Dress code and appearance are very important to the Japanese in their business etiquette. The Japanese people are generally very formal, especially when conducting business. Despite their usual conservative attitude, the Japanese will often dress to impress in a formal business setting. The best approach to take with regard to the Japanese business dress code is to play it safe and always dress formal. Dark colors are the best choice, preferably black or dark blue for both men and women. It is also advisable to wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, as you will probably be performing that action quite often.
The Japanese will often pay close attention to ones attire, so it is always advisable to invest in business clothing that is somewhat impressive. In many cases, the Japanese host will equate a good appearance to having high corporate or social status. By allotting the right amount of effort toward your appearance and attire, you will definitely increase the odds of success. Interestingly, that rule can apply to any market in any country.
In Japanese business etiquette, business casual attire is not always considered appropriate. Still, there are some instances where it is acceptable. You can definitely get away with dressing casual in cases like sporting events, karaoke bars, and out of work social outings. However, one thing that you should always consider is that you never want to be least dressed individual in the group. Conversely, it never hurts to be the best dressed. With this in consideration, it is again a good rule of thumb to play it safe and dress well.
When doing business in Japan, there are a few things to consider when selecting your business attire. As mentioned earlier, the color of your clothing is very important. Avoid flashy colors at all costs. Brightly colored suits carry a very negative connotation in Japanese society because of the simple fact that most organized crime syndicates in Japan favor flashy suits. Also, the design of your attire should not be in any way extreme. The Japanese have a saying “The nail that sticks out gets hammered”. This is something to remember when selecting your business attire.
For men, it is always advisable to wear conservative and well-appointed business suits. Black and dark blue are the best colors, though dark brown is also acceptable. The quality of your suit and how it fits you will make a big difference, so invest in quality clothing and professional alteration. Maintain a low-key and classy demeanor. Try to impress your host without looking like you are trying too hard.
For women, dressing conservatively is even more important. The Japanese do not appreciate overly revealing clothing in the business place. Heels are also not appropriate in a business setting. If possible wear flat shoes, or very short-heeled shoes. Accessories should be avoided as well, especially if they are bright and flashy. In the Japanese work place, pants are not generally accepted as they are sometimes viewed as overly masculine. As a whole, the conservative theme applies to both men and women.