Typically when talking about business casual or professional I would think of a suit, dress with a blazer, or dress pants. After two years of working in government institutions and schools in Peru, I now laugh at the thought of showing up to a meeting or class in a suit! Today for Cultural Fact Friday I am going to explain the key to professional dress in the work place of Peru.
If you live along the Northern coast where it is hotter than a Texas summer, shorts or jeans, a tank top, and a vest are considered business casual.
If you work in the sierra where it rains half the year, professional dress includes jeans, sweaters, rain boots, and a vest.
In Peru if one really wants to demand respect in their community there is a simple trick that works every time. It is the power of the vest!
At the end of training we were given these “flattering” fishing vests with the Peace Corps logo and our names embroidered onto the chest. I remember thinking that it was a joke and being a little annoyed that I had to try and fit one more thing into my suitcase. A year into my service I actually ordered a second one! This simple wardrobe staple is the key to dressing up literally any outfit.
As Peace Corps Volunteers we are not alone, the municipalities, hospitals, and other institutions can be seen sporting their vests around town Monday-Friday. In a country where formality is everything, an official vest gives your work credibility and shows you mean business.
So the next time you see a Peru PCV rockin’ it in their vest, do not question their fashion sense… give them some love for embracing the Peruvian way and integrating into the professional culture!
What does professional dress look like in your host country? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.