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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Dress Code Issue

My regional counterpart wanted to know the dress code for customer visits in India.
Both of us Marketing ladies were in a dilemma on what to reply or rather how to word it.
Her queries- Are skirts acceptable or are suits best?
We know that the issue of dress code is not so high with corporate clients. With globalization and travelling and the fact that India is so attractive as an investment we always have global bosses coming down to meet the Indian arm. So in a way our men folk are more than used to northward hemlines and plunging necklines. Yet every one likes a good dekkho one in a while and it didn't seem fair to subject her to the stray stares.
But we did not want to sound matronly and prim and behenji by telling her wear anything as long as it is not too short in length or too deep in the front.
We could not tell her to Indianize herself and wear a sari or a salwar suit like we try to westernise ourselves on our abroad trips by buying suits & trousers irrespective of our genetically typical Indian buttocks, so that we don't stand out and are considered one among them?
We needed to tell her about the hot sweaty summers so that she doen't bring her lovely suits and toast in them.
Ultimately we summed up our views in a few lines- it would be hot & dry, cotton would be the best material, we would be meeting corporate clients so dress code no issue, skirts are fine, knee length ok.
My question,
Was our line of thinking right?
What would you have suggested in such a situation?
Do you believe in westernising yourself for abroad visits or do you be what you are- some days Indian/ sari some days trousers? Do you feel a sense of inacceptance or lack of confidence in Indian clothes in a global setting?
Is it really an issue- wearing Indian clothes for abroad trips? All my memories of photographs had Indira Gandhi standing in the ubiquitous sari for all Global summits. Yes she stood out but she was the most visible in the crowd. I never felt anything odd about her in a sari and she was the most graceful among all similar dressed people.


Mama - Mia said...

i think what you told her was fair!!

the fact thst she asked you means that she wants to do the right thing! :)

and i feel she would be terribly uncomfy wearing salwaar kameez or saree of she hasnt ever before!

i think Indian dressing sia bsolutely fine. though i would say saree is lot better than salwar kameez for that perefct formal look! as long as you can drape it well with right pleats and perfectly folded pallu, it looks awesome!! :)

i guess most of us opt for westren wear because of its sheer comfort level and that it need lot less effort to look good!

coupla well fitted trousers with few formal blouses allows you lot of mix and match!



Something to Say said...

I completely agree with your line of advice i2w. Vis-a-vis indian clothing in a western environment - hubby and I believed that blending with the environment was essential. So I completely revamped my wardrobe -when I joined him in Canada. But I did retain my short kurtis - which looked great with jeans. However, in a business/corporate environment - I really dont know whats the right answer. I guess - it depends on how strict or flexible the corporate entity is. I know of friends in finance/consulting where the B&W look is enforced. While friends in ad agencies abroad - often delight collegues and clients by indulging in ethnic wear...

dipali said...


choxbox said...

like someone said above, i'd say it depends on the culture of the organisation in question.

Cuckoo said...

In general I think it is better to present a professional outlook to the client based on his/her comfort levels.. best to be a roman in rome! I prefer neat cotton salwars without too much jazz to it on my client visits with foreign counterparts in India. I think it gives a dignified and corporate outlook, at the same time ensuring the client is at ease culturally with an Indian. When am abroad, am usually conservatively dressed in a pair of trousers with formal full sleeve shirts.

Usha said...

I think today western wear is common in our companies even for Indians - who expects everyone to wear Indian suits and saris?
The sari in my opinion is the most elegant attire but only if you can wear it well and carry it off well - not if you drape it and strut around like a puppet on stilts.
And I used to switch to western wear on business trips abroad so that I do not attract attention by being so different. The idea was to blend and be inconspicuous not to ape them.
I think you were right in advising them about the kind of material auitable for the weather and the acceptable levels of exposure so that they do not end up being offended for being ogled at!

Itchingtowrite said...

great! i guess we are in line- neither trying to ape the west completely and end up looking uncomfortable nor trying to be too fuddy duddy

DotMom said...

I think you did great! I don't wear Indian clothes to work.. may be paisely kurti on a summer Friday. As to dress code, and blendin in, I think it really depends on who calls the hots/has the upper hand. If you do, you can dress as you like. else, you better stick to the blending-in rule.

Itchingtowrite said...

dotmom- ha ha ...who calls the hots!! the typo was very relevant