Busniess Conference - What to Wear?

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Busniess Conference - What to Wear?

In February, I'm headed to a business conference in Anaheim just down the road from Disneyland. I booked 4 days at the Disneyland Hotel prior to the conference, and I'm really excited! I am however already starting to freak out over what to wear to the conference. As a writer, my wardrobe consists largely of jeans and jammies - I mean seriously, one of the best parts about working from home is that I live in yoga pants. This conference is kind of a big one for me and holds the potential for me to make some really key contacts. The previous conferences that I've been to have all called for business casual attire. This one however, I'm just not sure how to dress for.

I know that several of you have to travel for business and attend conferences. I'm sure you're much more well versed on making key contacts face to face than I am. I figured that I have about 10 seconds to make a great first impression. What should I wear?!

JMUDukz's picture
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First off, let me say, I aspire to a job that allows me to wear yoga pants all day!! yay

As far as what to wear, it really depends on what type of conference it is. The last conference I went to, there was everything from jeans to suits. Myself and my colleagues went business casual: khakis, black pants, blouses (or a button down, no tie for the one gentleman with us), or long dresses. My advice to you is that if you're trying to make an impression on people from your industry, dress to impress. Nice, pressed slacks (black, blue or gray), a nice blouse (something button down) in a solid color or pinstripe would fit the bill. If you prefer skirts, knee length with hose*, same sort of top. A matching jacket is always a bonus, but really says "business" and may be a little stuffy. Stay away from animal prints or anything TOO over the top from a color or print perspective (please note: half my wardrobe is animal print and the other half is loud colors, but again, not the best for a first impression). Comfortable shoes, low heels are also a good call.

At DL, I could see it possibly being a little more low key, but even still unless you show up in a prom gown, you needn't worry about being overdressed in basic work attire. And if you do show up in a prom gown, please post pictures!! Smile Bring some laid back casual clothes for any evening informal networking events - again, khakis, button down or polo.

* I think hose are a must when networking for professional purposes. I don't always wear them during the summer months - particularly when I'm wearing really long skirts, but I believe if you are approaching someone to ask for a job or an interview, hose are a MUST. Hose just make you look like you are that much more put together. I know I mark down when someone comes into an interview with a short skirt and no hose. Looks unprofessional. I'm sure this will bring flames from the non-hose lovers, but it is how I feel!!

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Eeyore's picture
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The last conference I presented at in Raleigh, I saw all types of people. You are right and I was not impressed with the people who did not "look" professional. Each day, I wore a button up blouse with a skirt and heels. I kept a pair of flats in my bag and put them on when the end of the day arrived. (or walking across the street for lunch)

If you're looking to buy something, you can never go wrong with a cardigan and a skirt with accessories. The Limited, Ann Taylor, & Banana Republic offer some great professional pieces!

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Eeyore wrote:
The last conference I presented at in Raleigh, I saw all types of people. You are right and I was not impressed with the people who did not "look" professional. Each day, I wore a button up blouse with a skirt and heels. I kept a pair of flats in my bag and put them on when the end of the day arrived. (or walking across the street for lunch)

If you're looking to buy something, you can never go wrong with a cardigan and a skirt with accessories. The Limited, Ann Taylor, & Banana Republic offer some great professional pieces!

Good call on the flats or even running shoes for walking to/fro/around!! The stores Eeyore mentions are awesome, but alas, are pricey and...ahem...don't always carry flattering sizes/styles for those of us who are of the fluffy variety. I would suggest also looking at JC Penney. JC Penney has some good stuff at a cheaper price point and carries a full size range. Granted, not as great quality as Ann Taylor or Banana Republic, BUT if you're going back to yoga pants after the conference, the stuff is just as good and will get you through!!

Are you staying at the DL hotel??

EDITED TO ADD: My comments about sizes are based on my personal experiences!! I am not commenting on anyone else on the board!! I realized after a few minutes that sounded different in my head than it may sound outloud!!

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disneydoc's picture
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I may be a bit outnumbered here, but I am still into the suit thing. I love the clean lines of suits, and dressing is easy that way. Jones New York is my go to for career wear in my closet. I have been told to dress in the way you want to be perceived, and for me that is professional and knowledgeable ( at least at work!).

Now at Disney...that is another story. mickey

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Kris1971's picture
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Most conferences I attend are business casual. I think a nice pair of black pants and a blouse would be just fine. Definitely wear comfortable shoes. The wrong shoes can ruin a day!

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Miss Mikki's picture
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I like the dress and jacket look. I found this fashion pic via google to illustrate my point.
I would probably go for a plain rather than patterned dress in a block colour though. Eg. Plain dark red dress with navy/black jacket.

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Thanks so much ladies! What I'm reading from you all seems to come down to "neat and tailored."
I can do that. awesome I have black/navy/gray wool slacks so maybe I'll get a neutral color sheeth dress, a couple blouses, and a blazer if I can find one. And don't worry Dukz - I'm a big fan of hosiery.

JMUDukz wrote:
BUT if you're going back to yoga pants after the conference, the stuff is just as good and will get you through!!

I will be back to yoga pants most of the time, but hope to build some staples that I can pull out when I need them. I'm also of the fluffy variety, and I'm on a budget so I will check out JCPenny's and maybe dressbarn.

JMUDukz wrote:
Are you staying at the DL hotel??

I am! I made my reservations this week for a premium view room. That means that l have a pool or DTD view. I tried to get in to the Grand Californian but all the DVC rooms were booked. My daughter Tori is going to accompany me on the trip and hang out Disneyland while I'm working.

KrystalT's picture
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If you are able to wear clothes from Lane Bryant they have some really nice business peices. Everything on their website is 40% right now even clearence and for every $50 you spend you get $25 back to spend on a $50 purchase begining the second week of Sept! I just got a few things for my job for when I have to travel to the office I too work from home and enjoy yoga pants awesome

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Kristen K.'s picture
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I was feeling less stressed about what to wear after talking to you ladies and then yesterday I found out that I will be speaking at the conference! Oh.. my.. god! My fashion stress went through the roof. Luckily I will be on a panel, not giving a key note, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

I found this cool company called Gwynnie Bee www.gwynniebee.com/ that rents (plus size) designer clothes and I'm considering giving them a try to have some great looks for the conference. I'm thinking that the sheath dress and a blazer might be the best look for me. I'm going to have to be careful not to over accessorize too. I don't want to look like a jewelry box exploded on me up on stage.

VelcroPooh

I have to attend several conferences a year. We always do business casual, although many show up in jeans. Khakis, black pants, long skirts, nice blouses and comfortable shoes. I have had to do a speaking panel a couple of times and on those days, I usually go with black dress pants, a solid feminine blouse and black business jacket. I will normally wear comfortable, but a little bit dressier black shoe that day.

My best tip: IRON! I can't tell you how many show up with nice clothes but don't iron them when they get there and they are rumpled. It totally kills the looking professional look.

Kristen K.'s picture
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Iron - check! I always travel with a little steamer too so that shouldn't be a problem.

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I agree about ironing clothes. Nothing turns me off faster to see a woman who looks like she slept in her clothes. It just makes you look put together.

JMUDukz's picture
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Congratulations on being asked to speak!!

I think the dress/blazer combo is classic, as is a timeless black suit with either a colorful blouse or a nice scarf.

Check out consignment shops around you as well, you might find some cool stuff that others have passed on. I know I donate a lot of suits (sadly b/c I'm going UP in size - wrong direction!!!) that I no longer wear - a good dry cleaning and you're ready to go!!

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