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any ideas how to dress for a trade fair in China?

(18 Posts)
lolaismyfavoriteandmybest Mon 10-Aug-09 19:27:26

It will be in Beijing in September so it will probably still be really warm. Do I have to wear a suit? Are trouser suits OK? how about necklines and sleeve lengths?? I'm in technical sales support and will be meeting all our important customers.

Its my first experience of doing business in China so any info greatfully received

CMOTdibbler Mon 10-Aug-09 19:47:02

JourneyWoman is a very useful website ime to find out the social norms for an area.

I haven't made it to China yet (still awaiting clearance to sell there), but when I have had groups visiting, I was advised that fairly modest was good - long sleeves, not too figure hugging on top or low necklines, and reasonably sombre colours.

You need to be careful on pointing and business card handling too. Some good advice [[ http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/china.htm here]]

lolaismyfavoriteandmybest Mon 10-Aug-09 19:57:54

just checked out JourneyWoman. thanks. I'm going to struggle.

i am tall blonde and large of nork so I'm going to have a nightmare tr ying not to draw attention to myself.

and most of my clothes are bright pink red or lime green....

will check other link if I ever get dd to settle

lolaismyfavoriteandmybest Wed 12-Aug-09 17:09:38

still looking for more information as journey women advice about China was more for holiday travel and other site didn't cover dress.

so bumping...

slalomsuki Wed 12-Aug-09 17:23:00

I worked in China a few years back in Beijing and Shanghai and did visits to a few other cities further away from the coast and consequently slightly more conservative. My first visit coincided with a trade show in Shanghai

My suggestion is do a trouser suit for the show and don't be afraid to be able to take your jacket off. Don't do too revealing but a nice top/blouse will be fine and short sleeves will be OK since you may not have air con. Western chinese will have money and will probably be better dressed than you since they will be paid in US dollars if employed by a western company and the other chinese people will try to dress up. They will bring their kids to the stand even if its a heavy engineering company and will be looking for giveaways ie pens or keyrings for the kids.

If you get in to negotiating you know you have secured a deal if they ask you to eat with them, I once got asked to eat at 0930 and then went for a "lunch" until 2pm with them. Watch out for the toilets in restaurants since they may be no more than a bucket if the chinese have choosen the restaurant. Go when you can since you may never know when the next suitable loo will appear! If you get invited for dinner watch out as they ply you with the local brew...its leathal and they may try to negotiat with you after dinner.

Have fun and enjoy the culture. Its not how you imagine it will be

lolaismyfavoriteandmybest Wed 12-Aug-09 17:24:31

what is the opinion on kaftanish tops which are loose and floaty and cover but are fairly thin material?

I'm worried about baking in the heat all covered up from neck to ankle!

MmeLindt Wed 12-Aug-09 17:30:46

Slalomsuki
That was a fascinating insight into Chinese business practice. Do you know our From Our Own Correspondent thread on the Living Overseas topic? Maybe you would like to post on there, giving us an idea of life in China.

My friend is in China at present and she has just sent me an email telling me how hot and above all humid it is.

Lola
You might want to post a link to this thread on the Living Overseas topic.

slalomsuki Wed 12-Aug-09 17:35:32

OK for casual dinners but you need someting more formal for the show. The Chinese are actually very status orientated and don't really do casual very well.

i would stick to short sleeved tops and plenty of water.

Are you flying direct or via Hong Kong?

If via somewhere else then take some spare clothes in your hand luggage in case yours goes missing/delayed. chinese ladies are much finer boned than us weterners and clothes don't go up to UK sizes either width or length. I speak form experience here.

Buy cashmere from a department store and get a chinese person to show you export quality cashmere. It a third of the price in the UK and much better quality than say M & S

slalomsuki Wed 12-Aug-09 17:38:21

MmeLindt I never knew there was such a thread on here.

I am not in China now but in France as I type but thats no nearly as exciting!

MmeLindt Wed 12-Aug-09 17:47:11

FOOC

Please pop in and tell us a bit about life in China, or in France.

I am just over the border in Switzerland, near Geneva and there are a few French MNetters around.

slalomsuki Wed 12-Aug-09 18:03:36

Will check it out.

I have travelled a lot over the years but only really do France and Uk now. It may start again soon though.

Going back to the China thing and I read the business cards sentence agin. You need to present your business card to the chinese formally holding the two corners and present it to them as though it was an open menu. When you get theirs you need to study it carefully and for what seems like an extended period of time and then carefully put it somewhere. This tems from the culture when business cards were hard to come by and were only for the top people. If you go a lot i would suggest that you get a chinese name since it will help you getting a better rate on iternal flights and hotels etc. The chinese will all have a second name propbably based on a character out of an old book by Bronte or Shakespear since that is all their parents were allowed to read. I am sure this will change and there will be a few Brooklyns and beckhams coming through soon.

lolaismyfavoriteandmybest Wed 12-Aug-09 18:12:47

i'm flying via Dubai. I can imagine I'm not going to be able to pick up suitable clothes so I'm a bit paranoid about the luggage...

