Dress For Success: Business Attire in Mexico
If you’re planning to head down to Mexico, whether Mexico City or a more rural area, do not be deceived by media images of wild beach parties in Cancún and other tourist resorts. Mexico is generally a very traditional, conservative country, and this goes double for the workplace. Gender roles are rather more antiquated than what you may be used to, and there is a high influence of the Roman Catholic religion on every aspect of life, including the business world. If you’re stuck as to what kind of attire will be socially acceptable at a business meeting or in the office, stick with more formal, conservative clothing, heat notwithstanding.
For men, it is best to wear a dark suit and tie from a good brand, preferably a more expensive one, to display your status. And if you’re traveling to Mexico in the summer, it is advisable to bring a suit in a lightweight, breathable material, such as cotton or linen. Be very meticulous about the details, which are guaranteed to be noticed: see that your shirt is well-pressed and your shoes (brown or black leather) are highly polished. It isn’t necessary to wear a watch, as pickpocketing is a problem even in the safer areas of Mexico.
If you’re a woman, it is appropriate to wear business slacks if you wish, but given the strict gender roles in Mexican culture, it may be better to wear a black or dark grey skirt with a suit, along with hosiery and high heels. Stay away from sandals or “peep toe” shoes, no matter if they may be appropriate in a business situation back home. A light amount of makeup and jewelry is fine, but again, it’s best if you leave the expensive accessories at home unless you want to attract attention from thieves and Gringo-hunters.
Shorts, it goes without saying, are never appropriate in Mexico for either men or women. They will not only brand you as a tourist, making you a target to the aforementioned criminals, but they will suggest to your colleagues that you are immature and unprofessional, as only Mexican children wear shorts. Even in the height of summer, you’ll just have to cover your legs and bear the heat for a couple of days. Should you arrive in the rainy season—May through November—women may wish to bring along a raincoat and boots, or a lightweight jacket. Raincoats are not so popular among men, who would be better off investing in an umbrella for their stay. Luckily, even in the rainy season it doesn’t get very cold, so you won’t need to worry about any sort of heavy coat.
To get an even more thorough understanding of what will be expected of you as a foreigner doing business in Mexico, it’s crucial that you arrive being able to speak a respectable amount of Spanish. Get started right away by sending us an inquiry, or by taking our free online Spanish language level test.