Business Traveller – Fashion Faux Pas

China : Even casual wear is somewhat conservative. Revealing clothing in a business environment may be offensive. In social situations, jeans are acceptable for both men and women.

England : Men’s shirts should not have pockets, but if they do, they should remain empty. Do not cram them full of pens, calculators, etc.

Argentina : Your entire wardrobe will be scrutinized. Argentines are very aware of European styles. Provocative clothing is rarely seen at work. Argentines tend toward the modest and subdued. Also, no matter how attractive native costumes appear to you, do not adopt them. Indian clothing is for Indians. The same goes for gaucho outfits.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and much of the Middle East : Despite the heat, most of the body must remain covered in Muslim countries. While western businessmen and women do not have to adopt Islamic wardrobes, they are expected to wear very modest clothing in public. Necklines should be high and the sleeves should come at least to the elbows. For women, hemlines should be well below the knee, if not ankle-length. The overall effect should be one of baggy concealment; a full-length outfit that is tight or revealing is not acceptable.

Japan : Never appear casual at work. Slip-on shoes are best, since you remove them frequently. Tall women should eschew extremely high heels to avoid towering over their Japanese counterparts.

India : Remember that Hindus revere cows and may consider leather products offensive (especially in temples). Leave your finely tooled leather belts, wallets, boots and briefcases at home, and invest in some high-quality fabric accessories.

France : The inventors of haute couture put a premium on style. Even low-paid, entry-level executives buy the best clothes they can afford. Frenchwomen are famous for their hard-edged, feminine chic : a smart tailleur and good shoes are a must.

In some countries, men remove their jackets at work (i.e., theNetherlands) while in other countries (GermanyandFrance), executives usually do not loosen their ties or take off their jackets while at the office. Never be the first to shed your jacket.

Colors are important

As I mentioned in a previous article, colors can have significant meaning around the world. Some patterns can set the wrong tone in certain locations:

Red can be a color of mourning in parts ofAfrica.

Yellow is associated with illness inSouth Korea, and certain shades of yellow are reserved for the royal families to wear inMalaysia.

Particular stripes on ties can be associated with schools in theUnited Kingdom.

Green is associated with Islam in the Middle East.

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