Dress code in Germany: What to wear, what not to wear


Updated on Apr 10 • 4 minute read

The dress code in Germany shows that the German companies often still follow a suit-and-tie policy, although start-ups and multinationals alike are trying to break away. That's how corporations as Adidas encourage their (future) employees to dress as they feel comfortable (as long as the shoe brand fits in, of course!); but that's not quite the norm in Germany yet.

You wonder what do people wear in Germany? We will show you the dress code in Germany, get you up to speed on the industries and prepare you for your job interview and first day at work in clothing.

What to wear in Germany? The German business dress code

Whilst in your private life your clothes ought to reflect who you are and what you feel you want to wear, the business dress code in Germany is often imposed by the corporate culture. And so you might find yourself wearing your private clothes at work, but it's just as likely that you'll have to swap jeans for trouser suits and instead of your messy hair bun you'll have to comb your hair more often.

The dress code in Germany depends on the industry

There’s no room for a blanket definition of the dress code in Germany, as it ultimately varies not only from the company culture but equally from whether you are in contact with customers and the industry in which you work.

Banks and insurance companies, for example, are still among the most conservative types where you have to slip into your (trousers) suit every day.

However, if you're going to spend your days in the office without customer contact, as an engineer, for example, you might be in a position to jump into more comfortable outfits. Not necessarily torn trousers and flip-flops, but casual trousers such as chinos or maybe jeans.

A pro tip: many employees keep it casual on a day-to-day basis and have their chic jacket or shiny shoes hanging in their locker at work. So to speak, preparation seems to run in the DNA of Germans and it goes without saying that they are well prepared for any spontaneous visits from clients.

What to wear in Germany for your job interview

There's a golden rule of thumb for a job interview in Germany: rather overdressed than underdressed. Ultimately, you try to give a good impression and you’ll leave it with a professional appearance in Germany; in other words, with business attire following the business dress code in Germany.

Unless you wish to make a statement or express your personality, you might want to pick a suit in discreet colours for formal occasions such as a job interview. One glance at the desks in German offices shows that men usually wear dark grey, blue or brown suits and a light-coloured shirt underneath.

The socks and tie is the only detail that leaves you room for your individual touch. However, conservative German companies are a bit free of fun, so you might want to avoid colourful embroidered motifs here during the interview.

So, what do you wear as a woman during a job interview in Germany? Same same but different: you can also throw yourself into a trouser suit or if you feel comfortable in a dress, a blazer-skirt combination with tights. Oh, by the way: even in peak summer, you should wear closed shoes and not sandals.

Again, the approach is conservative: not too much skin, not too much neckline, not too much leg.

Your business outfit sends a message of professionalism and seriousness about your job.

Are you up for a job interview at the startup? Then things will probably look more relaxed. Just to be on the safe side, though, come here with some decent clothes and a pair of suit trousers and a decent shirt or blouse.

Dress code in Germany are usually a bit looser for startups

The dress code in Germany varies greatly from industry to industry, from corporation to startup. And so the smaller companies usually take a more relaxed view of the dress code. It clearly depends on which industry the startup is in: in the financial sector with a lot of customer contact you'll probably need to tuck into your business outfit from time to time, while creative agencies won't tell you what to wear.

How to prepare for dress code in Germany

Your career in Germany is about to take off and you're diving into a new job or internship in a medium-sized company or even multinational? Of course, you’d like to leave a good impression on your first day – and feel that you fit in with the company.

The easiest way is to ask for the dress code in the company directly in the interview and get a first-hand sense of what you'll be wearing on your first day. Or are you more the spontaneous type who doesn't think about what to wear on your first day until the night before? In that case, you won't be able to ask your new employer about the dress code, but you can create your own impression via their homepage or social media.

Click through the photos, their philosophy or values to get an idea of their dress code. Does the company emphasise its inclusive, international or multicultural culture? Then the dress code will probably be more open.

If you can't really get an idea of what the company's homepage is about, you should play it safe and maintain the typical German conservative dress code.

By the way: many " more conservative" companies have "casual Friday" on Fridays, where you can wear your suit without a tie and swap your dress for a more relaxed one. Better than nothing, right?

What not to wear in Germany in business

To put it simply: No, you're not going to show up at the company in Lederhosen and Dirndls. Unless you have a theme party or you'd like to kick off Oktoberfest.

Apart from that, here are a few tips on what not to wear in Germany:

  • Better wear proper jeans instead of torn or printed jeans
  • Socks are a statement, but tennis socks are still considered no-go in many companies
  • Underwear should be kept out of sight underneath your clothes and not too visible
  • Subtle colours over exotic colours
  • Excessive use of accessories
  • Skirts without tights

As mentioned, whether this applies to your company ultimately depends on the corporate culture and industry.

The dress code is a matter of the industry and the company

At the end of the day, not one dress code in Germany applies to all companies. Depending on the industry, banks and insurance companies will probably follow the strict suit-and-tie policy while creative companies with a more relaxed corporate culture might completely drop their dress code.

If you're in doubt, you might want to play it safe for your job interview or first day and get your suit out. Or, after the job interview, you could ask casually what the dress code is like in the company; you'll get a feel for it on the first day at the latest.

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