A groomed appearance and a style of dress appropriate for your professional situation go a long way to making a good first impression. Your appearance and clothes are frequently the first thing that other people perceive about you.
Your interview and first day in your new company
For your interview or your first day in your new job, you can ask your new employer about dress code or get an idea yourself by looking at the company Web site – from photos of employees, for example. In the business sphere, especially at business negotiations, business meals or on formal occasions such as an interview, Germans tend to prefer a conservative way of dressing. A businesslike manner will therefore also be mirrored in your clothes.
Business dress for men and women
For formal occasions such as an interview, business outfit number one in Germany is a suit. Colours tend to be discreet. Men’s suits are generally dark grey or blue, or brown. They are worn with a light shirt; the only individual touch your outfit can have is the tie. Ties with Santa Claus figures or other such prints are to be avoided, however. Your socks should also match your shoes and suit.
The dress code for women usually dictates a jacket-and-skirt combination or a trouser suit. Avoid too bright a choice of colour or colour combinations in your clothing. You can round off your outfit with smart shoes that match the colour of your outfit. Women and men alike should wear shoes, not sandals. For women, the rule of thumb is that your heels should not be too high (no higher than 6cm).
Business outfits that show too much skin are generally not suitable everyday work attire. For women, this means that blouses and tops should not be low-cut and shoulders should be covered. Skirts should not be too short and should come down to at least one handbreadth above the knee. If you opt for a skirt and jacket or skirt and top, wear them with tights. If you want to be on the safe side, take an extra pair to replace them. Men should take care to wear long trousers and socks that do not reveal the legs (even when sitting). Shirts are worn buttoned up to the top. With well-cut, quality clothes you will not only feel good, you will also be emphasising your esteem for the company, your superiors and your customers.
Ask friends and acquaintances who work in the same line of business in Germany. A formal business look is not expected everywhere. The "right” style of clothing can vary from sector to sector. On a building site you will dress in a different way than in the creative or financial sector. During your first few days in your company take a good look around and ask if there are any unwritten rules – “casual Friday”, for example, on which business dress can be replaced by more casual dress.