How to Pack Your Perfect Conference Wardrobe


Conference season is just about upon us -- and if you are anything like me, you're already thinking about what you'll be wearing as you meet, greet and network with your peers and brands. These tips and tricks will help you pack the perfect wardrobe to complement your amazing personality.

Authentic Style

First things first: Be You. If you would never look at a collared shirt and you haven’t worn pearls since the 5th grade when your mom required you to, then don’t dare pack those items to look professional. (Confession: I made that mistake in 2008 when I attended my first BlogHer conference in Boston -- and felt so uncomfortable because of it.)

“Make sure your outfit’s style reflects your personality. Nothing is sexier than confidence. So when a woman wears something that puts her mind at ease, that she is comfortable in, it will be easy for her to shine and really show up in the moments with other people,” says Morgan Toombs, author of the book, “Sexy … It’s Not That Serious: How to Feel Sexy at Any Age and Style.”

Go for Comfort

Yes, those spike heels and that fabulous dress are, well, fabulous. But if they aren’t comfortable for sitting in conference rooms and dashing between sessions, then they are just wasted suitcase space. “Make sure the outfit is comfortable and suitable for the activities of the event. Specifically, if there will be lots of sitting, make sure to wear clothes that are comfortable to sit in,” says Toombs.

Don't feel like you need to wear business casual either. Jeans are okay -- especially if you style them really well.

How to Pack for Conferences

Image: u2n11 via Flickr

Have Some Flair

If flair makes you think of that scene from Office Space, don't worry! You needn’t pin your blouse with 100 buttons proclaiming everything from your Twitter handle to your favorite inspirational quotes. Flair is really about adding visual interest to your outfit with a few carefully chosen accessories.

“Wear something unexpected. Hit the streets for inspiration. Use trend-setters you see out there in the world and borrow one idea and incorporate it into your ensemble. I’m not about to go punk from head to toe, but a black leather cuff could be a great way to edge up a blazer, pencil skirt, and printed blouse combination,” says Kami Gray, wardrobe stylist and personal stylist in Portland, OR.

Don’t Go Overboard

Ultimately, the most important key to dressing for conferences is to relax. While it might be nice to go with a dream new wardrobe, the reality is that if you’ve tried too hard, it will show – and you won’t shine through so much.

“Don't try too hard,” says Sara Cooper, a fashion and wardrobe stylist based in New York. “When you are dressing for anything, whether it be an interview, event, or average work day, it should feel natural and true to yourself. You don't want to be constricted or uncomfortable when trying to present your best self, or it'll show, so stay far away from shoes so high that you can't walk in them or pants so tight that you can't sit in them!”

Packing with Caution

Finally, when packing don't overpack. Seriously. You don't need a fresh pair of shoes for every event. Instead, pack enough that you'll be happily dressed for the conference and any events you go to -- but not so much that you can't pack a little swag in your bag to bring back home.

Sarah W. Caron is a writer, editor and recipe developer who lives in Connecticut. She writes about going after big life dreams on Sarah by the Sea.


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