Should I wear a business Suit in Bangkok?
Ok; you have just got the call from your Head Hunter and he has news; you have a meeting at the company you always wanted to work for, congratulations, so what are you going to wear?
I personally, as an entrepreneur, often see people walking around Bangkok in a suit sweating, and I wonder if they are so far out of their comfort zone, and are they struggling?
Nothing gives off a poor first impression more than a sweaty chap at a networking event wearing an ill-fitting suit who claims to be a financial advisor. Oh sure yeah, you are so good with money you have to run around all day going to networking events and wear a cheap suit for full effect.
For me I am trying to create a living around my lifestyle, not a lifestyle around my living, so I often wonder if a full suit is the preferred business dress in Bangkok and Thailand. So this always beggars the question:
Traditional Business Suit and Tie?
If you have done your research on the company you are meeting, and had conversations with as many inside people as you can, in addition you have the low down on the corporate culture and you know that they are quite conservative and traditional then traditional advice would dictate that you should run out to the finest tailor in Bangkok and purchase a suit of neutral colours. Men should accessorize with a “power tie” and women need to blend in colours that do not overstate their presence. Very little, if any, perfume or after shave should be used, and a trip to your hair stylist is almost a mandate.
However what if you learned through your means that the company you are looking to join were quite modern and nobody wears business suits? What then?
Go Professional Casual
It still may feel quite alien to you to walk into an interview in anything less than a fully tailored suit, however, with the heat here in Bangkok, it can be quite a challenge to get to an interview and still look cool and collected when wearing a full suit, so going Professional Casual may be one of the great reasons why this company may be a great fit for you, as they obviously have a forward thinking culture.
What exactly is Professional Casual?
Seems there are a few definitions out there, this is where your research will pay off, even sneaky surveillance, like hanging round outside at start of play to watch how people are dressed going in, and home from the office could just work, just don’t get caught, you will look a proper chump if the job is for a security based organisation!
General rule of thumb is: dress pants, ironed long sleeve shirt (without logos or fancy designs,) or a well-tailored or fitted golf shirt or blouse. Shoes should be of high quality, clean and well-polished. You should be dressed unassumingly, yet show good respect for the people you are meeting. You should feel very confident, because this is where you must be at your most responsive at dynamic and your clothes will say so much before you even open your mouth!
Professional Casual has its challenges, but so does not having a best tailored business suit that fits you like a glove. If you seldom wear a suit, it will show, and you will probably less confident than you are naturally.
Of course the main one is getting it wrong and walking into a room with middle aged men all dressed impeccably in three piece suits and cufflinks. That will be all down to your research.
I once, as a franking machine Salesman in UK, walked into a meeting and the Director just smiled offered me coffee and continued working on his PC without saying much at all, I was beginning to wonder what I had done wrong if anything at all. Being a man we often miss subtle things, after ten minutes , he said; “Best let me sign the form for the machine then.” Astonished I passed him the order form, he signed it, and on the way out he said; “By the way nice tie! My wife bought me mine for my birthday, which is today”
I looked and we had identical ties on!! Well that happens once or twice in a salesman’s career, point is you can’t leave that to chance.
There is nothing wrong with asking a question to the human resources manager about their expectation of attire. A question phrased such as “It is important for me that I present the best possible image I can during this interview as my interest in learning more about your company is very high. With that in mind, I wonder what attire you expect from those you interview?
This question not only shows a high level of respect but also demonstrates your interest in the position as well as in showing that you can listen to and follow the advice of a company officer. A quick note, if you ask this question and hear that professional casual is fine, don’t get cold feet and choose a business suit instead!
To be fitted out with the best tailored suit in Bangkok just pop in and say Hi to Ram in Terminal 21 on the second floor, tell him you read this blog and he may give you a discount!