Why Conference or Unconference Wear Should Say “Work” and not “Weekend”

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I decided to write this column after attending several great local conferences over the past couple of months, including She’s Geeky Twin Cities and Minnesota Blogger Conference.

When deciding what to wear to an event, weigh the options.  Is it more important to be comfortable, make a statement or look confident and put together?

In many cases, you don’t know most of the people attending one of these events.  What if you go to an event and meet one or all of the following?

  • The man/woman of your dreams
  • The influential person at the company of your dreams
  • A (or a bunch of) potential client(s)
  • The former boy/girlfriend
  • Your supervisor’s partner
  • Your boy/girlfriend’s family member

If you’re there to represent a company as a sponsor, on a panel or at a booth, you had better dress up.  If it’s a professional conference, opt for a suit.  If it’s not a suit and tie venue, go with a blazer and dress pants or a dress with a top layer like a blazer or structured cardigan.

If you’re an attendee, DO NOT resort to weekend wear.  Even though you may not be in the spotlight, remember that you’re the only person there representing yourself so make the most of it.

Here are a few ideas of what to wear (and what not to wear) for men:

  • Sport coat, pullover or cardigan sweater (instead of a hoodie)
  • Button down shirt (instead of a t-shirt)
  • Dress sneakers or casual loafers (instead of athletic sneakers)
  • A good haircut (instead of baseball hats)

And here’s the list for women:

  • Blazer, pullover or cardigan sweater (instead of a hoodie)
  • Button down shirt, fine knit or silk shell (instead of a t-shirt)
  • Dress shoes or boots (instead of Uggs, athletic sneakers or flip-flops)
  • Professional dresses and skirts (instead of yoga pants, pajama bottoms or muumuus)

Stay tuned this week for specific examples of what to wear for men and women including a variety of picks for Fall/Winter that can easily translate from conferences to work.

{ Fabuliss helps women and men learn how to create and shop for outfits that align with their personal brand.  Color, fit, closets and shopping.  Fabuliss.com or 612-554-4629 }

See also:

One "I Love It!" Necklace Works With Multiple Tops
Holiday Outfits Part 1 of 3: Semi-Formal
Top Style Picks for the 2011 Academy Awards

4 Comments

  1. This is so funny. I have spent my enter career in business suits, mainly bored room black. Ooops, I mean boardroom black. For yesterday’s conference because I am twice as old as everyone else, I dug deeply in my closet for jeans and a blazer. And then, oh no, the big faux pas – sandals. (at least not flip flops)

    Sasha, I did get your memo tonight about the >35 set needs to skip the jeggings. I’ll just let my silly old friends wear them and smile.

    • Love your sense of humor! It must be hard to break out of suits if you’re used to them. It was a BIG shift when I was at Target and they switched to suits. I have to say the men looked incredibly sophisticated. For women – suits have come a long way but designers and brands could do better.

      I see so many bad examples of jeggings, it’s hard to support them. Plus they’re such a fad – I expect they’ll be gone by spring.

  2. Sasha, this is great — too bad we didn’t have your list BEFORE the conference :) The two people you helped with their outfits definitely looked well put together!

    I agree with your take on this, for sure. Sometimes it’s striking a balance between comfortable and professional. I wanted to dress up with heels and dress pants – but tried to make it a touch more casual by using a long sweater jacket rather than a blazer. I think it worked… well, you could tell me. :)

    • Thanks, Missy. I thought about doing it beforehand but I am glad to have waited since I was so inspired during the conference!

      Purple is a great color for you and a good cardigan is a perfectly good option to dress down from a blazer…especially when you have a tiny bit of bling on your pants pockets :)

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