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What to wear to business meeting with fancy pants Americans

(34 Posts)
Im0gen Fri 11-Nov-16 08:20:43

Background - I work in a fairly traditional but unstylish industry . Men and women wear smart / causal, unless they have a client meeting. To meet clients, senior women wear dresses / suits from Hobbs / Jaegar / House of Fraser at best. M&S style wouldn't raise an eyebrow.

I've never asked anyone where they buy their clothes from BTW, that's just my impression.

Meeting - is supposedly informal one with CF types who want to buy our business, so it's important that we look reasonably trustworthy and business like people. Meeting is at their hotel as they are in transit back to US.

I am a middle aged woman. My personal style is Scandivanian architect in navy and grey.

I have a wardrobe full of smart ish type clothes for work - jersey dresses, knitted jackets, smart trousers which I wear with flat shoes and stylish tops, cashmere knitwear.

Can I just dress as me or do I need to do American Cororate Woman and if so how ?

DianaT1969 Fri 11-Nov-16 11:46:30

I would dress as you. Your style sounds great.

CharlesBakerHarris Fri 11-Nov-16 11:49:05

I've found that Americans are generally less formal than we are. Go with what you have, but choose the outfit that makes you feel the best!

Im0gen Fri 11-Nov-16 12:48:26

Thank you, that's very reassuring. They seem very traditional and conservative ( the whole team are white, male and southern ) and I was worried that I might have to have big hair and make up and wear American tan tights and court shoes.

I've only had limited business dealings in the US and the staff I've met have been much more diverse in term of ethnicity, gender and nationality . So I'm a bit out of my depth here 😧

shirkingworking Fri 11-Nov-16 14:00:59

Definitely dress as you. Your style sounds fab. Maybe get a blow dry and your nails done to look really groomed - more professional US women do this than the English. My hair is not generally smooth and nice so I feel much better with a blow dry but not an issue if you have stylish hair most days anyway!

Im0gen Fri 11-Nov-16 14:15:18

Thank you, I wasn't fishing for compliments on my style, honest . More just trying to give a sense of how far away I might be from the required look.

I think what's in my head is Sue Ellen from Dallas < shows age >

Good tip re nails - I normally don't bother blush so will make an effort. Will short and nude polish do? Please tell me I don't need to go long fake and red ? < faints >

Hair is chin length bob so normally quite neat but zero potential for Big Hair.

I've googled / searched Pinterest for things like "corporate American style " etc and the images I get are frankly terrifying.

SenecaFalls Fri 11-Nov-16 14:28:15

I might have to have big hair and make up and wear American tan tights and court shoes.

I'm Southern; we do not live in the 1980s. smile I do not have big hair and I haven't worn pantyhose since 1995. I am a professional. I do always have my nails done and hair well-groomed.

Your style sounds fine.

KatharinaRosalie Fri 11-Nov-16 14:34:52

Go as yourself. You're not American, no need to dress as one.
But yes, manicure and maybe a blow-dry would be a good idea. Short nails are totally fine.

e1y1 Fri 11-Nov-16 15:31:02

Actually, UK fashion is actually more "fashion forward" than the US - we are much more willing to be more adventurous with clothing.

Would say, dress smart, but agree with manicure and hair definitely.

KatharinaRosalie Fri 11-Nov-16 15:33:54

Yes, US corporate style is definitely more conservative. I'm pretty sure our US headquarters considers me somewhat quirky, because my suits are sometimes in other colours than gray, navy and black. grin

SenecaFalls Fri 11-Nov-16 16:34:13

Style for women is less conservative in the South, which surprises people sometimes. Because it is a warmer climate, brighter colors, lighter fabrics, and bare legs are acceptable.

Im0gen Fri 11-Nov-16 17:52:22

Thank you all. Yes, this company are based on the southern US. Which is a totally new culture to me . They are amazingly polite and I am getting used to work emails that tell me how wonderful it is that I can make a meeting and wishing me a blessed vacation . It's so very different from European business style .

