Officially, there is no dress code at the European Parliament. Unofficially, the closer you are to ‘Power’, the more formal you’re supposed to dress. Assistants of MEPs and representatives of embassies are by far the best dressed trainees. Unfortunately for the guys, there are not many alternatives to a suit. To wear or not to wear a tie, that’s the question (although blazers can be left at home or exchanged for a sweater). Ladies can bring anything that resembles a dress, the days that these are supposed to be ‘over the knee’ seem to be long gone.
Mariana of the ‘A Trainee in Brussels’ blog wrote a good piece on the unofficial Dress Code (including pictures!).
Some other points:
* Casual Friday is a thing, mainly because most MEPs will have left to their home countries. (Do check first if it also applies for your department before showing up in jeans on your first Friday, there is no being overdressed at the Parliament).
* People working in the main building are dressing more formal than people further down the road.
* ‘Strasbourg week’ if a moment for the left behinds to take casual business attire to a new level.
* Strasbourg is a maze of stairs and the Brussels ASP building is very stretched out so consider yourself warned on wearing high heels and pencil skirts in which you can only take small steps. I haven’t seen more than a handful of sneakers during my time but flats will do fine.
* If you’re new to office life and you’re a woman: there is no such thing as owning too many tights.
* Stores in Brussels have adapted to the permanent influx of eurocrats. I found it hard to find formal wear in my home country since I am from a rural area, but in Brussels you can find appropriate clothing in pretty much every store. H&M, Zara, Mango etc. can be found at Rue Neuve (metro Rogier or De Brouckère), and, closer to Parliament, Porte de Namur.
If you are male and know where to find reasonably priced shoes and clothing in Brussels, enlighten us in the comments! Merci