What to Wear to Work

Over the last few decades, the Chinese business world has become more and more like the Western one. So it should be no surprise that Chinese people wear western style clothing for work. And, just like many other countries, suits and formal business attire are becoming less and less common. The primary industries that still enforce a dress code are the same worldwide: finance and the major consulting firms.

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Many banking companies in China require business suits with skirts below the knees, specific color shirts and ties, approved hair styles, and even a specific height high heel for women. Neutral colors are the standard for business wear, such as black, grey, white, and blue. Shirts should be buttoned all the way up with a tie for men or not low cut for women. Sleeveless shirts with high collars are very professional for women but men's shirts should be long sleeved.

There has been a recent change in business clothing standards for companies all around the world. Dress codes are being eliminated completely and, in some industries, casual and individual style is strongly encouraged. Technology, startup, and creative companies are driving this trend as a means to make employees feel comfortable and encourage them to embrace their own innovative styles and ideas. This change is slowly growing in China and worldwide. Depending on the office, there are still some limitations on what is considered appropriate. Shorts, tank tops, and flip flops aren't seen as appropriate everywhere but jeans and t-shirts are.

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Occasionally, male business leaders or celebrities will wear traditional Chinese clothing, like the Zhongshan suit (中山装 zhōngshān zhuāng) which was popularized by Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong. It's often worn as a sign of nationalism and representing China, especially during formal international events such as banquets or award ceremonies. Women will often wear a qipao (旗袍qípáo) for the same occasions


This article is part of our new online Chinese course. An efficient way to learn Chinese language for working and living in China.