And yes I realise it's me that stuck in my 1980s ideas. Or maybe Gone with the wind . Though it it is a bit weird that they are all white men. Seriously, every single manager and director and board member . It's quite discombobulating grin . Maybe that's what reminds me of the Eighties. I used to be the only woman on my floor who wasn't a secretary shock and everyone was white.

Seneca , what do you wear on your legs if no panty hose ? Do you only wear pants suits to work ?

Will do nails and make up.

SenecaFalls Fri 11-Nov-16 18:13:42

Im0gen, I do usually wear trousers, but not a matched suit. My workplace is business casual most of the time, but for meetings in other venues or for presentations (I do quite a bit of public speaking), my uniform this time of year is slim leg black or gray trousers, brighter colored silk blouse in a solid or print, and a jacket with 3/4 sleeves (I like to wear bracelets), also usually black or gray, but sometimes red. Mid-heeled peep-toe shoes, no pantyhose. If I do wear a dress, my legs are bare. Dresses are very popular these days, but I have not seen anyone wearing pantyhose for years.

It is odd that all of the people you are dealing with are men. I should also point out that there are regional differences in the South as well. I live in Florida (the culturally Southern part of the state), which is overall more casual than the rest of the South

SenecaFalls Fri 11-Nov-16 18:14:30

Oh and in the summer, I wear lighter and brighter colors.

Bluntness100 Fri 11-Nov-16 18:25:34

My work is very corporate and yes I work for an American company, and yes southern American, there is no expectation to have big hair, I assure uou, in fact most the American women I work with when I am in the states don't, I think uou have been watching to much real housewives or something. They dress and look just like British corporate women.

Corporate for me is a trouser suit or a tailored shift dress and tailored jacket, if trousers a shell top under my Jacket, yes with heels, and tidy hair and light make up , I don't wear nail polish. I wear nude tights and shoes if it's an important meeting instead of bare legs if I'm wearing a shift dress.

I would say go as you are. There is no point buying an outfit for a day. Plenty british companies have all white male managers. If they are corporate, forget the stereo types. All countries have them and they are normally inaccurate and fairly derogatory, these are just people and professionals at that,

SingaSong12 Fri 11-Nov-16 18:35:16

Just go with your own style. One thing I've noticed about different countries is that the people expect foreigners to be different. You have a certain expectation of what the Americans will be wearing, they may have that of British people, particularly if they do quite a bit of business in the U.K. For example I know that the CVs/resume for my American cousins (for jobs in America) will say things like "I'm brilliant". They know if I did that in the UK an employer would probably think I was boasting too much.

oldlaundbooth Sat 12-Nov-16 14:31:45

This was a fairly eye opening thread, good for a chuckle too.

BagelGoesWalking Sat 12-Nov-16 14:41:01

I had tv on mute when Question Time was on, knew one panel member was American straight away without sound. It was the polish in her style, not the clothes just the hair, makeup, nails, all done and somehow that bit more glossy and polished.

JanetStWalker Sat 12-Nov-16 15:04:36

I'd get a professional blow dry, manicure and make sure my teeth were looking their absolute best.

Your personal style sounds just great as it is. Sound very exciting, hope it all goes well for you. smile

Im0gen Sat 12-Nov-16 19:43:28

Thanks for the link , I shall pour a glass wine and enjoy.

Glossy and polished may be a hurdle too high for me.

I've found a charcoal grey dress that would do but now I'm worried about my legs, because I note that Seneca says no tights. I'm not going bare legged to a work meeting in London in November! Do American business women really not wear tights all winter?

Bluntness100 Sat 12-Nov-16 19:44:46

No they don't. Not the ones I know anyway,

Im0gen Sat 12-Nov-16 19:46:06

Oh and thanks for the good wishes Janet 😀

Im0gen Sat 12-Nov-16 19:46:43

Bluntness - even when it's freezing and snowing outside ?

mirpuppet Sat 12-Nov-16 20:02:14

Tights are fine in cold weather.

Seneca lives in Florida.

pinkmagic1 Sat 12-Nov-16 20:07:26

America is a big country. I imagine women in the north would wear tights in winter just like in the UK.

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