My path in life has always been creative and non-conventional, so when it comes to events that require a professional, reserved, business-like appearance, I feel completely at a loss. Professional I can do. Reserved and business-like? Corporate? Not so much. Even before I quit my job to blog full time, I worked in laid back, jeans-and-a-cute-top office environments.
When the dress code for an event asks for business formal or even business casual, I feel a flash of fear because I know my closet doesn’t contain anything that fits that description. I don’t fit into the professional fashion box, but I am frequently invited to, and asked to speak at professional events. I’ve had to find ways to rise to the occasion.
Here’s the thing about attending and participating in conferences – you are your own best representative. You want to look like you on a really good day. You want to make an immediately great first impression.
Here’s what this non-corporate blogger has learned along the way. Here are the do’s and don’ts of conference fashion:
Do be yourself.
The reason most people attend blogging conferences is to network. You’re there to meet, greet, and get to know people you’ve probably only seen as an avatar before. This isn’t the time to develop a new fashion persona or come as someone other than who you are. It IS the time to put your best face forward and let your unique personality shine.
Do rock a power blazer.
The easiest go-to conference outfit for men and women has to be the winning combination of a nice pair of pants (or jeans), a cool shirt and a sports coat or blazer. It gives you a tailored, professional, together kind of look. And blazer doesn’t have to mean boring. At conferences I love to wear what I call my “power blazers,” meaning a blazer in a color or pattern others might not wear. Just about everyone else can wear black. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone else in a bright orange or leopard print blazer.
Don’t be a walking billboard.
We’ve all seen this person at a conference – the one who’s wearing a tee shirt and a hat and everything but a blinking sign advertising their website, or the website of the brand who sponsored their trip. Too many logos and too much self-advertising can be a turnoff. When it comes to dressing the part, play it cool. You’ll make connections by actually connecting with people! Don’t be your own sandwich board.
Do dress like you plan to be photographed.
This is what social media is all about, right? Every event must be chronicled for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – and let’s not forget for the follow up event recap blog posts. You’ll probably be taking lots of photos, so dress accordingly. Think of adding a pop of color so you stand out!
Do consider comfort.
Many conferences are in large spaces, and at conference events there can be multiple venues, requiring fast paced walking from place to place. Ladies, now isn’t the time to don your sexiest sky high heels. It’s a time to consider the fact that you might be on your feet a lot and walking more than you plan to. Good sense and comfort should come first. Always.
Don’t overthink it or stress yourself out.
We’re all here to get to know each other, make some new connections, learn from each other and have FUN. Most of the time when I get all stressed out about what to wear, it turns out all my stress was in vain. Ladies if you find yourself in doubt, wear a simple dress, or your coolest blazer and pants combo, and make the look special and unique with your hair, jewelry and makeup. And never forget – the best accessory you can wear to a conference (or anywhere) is a bright, welcoming smile!
Editor’s Note: Want to hear more from Afrobella (a.k.a. Patrice Yursik) and see what she wears to NMX this month? Be sure to come see her session, “How To Actually Grow A BIG Brand And Community With Just A Simple Blog.”
Photo Credit: Bigstock
Thanks Patrice for your suggests. I like your power blazer idea. It is simple and yet provides so much including a place for business cards and glasses. For myself, I love bow ties and wear them often. Okay most of the time seeing that I did a 365 day project wearing them. For good or bad, people remember me because of my liberal use of bow ties. As you suggested, it is very much my style.
Love the idea of power blazers. It does make getting dressed a bit easier, and gives the essential pockets 🙂 I love dresses other pockets for the same reason.
One other thing to keep in mind is to dress like your avatar or in your avatar colors for large conferences. If folks re trying to find you, it makes life a bit easier.
I don’t have any clothes with even a hint of color and I don’t have a bright, welcoming smile in my arsenal anywhere!
I figure I could get the clothes at Walmart before I leave for Vegas… but where do you go to get smiles?
Patrice your suggestions are very good particularly your power blazer thing with easy space for glasses,business cards etc.It is an idea and style in itself