What to Wear: International Business Attire
The overall theme here is to wear clothing that represents you and your employer well while also being appropriate to the culture around you. For my work, I travel with some frequency to Asia. I’ll go from Beijing to Hong Kong to Singapore – there are important differences in climate and culture between these places.
Hong Kong is, hands down, the coolest place to have business meetings. Everyone looks sharp. Men are in suits and women are in beautiful dresses. This is a place to dress for a more traditional corporate audience. In Hong Kong, the city stays moving, even in the stifling heat. I choose a simple J Crew black dress made of lightweight wool – which was probably still a bit too warm – and a crisp white Madewell blazer to blend in with the finance folks I’d be meeting with.
While Hong Kong can be quite humid, nothing compares to Singapore. The heat (which I LOVE) will do a number on you if you try to wear structured clothing.
Singapore is a place to wear lighter colors – and dresses are perfect year-round! (Once on a trip in October I made the mistake of packing black corduroy jeans, not realizing that the temperature would be the same as when I was there in May given that the country is equatorial…it was not a comfortable experience!) In Singapore, they use the term “smart casual” which I think is brilliant. Men often wear suit pants and a button down shirt and tie, but no jacket.
Beijing is a high desert environment, so it is much drier than either Hong Kong or Singapore, and medium formal in my experience. Men wore jeans with their button-down shirts, while women continued the trend of dresses and long skirts. This dress is cotton, so it’s a bit more breathable, and the belt added a bit of structure so I wouldn’t need a jacket to play that role.