Just because business travel takes you out of your usual environment doesn’t mean you can ignore appropriate business attire. You still need to look crisp, clean and professional, which you can do with a careful selection of must-have items. Add a few casual options to the mix, and you’ll be ready for action in the boardroom or out on the town.
Four Tops (not the band)
Forget the boring white shirt. Not only is it ho-hum, but it’s really good at showing stains and spills, and if you’re on a limited wardrobe, when traveling, you can’t just go home and change. Instead, go for a few shirts in tasteful colors or patterns (which are even better at hiding stains) that can add different looks to basic black bottoms.
Longer-sleeved shirts are most appropriate for business environments, although you can get away with shorter sleeves underneath a jacket. Note that if you’re in Europe, short sleeves on a business shirt are viewed as a bit of a fashion faux pas, especially if worn with a tie.
Related: Etiquette Tips for Your Business Trip
You can never go wrong with basic black and other neutrals, such as navy, grey and brown. Guys can stick with two pairs of trousers and a pair of classic-cut jeans. Gals can go for one pair each of trousers and jeans, including one skirt that falls just above the knee or lower into the mix.
Choose fabrics that match the season and weather at your destination.
- Winter: Tweed, cashmere, heavy wools, corduroy; velvet for women
- Summer: Lightweight linen and cotton blends
One Suit / Dress
Having at least one suit or dress on board ensures you’re ready for the most formal business environments. You can also wear the jacket and skirt / pants separately if needed.
Two high-quality blazers need to be part of your business travel wardrobe. Invest in getting them tailored for the perfect fit. Opt for a timeless cut for a staple that’ll last for years.
Bringing along an additional blazer, stylish cardigan or coat gives you additional options for warmth and style.
2 to 3 Pairs of Shoes
Business shoes are a must, and so is a casual pair (or sneakers) for running errands, working out or kicking around town. The third pair can consist of an additional business pair for variety and preventing sore feet. Or you may opt for a pair in between the formal business and casual shoes.
Optimum travel bags are roomy, sturdy and can either be carried or wheeled as needed. Leather beats out canvas or other materials for both protection and professionalism.
One more essential tip is to unpack your suitcase upon arrival as soon as possible. The less time your clothing spends crammed in a suitcase, the less wrinkled it will be. And wrinkles are never an attractive option on any business trip.
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