What to Wear for Business in Tokyo


If your business activities take you to Tokyo, Japan, you'll want to make sure you dress formally, dress conservatively, and leave your red power tie or black business suit at home. Japanese business culture demands a conservative appearance and you'll want to meet those expectations with a wardrobe that matches. Whether you are a business man or business woman, you'll want to think in terms of neutral colors and conservative-styled choices that will help you succeed in conforming with the Japanese culture and succeeding in your business endeavor.

Business Dress for Men

Men preparing for a business trip to Tokyo should always plan to wear a business suit. Be aware of the time of year you are traveling to Japan. The winters can be cold, the summers hot. You'll want to pick a fabric that matches the temperature. Neutral is key. Gray and navy suits with a blue or white shirt are always safe picks. Red is considered very controversial in Japan, so keep your power tie at home. Black, though popular on Wall Street, will be frowned upon in the Tokyo boardrooms. In Japan, black is traditionally worn at funerals and you don't want the mood to go bad because you have donned your black pinstripes. Also, check your socks before you leave for the day. They should be clean and without holes since in many buildings you will be asked to remove your shoes. You should not wear jeans to any business activities, even if the dress is supposed to be casual. If the dress code is relaxed, remove the tie and wear khaki pants and a navy blazer. Most of all, you want to present a conservative and proper appearance.

Business Dress for Women

For women, some of the basic principles apply. Black and red are colors to avoid. For best results, women should wear a business suit too, but skirts should not be worn too short -- knee length is appropriate. Women can also consider a blouse and skirt combo, with a jacket added for a more formal appearance. Conservative colors are also best. Make sure also to avoid tight-fitting clothes, blouses or tops that are too revealing. Open-toed shoes are considered unsuitable as is a failure to wear tights or hose. Pumps would be a better choice for most women.

After-Hours Dress

In Tokyo, business does not stop just because the workday has ended. You might be invited to a special event, dinner, or function. In most cases, assume the attire is formal. For men, gray or khaki slacks, and a neutral-colored dress shirt are always a safe bet. If the mood is truly casual, you can shed your tie. Women should also stick with a conservative approach. Stick to the general guidelines listed above. Try loose-fitting slacks or blouses and nothing too gaudy or outlandish. You should, as a rule, avoid jeans and shorts. Even if the dress is said to be casual, this type of dress will not be appropriate.

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