Netherlands: Business Dress


Guidelines for business dress

Business dress in the Netherlands is fairly conservative, but it depends upon the profession.

In the financial industries [perhaps the most conservative of all], most businessmen wear dark suits, muted ties, and white shirts; women typically dress in dark suits and white blouses. Expect to wear the same clothes when invited to dinner.

Some professions [mostly related to consumer products, IT and arts] allow very informal dress. Quite a few executives save their ties and jackets for outside the office.

As in many countries, Dutch men remove their jackets when working. Follow their lead.

In certain industries, you may be surprised to find that the higher a person’s rank, the more informally he or she is permitted to dress. For example, in some offices, you may find the sales clerks in suits and the boss in jeans and a sweater.

Because of the stress on egalitarianism in this society, the wealthier and more successful a Dutch executive becomes, the more he or she must make an effort to maintain an ordinary appearance. Generally, the wealthy do not wear beautiful designer clothes [at least not immediately visible as such].

Generally, being pragmatic, the Dutch like to dress informally. You’ll observe that in some industries, very few men wear suits. A more popular ensemble consists of gray flannel trousers with a sports coat–which can often be worn even when attending a dinner. If you opt for this look on a more formal dining occasion, such as at the home of a boss or other superior, wear a tie. Whenever you’re in doubt, the best policy is to call ahead and inquire about the dress requirements.

Dressing up is permissible on appropriate occasions. A tuxedo for men and an evening gown for women may be expected for formal parties, dinners, or an opening night at the theater.

Casual wear is essentially the same as in the North America. Shorts, however, are acceptable only when jogging or hiking.

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