails to be very important. Women who wear open-toed shoes should have a pedicure as well.

Saudi Arabia: modesty.
Air conditioning is common, so businesspeople should expect to wear full business suits to a first meeting. If it seems appropriate, men can dispense with ties and jackets at subsequent meetings. Despite the heat, legs and upper arms must be kept covered. Shorts are not acceptable, even for casual wear. Many foreigners have fallen foul of the Matawain (religious police). Clothes may not be tight; women, especially, should wear loose-fitting clothes. Baggy clothes also make sitting on a floor or cushion more comfortable.

France: stylish; best quality.
As one would expect, the inventors of haute couture put a premium on style. Even low-paid, entry-level executives buy the best clothes they can afford. The typical French posture (very straight, even when sitting) makes their clothes look even better. Unlike theU.S.A., businessmen inFrance do not usually loosen their ties or take off their jackets in the office. One note on color: wearing a blue shirt to a meeting may generate some unwanted attention from your French associates. As blue shirts are worn by raw French military recruits, you may be labeled un bleu, “a greenhorn.” Frenchwomen are famous for their hard-edged, feminine chic: a smart tailleur and good shoes are a must; a short skirt and lacquered nails certainly do not signify a lack of business savoir-faire. Frenchwomen are savvy!

U.K.: custom tailoring.
Traditionally, the British looked suspiciously at clothes that were trendy or obviously new. In the past a gentleman wore well-made but well-worn clothes. Today, however, only academics wear old clothes. British business executives are likely to have a new, custom-tailored wardrobe, though conservative styles are still preferred. Women should remember that English weather is often cold and wet. One of the reasons tweed is so popular in England is because it is both warm and comparatively water-repellent.

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