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Dressed for executive success

Gray suits are conservative, but the colored ties could suggest that these executives mean business.
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Business Traveller

(CNN) -- Many business travelers spend more time packing their briefcase for work than their suitcase for clothes -- but what you wear can be crucial on a business trip.

With business communities expanding across the globe and with executives increasingly working with people from diverse cultures, it is essential to dress correctly in order to give the right message.

Apparel demonstrates how we project ourselves. While the aim is to look professional and reliable, it is also good to nurture a look that shows that you will get the job done.

According to the experts, the key to successful dressing is to wear simple garments that do not draw people's attention away from a business meeting.

"The important thing when it comes to grooming, as when it comes to clothes, is you do not want anything to distract from the strength and power of your ideas," Vanessa Friedman, fashion editor of the Financial Times newspaper, told CNN.

"So you do not want scraggly beards, weird hair or anything else that people would be looking at instead of listening."

For men, open-collared, multicolored shirts without a tie, obvious jewelry on the neck and hands, or a shiny suit with scruffy shoes are all elements that are likely to distract.

"For women you would not want to leave your shirt undone, so that if you lean over you reveal something you did not want to reveal," explains Friedman.

"If you have got a jacket with a belt, you do not want to leave the belt undone, because it flops around and is distracting."

According to Friedman, one obvious element that many professionals do not check is the weather at the destination they are traveling to -- a task that it is easily done via the Internet.

"You do not want to do what one female banker did. She went to Finland with three-inch heels, but they did not work in the snow," says Friedman.

"Similar things apply when you are going to warm climates. In Los Angeles, where the sun is bright, some suit fabrics which look gray in London take on a strange greenish tint (in Los Angeles)."

If you are wondering what your dress code should be, try and find out what local people wear.

Another issue is creased clothing. Many executives get off the plane and go straight to a meeting, so staying wrinkle-free is essential. Friedman suggests staying away from linen or anything too heavy that retains those folds.

"Most men's lines make suits specifically geared for travel. Some have a traveler collection where all the fibres are created so that they do not wrinkle," she explains.

In terms of style, Friedman suggests dressing from where you come -- not where you are going to -- as well as wearing something you feel comfortable in.

"Do not make any assumptions about where you are going. In France, do not assume everyone you are going to meet has a green suit. If you are in Italy, do not assume everyone's going to be wearing brown shoes," she says.

-- CNN's Leone Lakhani contributed to this report

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