International standard business wear, for men, is a
-- an ensemble composed of a pair of
trousers with a matching
The suit is worn with a long-sleeved
shirt and a
Many men do not wear suits to work. They wear
uniforms, or they wear inexpensive, sturdy clothing that can
be easily laundered. Wearing a suit to work is a proclamation of managerial
or professional status. However, when applying for work or attending business
meetings, many men who do not otherwise wear suits will don them as a mark
of respect and formality.
In the 1990s, Internet businesses flourished and so did the relaxed dress
standards flaunted by unconventional dot-com businesspeople. Business casual,
consisting of good pants and a
polo shirt or short-sleeved shirt, is increasingly
acceptable attire at technically-oriented business meetings.
The standard for women is also in flux. In the 1970s, women aspiring
to managerial or professional status were advised to "dress for success"
by wearing clothing that imitated the male business suit: jacket and matching
skirt, worn with a plain blouse and discreet accessories. Some women wore
pantsuits, substituting pants for the skirt, but in doing so, they risked
the displeasure of many who felt that women should not wear
Now even conservative Western workplaces are more accepting of pants
on female employees. However, they may still expect female employees to
exhibit the drab, no-nonsense look of mens's suits. Women in "creative"
professions, such as advertising or fashion, can usually dress with more
color and flair. In fact, their eye for the current fashion is a subtle
proclamation of their competence as workers who set the fashion for others.
Male business attire is also nuanced. Choice of clothing and accessories
proclaims social and financial status. A cheap suit, purchased off-the-rack
at a chain store, does not have the cachet of a
bespoke suit tailored in London to one's exact measurements. Custom
shirts, hand-made shoes, and
shout "money" to the discerning eye.
Western business wear is standard in many workplaces around the globe,
even in countries where the usual daily wear may be a distinctive national
costume. Western business wear is most often seen on those who often interact
with Western businesspeople. It is a declaration that "I too am one
Some non-Western businesspeople will wear national costume nonetheless.
A Saudi Arabian sheik may wear the traditional robes and headdress to an
international conference. Doing so can proclaim national pride, or just
extremely high status. Sometimes an element of the national costume such
as a hat is combined with a Western business suit.
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