I've got a beige linen suit which I thought might do but its a not always conservative enough for some events. (where the only colour apart from black and white that you see is charcoal grey)

its pretty and it suits me though so I figure I'm a tall blonde western female scientist. I'm going to stand out! so as long as I am respectfully and modestly dressed I'm planning to wear my normal range of colours and play on my differentness.

does this sound like a reasonable stratergy?

Any tips on what to wear for the flight by the way? I've never flown long haul or buisness class before so I'm worried about that too!

slalomsuki Wed 12-Aug-09 18:26:25

Go with what is comfortable for you for the flight and if you are going business class do take a pull along travel bag with clothes. You may be OK going via Dubai but it is very difficult to buy clothes in china if you are bigger than a size 8 and more than 5.2 tall. You will tower abover the chinese as you walk along as street. China is the only place I have ever stopped traffc when i crossed the road.

Beige linen will be fine but are you really going to keep it clean for the whole of the show. Go with trousers and a top if you don't have other sits. Grey blue or black are fine. The chinses crave being western but they also have years of conforming to shake off so anything out of the ordinary will attract attention. If I had male colleagues with me they used to get targetted all the time by chinese girls looking to marry them. I used to attract the other western men just looking for a conversation and a brief restbite from the "marry me" pressures. It was a laugh from the outside but incredibly annoying. Chinese me do touch you though if they can but be prepared to be firm if they do.

Failing that you could always wear a white scientist coat!

slalomsuki Wed 12-Aug-09 18:26:27

Go with what is comfortable for you for the flight and if you are going business class do take a pull along travel bag with clothes. You may be OK going via Dubai but it is very difficult to buy clothes in china if you are bigger than a size 8 and more than 5.2 tall. You will tower abover the chinese as you walk along as street. China is the only place I have ever stopped traffc when i crossed the road.

Beige linen will be fine but are you really going to keep it clean for the whole of the show. Go with trousers and a top if you don't have other sits. Grey blue or black are fine. The chinses crave being western but they also have years of conforming to shake off so anything out of the ordinary will attract attention. If I had male colleagues with me they used to get targetted all the time by chinese girls looking to marry them. I used to attract the other western men just looking for a conversation and a brief restbite from the "marry me" pressures. It was a laugh from the outside but incredibly annoying. Chinese me do touch you though if they can but be prepared to be firm if they do.

Failing that you could always wear a white scientist coat!

slalomsuki Wed 12-Aug-09 18:28:24

sorry for the double post

lolaismyfavoriteandmybest Wed 12-Aug-09 20:29:48

I have a couple of conservative black suits but I'm worried about cooking myself! I faint when I get too hot!!! and i usually team them with bright red or pink tops and accessories so that might also need a rethink....

but I have two pairs of linen trousers and a floor length linen skirt to go with the one jacket so I could probably manage just with that. it would probably look like I'm not getting changed to the casual observer though! I'm planning to wear the jacket to travel in so it doesn't get too creased (and is there at the other end) but I don't know how formal to dress for the flight, I'm guessing comfort is the main thing but I don't want to look completely out of place in the business lounge.

I will be with a male colleague so that should be fun to watch him get pestered. thanks for the warnings, I hate it when people invade my space so that will be stamped on pretty quickly! there will also be the issue of where they can reach! I'm about 5 ft 10 in my heels with a G cup bust...

its strange for me to have to dress up. I think thats why I'm stressing so much about it, the white coat is my normal work wear over my jeans! so if we are talking comfortable thats what I should be wearing

CMOTdibbler Wed 12-Aug-09 20:40:28

I do a lot of trade shows (am also a tall scientist grin), and you do need to look conservative to get respect. I have thought of growing a beard at times as often people think you are booth totty, and you have to persuade them that you are serious.

No one will notice if you are wearing the same suit with variations - my packing policy is no more than two jackets with various dresses/skirts/trousers, and no one ever comments. Make sure you have comfy shoes though - it's a long day on the exhibition floor.

Don't worry about dressing up for the flight - I usually wear a jersey tunic dress and leggings as it's comfortable. No one gives a stuff in the business class lounge what you look like

You'll need a business card holder btw - it's important to put the cards away in something that looks like you cherish them

slalomsuki Wed 12-Aug-09 21:23:00

Black suits will be fine as will a skirt and jacket. Colour is fine but not too over the top since you want to be respected and not look like you are on the way to a party of a festival. If you have business cards make sure they have all your qualifications on them even if you have done a further degree etc since they are impressed by letters.

I have not found Chinese businesses to be sexist and I am an engineer but even so it is still unusual for a western woman to be doing business there. They will sit you based on hierarchy at a table for a meal which proves entertaining while they try to get it right.

Don't worry about the flight, just travel in something comfortable and have a cadi or a jumper for when its cold over night. Also your feet will swell on a flight so make sure you have loose fitting shoes or trainiers for putting on afterwards. You will also need to think about your shoes for the tradeshow stand since you are likely to be on your feet for a long time. Try to have two pairs of shoes and swap them day about.

Make sure you see the sites in Beijing including taking a trip to see the great wall. You can't miss tianamen square since its huge and in the middle but also make sure you go to the market and haggle hard for all those knock off items. Some are guenuine and some are fake but its worth it for the fun. I have a Gucci watch that has worked for 10 years and cost $1

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