Manila - Post Report Question and Answers

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

At work most people are business casual. Most people are casual in public. I've only ever seen people formal at the Marine Ball. - Mar 2023

Embassy dress code was formal, but has relaxed a bit since the pandemic. Public places most people wear comfortable clothes - flip flops are common. - Mar 2023

Manila is fairly casual, but modest. - Apr 2021

More casual than the rest of Asia. I started out wearing a suit and tie to meet high-level government officials, but the epitome of class is a "barong tagalog" shirt made from pineapple fiber. As a result, I began ditching the tie and wearing a suit with an open collar. After a while, I ditched the jacket in most cases too. There are events for formal dress (weddings, balls, ceremonies), but I have used a local tailor. - Oct 2020

People dress pretty nicely here . I think it seems pretty conservative as well. Some restaurants have dress codes. - Feb 2020

Work varies from business casual to suits. Public places is also a range. Formal dressing is not required for anything except formal events. For women in the workplace stockings are not required but closed-toe shoes seem to be preferred at work. - May 2018

Embassy dress code ranges from business casual to suits, depending on your agency and section. The local business community is somewhat less formal than the US, largely due to the hot weather, although it’s not uncommon to see businessmen in a suit and tie. Filipino men also frequently wear a "barong tagalog" for business dress, and it’s perfectly acceptable for expats to do the same (even for Embassy employees). - Feb 2017

Most Consular, PAS, and USAID officers wear business casual. The local dress shirt, or "barong," is popular with male employees. Most other sections tend to wear business attire. The good news is that a normal barong is viewed locally as the same as business attire, while a nice pineapple cloth barong (about $100) is equivalent to black-tie. Formal attire events are frequent. When held inside most Filipinos and about 1/3 of the expats will wear a dress barong. When held outside a barong is the rule. - Jul 2016

Business casual. It's hot so people wear the local dress clothes which are a bit cooler. - Jan 2016

Business casual, with a focus on light layers due to the constant heat and humidity. - Jan 2016

Business - Sep 2015

It's dressy, but men can wear barongs if they choose. - Aug 2015

Much more casual than I'm used to. Fairly casual barongs are worn at the Embassy and in the malls it is a flip flop and shorts culture. - Aug 2015

Fairly casual. A barong can be substituted for a suit. - Sep 2014

Expats appear to generally dress less formal than the Filipino people. It is normal to see expats dressed in shorts and t-shirts, whereas male Filipinos seldom wear shorts, and then most often wear a short or long-sleeve buttoned shirts. - Jan 2014

Business casual at the Embassy and casual clothing in public. - Dec 2013

Depends on your job and which office you're in. Anywhere from jeans (for LES) to business casual, to suits. In public you can wear almost anything. - Nov 2013

Work depends on the section, my husband wears a suit every day. In public you can wear whatever you'd wear in the U.S. - Aug 2013

At work, the dress code is business casual, but a lot of people wear ties. Not many wear suits because the heat is a factor. - Apr 2013

For men, a short-sleeve Barong and slacks is sufficient. This was a highlight of my time here. - Feb 2013

Business casual. - Sep 2012

Just try to stay comfortable and dry in the heat..."Barongs" are popular with the new officers. - May 2012

Barongs (the Filipino national dress -- short sleeve shirt) is accepted anywhere and considered proper office-wear. People at the Embassy choose to wear that instead of a suit/tie, since it's a lot more comfortable. You can get them made to your measurements, and even pants, for about $20/piece. Women wear western clothes to the office, like you would expect in the US.As for socializing, anything goes, shorts and flipflops is fine, unless you're off to something fancy. - Mar 2012

Men wear a barong, which is both dressy and casual (lucky guys). Women usually wear pretty business casual. The Embassy is very cold, but outside is really hot. - Jan 2012

Business casual at work unless you meet with a government official. Ties are unheard of outside of Manila. Weekend wear is shorts, jeans, or khakis. Whatever you feel comfortable wearing in a hot and humid climate. - Jul 2011

Public: Very casual (sundresses, shorts, jeans -- all are acceptable).Work depends on where you work -- business casual is common. Expat men frequently adopt a Philippine "barong" or dress shirt and that is perfectly acceptable in all work and casual environments. - May 2011

The Philippines is a very casual place, and a t-shirt is accepted just about everywhere. Work attire typically consists of a dress shirt and or local barong if you are male, or pants or a skirt with a top if you are female. Dressing up is somewhat rare, but also always accepted. - Feb 2010

In public, jeans and nice shirt the norm with sandals or flip-flops. People tend to dress nice here and care about their appearance. - Jan 2010

Work places are generally business casual, and the dress code for the general public is very casual. Jeans are a staple here. - Jul 2009

Not sure, depends on works. However, Filipinos generally are modest and don't wear swim suits to the beach so be prepared to be the foreign scandal when you come. - Apr 2009

Smart casual and fashion forward, particularly for women. Men rarely wear suit jackets and a barong (Filipino shirt that is worn untucked) is considered appropriate work wear (formal versions can be worn in lieu of black-tie). - Jun 2008


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