When I was in Sundsvall last week doing my training sessions at SCA, one of the topics that came up as dress codes. Except for certain sectors, such as banking and insurance and politics (at times), Swedes do not usually wear suits to work.
I’m told that when English visitors come to visit their Swedish counterparts, the men power-dress in suits and ties during the day and then change to jeans and a smart casual style in the evening. The Swedes do the opposite and like to wear a suit if they are going out to eat at a restaurant.
White tie, black tie, lounge, cocktail, business, business casual, smart casual: all the different dress codes out there can be very confusing. Employers and hosts are not always as clear as they ought to be on this topic and whole books have been written on the subject. If in doubt, over-dress is my motto. Nothing embarrassing than being badly under-dressed.
The British are more generally more formal than the Scandinavians. Starting from when we have to wear school uniform and address our teachers as Mr Jones or Ms Smith. None of this use of first names in the UK!
The story of Bradford headteacher, Elizabeth Churton, who sent 152 schoolkids home in one day because they were incorrectly dressed, made the headlines last week. She’s become a national hero is the eyes of some sectors of the public.
It would never happen in Sweden although I notice a sneaking admiration for the strictness of the UK school system.
Here for your amusement is a 1950s film showing how US high school kids should not dress.