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  1. #1

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    Business attire in USA

    Hi all,

    I have the possibility of being transferred to the US with my company (I'm currently uk based). I work as an Account Executive in IT and the company and role is very formal, so a suit and tie is an absolute. I currently have a slightly more flamboyant formal dress code, compared to my colleagues anyway, for example my known signature at work are puffed pocket squares and I have many tailored suits in some slightly more experimental fabrics such as chocolate burgandy and glen plaid.

    However when I've travelled to the US, I notice I sometimes get some flippant remarks, almost always from other US colleagues, about my dress code for example the touches like the pocket squares and tailored slimmer suits. Most of the ones commenting are stood their in boxy blazers and golf shirts. Usually along the lines of looking too camp.

    I can't work out what the business formal etiquette is - are these negative comments just coming from chest beating alpha males, or is the European business formal just a bit too brash and showy for the US? When I meet with clients out there I want to make sure I look smart and professional without looking like a show off.

    I guess another question would be what part of the US, as I'm sure places like NewYork and Chicago are a bit more varied and open to it than other areas, but I'm not quite sure which region I will be placed into yet.

    Any experiences? Will I really be wearing boxy pinstripe blazers with cream chinos and racing green golf shirt?

  2. #2

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    So, I noticed most posters are here are not from the US. Well, it looks like you have been at the place you will be working before. I am sure you had a chance to look at what they were wearing.
    Now, when you mentioned you work in IT. Most people that work in IT don't even wear suits. You also have to take a look at what the company culture is. You want to be comfortable and not make anyone else uncomfortable.
    What do I mean? You are the new guy at the office,( you didn't mention if you were their superior or not) so you will be treated like the new guy. In fact they may be threatened by your presence. You will be their competition in promotions and such. So take that into consideration. Also, you don't want to make your co-workers uncomfortable because of your dress style. It may make them feel inferior, or make you appear to have a different attitude towards your work.

    My honest opinion don't be too flamboyant at first. Bring in your suit, but do not take your pocket square. Dress to impress and make sure you don't overdress (don't dress better than your boss/supervisor if you have any). You can later start wearing your pocket squares and such if you feel its necessary.

    Dress in a way that makes you comfortable.

  3. #3

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    Hi Thearkly,

    Many thanks for your pointers, very useful. Your hunch is also the same as mine.

    Regarding the IT role, mine is as a client-facing account management role, and is usually with IT management and chief exec levels (CIOs), so formal smart dress code is pretty much essential, however I'm always keen not to cross the boundary from sartorial to show-off. My current clients are UK government and most still wear tank tops and ancient suits, but I do get many compliments about my smart appearance from clients, so luckily my style hasn't offended yet. My primary concern is to dress smart and make my clients feel I am making the effort to dress well for them, rather than turn up to meet them having not made an effort. A difficult one to balance.

    My uncertainty was aimed around the business code in US, which seems a bit more conservative than the UK

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