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What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Saris are still very popular dress for locals and sarongs for men. So, you can be a bit more casual, however, in the embassy many tend to dress in suits and women dress in business attire as well. In public it is still taboo to show shoulders and knees in much of Sri Lanka, however, in Colombo and the coastal tourist areas, it is fine. Just err on the side of being conservative. - Sep 28, 2017
Sri Lankans dress nicely - very professional, however not over the top. Prepare for nice pants and blouses or dresses and for men nice shirts and pants (suits and ties only necessary when meeting with government officials and dignitaries). Spaghetti straps and short-shorts or short skirts are not looked upon favorably. Plenty of tourists go that route because of the heat, however they draw lots of attention because of their lack of respect for the culture. - Mar 20, 2017
Light summer clothes. Professional for work, modest for public. - Sep 28, 2013
Slacks, shirt and tie. Shorts outside - Sep 23, 2012
It's a conservative religious country so women should make sure their legs and arms are covered. Hot and humid weather means lightweight clothing. - Dec 7, 2011
Modest. Sleeves for women, no tank tops in public and skirts below the knee. - Feb 8, 2010
Black pants and white shirt. Shirt with tie to look professional. - Sep 7, 2008
It depend on the work place. There is no strict dress codes; just use your common sense. - Feb 26, 2008