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Conference Interpreters should not be too conspicuous, does this also apply to what you should wear at work?

Male interpreters have an easier time of it: suit with or without tie. But what about female colleagues? Do you adapt your style depending on the client or the type of meeting?

Do you agree with what Monica Heras says in this video from Lourdes de Rioja?

asked 11 Jun '13, 06:10

Marta%20Piera%20Marin's gravatar image

Marta Piera ...

edited 11 Jun '13, 06:31

Can you summarize here exactly what she says?

(11 Jun '13, 14:01) Andy

She basically says that you are what you wear. You can use what you wear to show those qualities an interpreter has to have – self confidence, politeness, knowing how to behave … The two key words are : unaffectedness and discretion. You should be yourself and not wear anything you wouldn’t wear in your daily life. In simultaneous interpretation you are behind glass but you should never forget that you get in an out of the booth, and you have to be consistent with the image you give during the whole day. In consecutive interpretation you should be even more discreet as you are more exposed and interpreters should be heard but not seen. Interpreters should avoid plunging necklines, short skirts, tight clothing and pay attention to personal hygiene. Basically, less is more

(11 Jun '13, 15:40) Marta Piera ...

Interpreters should be heard -- not seen. But when they are, they should blend in.

From AIIC's practical guide:

Dress appropriately to fit in at the meeting; you may find yourself having to interpret in consecutive at a luncheon or in the event of a problem with the simultaneous equipment. Use perfume or aftershave sparingly; too heady a scent can be a problem in an enclosed interpretation booth. Avoid bangles and other jewelry that can make noise in the booth.

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answered 11 Jun '13, 07:42

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

When being asked to interpret during official receptions, events and in particular state visits, it is important to make sure you know the official dress code. Sometimes women must wear dresses and even gloves or a hat.

On official occasions female interpreters also must wear tights or nylons, no matter how hot the weather! There are very thin nylons and tights available - and don't forget to take some spares along....

For female interpreters it is equally important, especially for evening events, to be dressed for the occasion but NOT to outshine the hostess or the other ladies - so red, for example, would probably not go down very well as a colour.

If you normally don't wear dark evening dresses or if your style is normally totally different, you might want to think about renting the dress, hat etc. for the occasion - actually this should then also be tax-deductible since it can be unambiguously linked to the assignment. (But please check with your tax consultant!)


For every-day assignments, I sometimes ask my contact to tell me about the dress code. So my answer is: Yes, I try to adapt to the client's style or dresscode, if possible, but I also try to bear in mind what the colleague in the video mentioned: BE YOURSELF and try to feel comfortable as well. We don't want to diguise ourselves.

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answered 11 Jun '13, 08:52

AlmuteL's gravatar image


edited 11 Jun '13, 10:14

I think to be on the safe side it is a good idea to wear as formal as or a little bit more formal than what the event calls for. As a side note, going to an informal event with a formal suit might be acceptable but showing up in an informal suit for a formal suit is not so much so.

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answered 11 Jun '13, 08:52

dilsayar's gravatar image


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question asked: 11 Jun '13, 06:10

question was seen: 16,143 times

last updated: 11 Jun '13, 15:40 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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