How to dress for business success—Japan

How to dress for business success—Japan

The Japanese are generally conservative and introverted, and this shows in their style of dress. Remember the old Japanese saying deru kugi wa utareru, “the nail that sticks out will get hammered down,” when you are choosing your wardrobe in Japan. According to Geert Hofstede, Power Distance is very high in Japan, and thus a status hierarchy is respected. The wardrobe of a businessman often correlates to rank. You should take this into consideration when choosing an outfit, and dress to impress.

Remember two rules of thumb—keep it simple and sophisticated. For most meetings, you should keep in mind the three key colors—navy blue, charcoal gray, and black. Women should not wear high heels or short-sleeved blouses. They must be conservative and professional, yet elegant and sophisticated. Wearing tight or revealing clothing in a business setting is considered offensive. Women should never wear pants. For a woman, a dark-colored skirted suit is the best option. Low-heeled shoes will help taller Western women blend in. Standing taller than a man can be a disadvantage when doing business.

Men should wear tailored, conservative suits in subtle colors—the standard navy blue, grey and black. Colors are extremely important, because they can be interpreted as symbols. Wearing a red tie will impress your host, but avoid white, as it symbolizes death. Remember that shoes should always be easy to remove, because this is done very often. Choose to wear slip-ons of a dark, conservative color.

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