By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city of Rio de Janeiro is known for its laid-back beach style with colorful clothes, bikinis, flip-flops and its high temperatures. This makes it difficult to decide what is appropriate when it comes to the workplace, because even though the business style in Rio is more atoned to the high temperatures, it still requires a certain formality.
To find the right balance between formality and fitting in, while also not getting a heatstroke, is perhaps the biggest workplace fashion challenge in Rio de Janeiro. Unlike many U.S. and European countries, complete suits and ties are hardly ever used in Rio. For men in a very formal setting, a jacket might be required, but in most jobs, suit pants if not jeans and shirts are fine.
For women, shorts skirts are accepted, but they should still be not much above the knee. Also, more colorful patterns are commonly used, as well as shorter sleeves and more cleavage than what Americans and Europeans may be used to.
Style expert Gloria Kalil recommends basic items in neutral colors, as black tends to concentrate the heat, and urges caution with shorts, miniskirts, transparent fabrics, too much make-up or perfume.
In the summer, women can wear a sleeveless dress, as long as no lingerie is visible and the neckline is not too deep, although Kalil recommends bringing a blazer for air-conditioned offices.
“People have to understand that the working wardrobe is a wardrobe apart from the one for leisure. It’s a wardrobe that has its own characteristics, both for those who work in more formal enterprises and for those working in informal settings. In both cases, dressing for work is different from what you wear to the club, to sport, to go to parties or to stay home,” Kalil continues.
In terms of what exactly is accepted in most settings, Carol Caran, fashion blogger at MaGGníficas, says, “The clothes should fit well and not be too sensual (short, low-cut, etc.). Unless the work environment has a very strict dress code, the pieces may have modern colors and prints, so you don’t have to be without personality. However, more classic colors that are easier to match are of excellent value for a versatile outfit.”
Yet, “even in an informal environment, where dressing is not as rigorous, you are still in a workplace. So, plunging necklines, tight-fitting clothes and short skirts remain banned,” Brazilian fashion pioneer Cris Arcangeli warns, adding, “But jeans, knitted shirts, pleated skirts, prints and stronger colors are allowed.”
However, all that said business fashion in Brazil varies largely across cities and branches. Dressing for business in São Paulo is already a lot more formal than in Rio de Janeiro and suits and ties are more frequently seen. Therefore, it is always good thing to verify with the employer before dressing to informally, even in Brazil.
Finding the right clothes in Rio de Janeiro shouldn’t be too difficult, as shopping centers, especially in Barra da Tijuca, are mushrooming and the fashion market in Brazil is huge and also increasingly attracting international top brands.
London-based consultancy Euromonitor calculates that sales of clothing and shoes increased by 62 percent in Brazil between 2008 and 2013, and predicts a further rise of twenty percent for 2013-2018.
“Even if the economy is stagnant, Brazil has economic pulling-power plus very favorable growth in the fashion business,” Luciane Robic, an expert at the Brazilian Institute of Fashion, told AFP.