Thursday, February 15, 2007

Traveling for Business - What to Wear

A question I've been frequently asked is what do I wear and pack for a short business trip?

Here’s a good principle that’s helped me plan my wardrobe whenever I travel: “Always dress for arrival, not departure.” If you remember that, then everything else follows. Let’s break this down into the two “E’s” to consider when traveling – Event and Environment.

Since you mentioned you were going on a business trip take some time to find out what the prescribed business attire is in the country you are going to. Do they wear suits or just a shirt and tie? Save on ironing cost and time by bringing long-sleeved shirts made of wrinkle-resistant material. Marks & Spencer has a lot of these. If you’re bringing a suit, choose a black one for daytime and night time versatility.

While in transit, I like to wear a suit jacket paired with jeans. This outfit gives me the comfort and style of the modern businessman. It also gets you better attention from flight attendants and airport personnel. On the practical side, wearing the suit jacket saves me the problem of not crumpling it in my suitcase.

It’s also good to be ready with one set of formal attire (black tie and a white dress shirt) in case your host decides to take you out to a fancy dinner or a dressy event.

On shoes, I tend to bring only two pairs. I wear a pair of rubber-soled loafers during the trip and for going around, and pack one pair of dressier lace-up shoes for business meetings and evening socials. If you’re the type that hits the hotel gym during your free time, then bring a pair of rubber shoes; they’re light anyway. You won’t need slippers since most reputable hotels give their guests a complimentary pair.


Check the weather of the country you are going to. You will need to make room in your luggage for a sweater or a jacket if you’re going to countries with <20oC temperature. If you are going to a very hot country like India or the Middle East, where I hear it is 40oC under the shade, bring clothes made of light material like linen and cotton. Good luck with ironing though.

And finally, I feel I need to touch on what NOT to wear during your trip, while in transit: faded denim jacket (unless you want to be stopped and interrogated to no end), flip flops and shorts (unless the plane you are taking has sand) and clothes with the brand screaming as part of the design (the surest way NOT to get a seat upgrade).

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