Dress for Success: Business Attire in Brazil

No matter where you go for business, you must look the part. You wouldn’t do business with someone going to meetings in a swim suit or a tuxedo and top hat, would you? Not that you would ever do that, but if you’re travelling for business and aren’t aware of what‘s considered appropriate attire, you may be giving yourself an unfair disadvantage.

So, here you are, reading this because you have a series of important business meetings to attend; what are you going to wear? Some Brazilian business people will dress fairly casually at the office, but they generally expect visiting foreigners (you) to dress in appropriate business attire.

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Men are expected to wear suits, but lightweight fabrics are acceptable to accommodate the warmer climate. Three piece suits are generally associated with people in an executive position, and two piece suits indicate one is of office worker status. Your tie should be solid or conservatively patterned. I know, I know, you love your casual-Friday tie with all the funny cartoon characters on it, but it’s best to err on the conservative side of things.


This can be tricky because, though Brazilians in general put emphasis on attire, women tend to “dress to impress” and some do so a bit less conservatively than women in other countries. Your best bet is to remain business appropriate (in order to keep from going too far the other way) while maintaining a sense of fashion and femininity. If your hair is long enough, you may want to keep it in an up-do; some people think leaving long hair loose isn’t appropriate for business, so consider packing hair elastics for ponytail styles. Also, if you’re carrying a purse avoid putting it on the ground; this action lands on the bad side of a superstition having to do with money.

Both sexes would do well to keep their shoes looking clean and polished, and their fingernails (if they aren’t already) looking neat. Avoid wearing expensive watches and extravagant jewelry, as these objects are popular targets for street robbery.

No matter where you’re going, first impressions are important, so if you just aren’t sure what would be appropriate for the industry you work in, call ahead and ask someone. If you make an effort to fit in, people will take notice and reciprocate by making an effort to accept and include you.

Don’t stop at fashion, why not go the extra mile and see how good your Portuguese is with our free online level test? Then contact us to take the next steps towards learning Portuguese! A few phrases go a long way in making a good first impression.