Climate and Region
Situated on the Baltic Sea across from Finland, Estonia is a sparsely populated country that is covered by primeval forests and wooded swamplands. The overall climate in Estonia is generally warmer than its neighboring countries, due to its position in the warm Gulf Stream. Still, cold weather gear may be required, depending on the specific season and itinerary. For most business travelers, the capital city of Tallinn will be the destination.
Tallinn features cold winters, cool springtime temperatures, rainy autumns, and moderately warm summers. Winter occurs between the months of November and January, and the days are short, with about six hours of daily sunlight. January is typically the coldest month, as it has daily average temperatures of around -5°C (23°F), but sometimes the temperatures can drop to as low as around -20°C (-4°F). Heavy snowfall and snowstorms are quite common during the winter months. Average summer temperatures, from May to September, are around 18°C (65°F), but may reach as high as 30°C (86°F). While the summer season does feature dry days, thunderstorms often occur at the end of the day. The autumn and spring months feature average daily temperatures around 5°C (41°F). These seasons are often foggy, with a cool and humid feel.
Therefore, business travelers should pack sweaters and light jackets for the summer months, and they should pack heavy coats and sweaters for the winter months. Raingear, including umbrellas and raincoats, is advisable all year. If you plan to visit during the winter months, bring boots appropriate for snow.
Meetings and Presentations
Business attire in Estonia is conservative and formal. Estonian men typically wear dark or medium-colored conservative suits, white or light-colored shirts, and ties to work, and they will expect their visiting counterparts to do the same. Though some Estonian women dress in a more provocative manner than visitors may be used to, visiting women should bring stylish, yet classic and conservative clothing to avoid unwanted attention. Some appropriate business wear for women includes business suits, pants and blouses, and dresses. Estonians pay attention to quality shoes, as well, and they will examine a foreigner's shoes as a barometer of his or her success. Depending on your industry, you may be able to wear more business casual attire. Visitors are also advised to avoid displays of wealth in the form of expensive garments or jewelry. Wearing these items may provoke feelings of inferiority or resentment in your Estonian counterparts.
Social and Networking Events
Social occasions in Estonia outside the office will require different types of clothing depending on the event. To show respect for the host, visitors should dress well for standard business dinners at a host's home or at a restaurant. For example, men should wear a jacket and tie, while women should wear dresses or conservative yet fashionable pants and blouses. For formal events, a suit and tie is appropriate for men, while women may wear conservative evening wear, such as dressy pantsuits. For informal events, visitors should dress comfortably, but modestly.
Article written for World Trade Press by Jessica Kirby.
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