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International business wear

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I've been lurking around StyleForum for years now but have never posted. Have found it to be an amazing community even as only a reader, and you've provided me with so much information on building my wardrobe thus far. I hope to now become a valuable part of this community of people.

I have a new job that I'm starting in the finance sector but focusing on international finance, especially in Latin America. I am well versed, thanks to a lot of the posts I've read here, in conservative dress for the finance industry.

My typical wardrobe is a MTM suit in various colors. I usually go with charcoal or navy blue, but sometimes lighter greys and plaids. Shirt colors vary as well, and I've got some brighter colored ties that I enjoy. Shoes are generally all conservative, black and numerous shades of brown. I've been able to be less conservative from time to time as a lot of the work I have done up to this point has been freelancing, but now I've got a job I can't turn down, and I'll be dealing a lot in person with bankers and politicians and the like outside of the U.S., again focused on Latin America, but as I revamp my wardrobe I'm wanting to ensure it is well planned for business around the globe.

I've been told I need to go way more conservative for working internationally. Charcoal suits, white or blue shirts, conservative ties (no pink or purple for example), black shoes only.

What do you guys think of this? How would you approach revamping your wardrobe under these circumstances?

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 8
Decades ago I lived and worked in South America.
I was not in finance but was in the US Foreign Service.
My observation is that Banking and finance there is
very conservative, but can be very elegant in dress.
By conservative I do not mean the often bland US corporate
look, more noticeable on executives based in the heartland.
A better stereotype to follow is a conservative cosmopolitan
style that one sees in New York or London especially in
finance.

Examples:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Geithner#/media/File:Secretary_Tim_Geithner_and_Finance_Minister_Pranab_Mukherjee_2010.jpg

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Jamie_Dimon,_CEO_of_JPMorgan_Chase.jpg&imgrefurl=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamie_Dimon&h=2439&w=3070&tbnid=vrc9makFva2WhM:&tbnh=158&tbnw=200&docid=JfPYGff4jwOEEM&itg=1&client=safari&usg=__kbfyk1UIwrIjkRGqahypMhs7tAM=#h=2439&tbnh=158&tbnw=200&w=3070
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply, and thanks for your service to the country.

 

Based on your input and the photos, probably better to narrow down my wardrobe to white and blue shirts, conservative (no bright) ties, and black shoes, then?

post #4 of 8
I currently live in Central America. Where will you be working in Latin America? I ask because temperature is going to play a role in your wardrobe and to some extent the fabrics you choose. There's a big difference between working in San Pedro Sula and Santiago. In general, the finance industry trends more conservative (as @comrade said) with lots of personal tailoring at the executive level. Darker suits, black shoes, more subtle ties, plain or tonal stripe shirts. I don't think you'll go wrong with navy and/or charcoal suit in fresco wool. If you want to mix it up a little, a subtle windowpane or pinstripe can also work, if it's in darker colors. But something like a PoW or glenplaid would be pushing it. And I can't remember ever seeing someone in a linen suit, even though it's a fabric that makes a lot of sense where I live. Hope that helps!
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks, JohnAAG. Where in Central America are you based? (Out of curiosity.)

 

I'll mostly be in Mexico City and Sao Paulo. Essentially I'll be going back and forth between those two cities.

 

However, from time to time (likely once per month) I'll be spending a couple of days in the financial capital of the other major countries in LATAM. So, for instance, Panama City, Bogota, Buenos Aires, and so on.

 

I wish I could pull off the linen suits, but as you implied, I don't think that's going to be appropriate. In general you'd just choose a lighter wool, then? I'll ask my tailor about this, too.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by markcharron313 View Post

Thanks, JohnAAG. Where in Central America are you based? (Out of curiosity.)



 



I'll mostly be in Mexico City and Sao Paulo. Essentially I'll be going back and forth between those two cities.



 



However, from time to time (likely once per month) I'll be spending a couple of days in the financial capital of the other major countries in LATAM. So, for instance, Panama City, Bogota, Buenos Aires, and so on.



 



I wish I could pull off the linen suits, but as you implied, I don't think that's going to be appropriate. In general you'd just choose a lighter wool, then? I'll ask my tailor about this, too.


 



I'm based in Guatemala, but I travel all over pretty regularly.

For suits for me, it's mainly tropical weight wools or Fresco. Even with the AC everywhere, you'll roast in anything heavier when you're walking across a parking lot.

Pay attention to the casual wear as well. That can range all over the place (from jeans and polos/OCBDs to blazers/chinos) depending on a) the family and their area of business b) where you're going out and c) the city. I found the casual social/business dress more complicated to figure out than the purely business dress code. You'll see guys in perfectly tailored suits sitting in the cheapest looking restaurant; they go there because it has the best steak in town even though it looks like a dive. Meanwhile, someone from a rich agro family will be in an expensive restaurant wearing worn out Wrangler jeans, work boots and a denim shirt; they had to come to the city from the finca and couldn't be bothered to change.

I hope it's a great experience for you!
post #7 of 8
Mexico City might be the most formal in Latam other than Santiago, in the circles political and financial circles that you describe. Dark colors, mainly mid-grey and charcoal, and sometimes navy. French cuffs. Sao Paulo is a little more business casual, less ties however usually a nice sports jacket in the same circles. Panama actually v dressy in those circles, and dark colors rule. BsAs would be shades of grey, plain color shirts w/no cufflinks, lots of darker striped ties or Hermes (ditto in DF). You will find tailors down there the more you venture out.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your help. I'll let you know how everything turns out! Excited about the opportunity and, of course, changing up my wardrobe a bit.
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