Germany: Business Dress
Guidelines for business dress
Dress in corporate business and banking is generally formal, dark and conservative suits for both men and women. Otherwise, business dress is relatively casual. Suits are seldom worn by clerks and other office staff, and are standard dress for only managers at the upper levels. In banks, men tend to be more formally dressed than their female co-workers, often attired in suit and tie. Dress codes in the IT sector are very casual.
Khakis with a simple jacket/blazer would be inappropriate, especially for first meetings or contacts.
Germans tend to dress in more conservative, muted colors, both in business and social environments. You will notice, too, in both social situations and on a daily basis that Germans tend to “dress up” much more than, for example, North Americans when they go out. This goes as much for walking the dog or shopping at the supermarket as for going to restaurants and cafes. In other words, very casual sporting attire is seen on mostly teenagers and students, or is otherwise reserved for the gym or beach. Dress shoes worn with jeans and a tastefully-coordinated ensemble is quite normal for adult men and women.
Women should also avoid excessively ornate jewelry or displaying items of conspicuous wealth, especially in the former East Germany. The standard of living in this area of Germany is still lower than that in the western part and displays of affluence can cause resentment.
When you receive an invitation stating “informal” dress, don't assume you'll be welcome arriving in a T-shirt and sweatpants. For a social gathering, informal more often than not means tastefully coordinated clothes, although not necessarily a jacket and tie for men. An invitation stating “formal” dress usually means formal eveningwear, which is very dressy by American standards.
Most restaurants do not require a tie for men, although the upscale establishments expect both men and women to arrive well dressed. [Important related side note: Patrons of restaurants are normally free to select their own tables and seat themselves. In very upscale establishments, however, guests will more likely to be shown to their seats.]
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