Clothes for Business Travel
Assuming that the travel is for 3 days and two nights & a 12-14 hours long work day (applicable more for the cities with tropical climate like Mumbai or Singapore), the theme of dressing up should be around comfort but without losing focus on winning (more attractive=more successful). Lot of people tend to weigh one (comfort) over another (looks) or the other way round, but believe me when I say this, the key to professional success lies in establishing the right balance of the two.
So let’s start with what kind of clothes you should carry.
Colors/patterns you should have: White, shades of light blue, ash grey, powder pink, rich cream. You can have very fine patterns in checks, pinstripes etc.
Colors/patterns you should not have: families of yellow and green, Red, Purple, Dark colored, heavy patterns and designs
Casual Shirts/Polo T-shirts
They should be in solid colors, if possible. These pieces are for the evenings, after the day is over. They also come handy in cases of any contingency. Don’t confuse these pieces with your leisurewear shirts or T-shirts. These too are part of your smart official attire. So avoid any bold graphics, fancy collars etc.
Choice of trousers totally depends on the sector you work in. I was once with a sportswear company where wearing even a chino was anti-establishment. People would generally be in their denims. On the other hand, I remembered meeting a top executive from a real estate firm in crew neck and jeans. He looked out of place and completely non-serious about our transaction. I had reasons to feel offended, though I didn’t show that to him. But you know that’s how it works. Nobody tells what they think of you. They just form impression and deal with you accordingly.
Keeping a pair of denims is always a good idea. It can be used in the evenings or while in transit. However, these denim too should be of a smart cut. No clingy fits or those baggy ones, hanging from the hips.
Business Suit: It depends on your role, purpose of traveling. It is not really a must if the tour is just a market visit unless you are the top boss. However if there are meetings, conferences lined up in the office or in any other formal setting, and if it is to do with winning a deal or a sales account, not wearing a suit is a sure-shot harakiri. Don’t commit it. No harm in wearing one than not doing so.
If you are carrying a suit, then you don’t need to carry an extra jacket. You can avoid one pair of trousers as well. The Golden rule of travel holds always: Travel light
Number: Two pairs
One formal black shoes with laces (to go with almost everything including denim) and one set of loafers (for evenings and traveling). Don’t carry slippers or sandals. Go to breakfast fully ready in your shoes. Sports shoes are okay if you are serious about fitness but don’t wear those anywhere else other than while following your regime. Then, carry a sports T-shirt and shorts or tracksuit as well. Don’t be seen in your hotel’s gym treadmill in sports shoes and chinos!
These are small items and don’t take much space. Carrying a few extra pairs doesn’t hurt but it definitely will keep your feet dry and non-smelling. You should change it twice a day if your day extends beyond 8 hours.
For traveling executives, their luggage is the most prominent part of their style. I see a lot of executives running around at the airports of the country with their backpacks hung sideways on one of their shoulders. It looks bad. It looks worse if it is put on both the shoulders like Army men (Army folks look good in their attire because they are dressed for the occasion, boots, helmet, dungarees and backpacks). It does feel convenient but looks awful on a business traveler. I remembered seeing one executive from a well-known IT firm who wore two backpacks, one on his back and one front and was lugging around a suitcase at the Mumbai Airport after the security check. I just couldn’t understand him at all. I know many will read this with disdain and suspicion & it’s perfectly fine with me. This post is meant for those who would like to look good, not for everyone.
So the backpack is OUT. If you have to carry a laptop, carry it in a smart satchel. The other very good option is to have a nice overnighter trolley suitcase with a laptop compartment. It not only looks cool, you also are able to avoid an extra baggage item.
Keep in mind that your travel suitcase is like a capsule wardrobe for you. A read up of10 essential items in a man’s wardrobe may help you further.