One of the most stressful things while preparing for a conference beyond building your presentation is to figure out what to wear. It has happened to me more than once and potentially it has happened to you as well. In theory, you’re there to network, meet your peers and the “leaders” of your industry — and, of course, to enhance your professional and personal skills. The whole process becomes a bit more confusing when you add in the venue location. Many conference organizers hold their events at popular city destinations like London UK, Paris France, Miami Florida, Berlin Germany etc. And as you can imagine your attire might be a bit different when packing for Miami vs Berlin.
Before you pack your carry-on for the conference, think about the goals and the situation you’re going to be going into. Plan an outfit for each day — but make sure that the pieces from one day’s outfit can be paired with pieces from another day’s to make an entirely new ensemble.
Focus on 3 basic fundamentals to make sure you stand out for the right reasons.
1. Industry and Type of Conference
Are you going to present your ideas in front of the most successful CFOs in Europe? Are you attending a workshop for digital marketing or a hacking marathon?
According to a recent CareerBuilder poll, 67% of the CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and senior vice presidents in the survey said they usually wear “business casual”. When it comes to color, according to Fortune, executives favored conservative colors. Black was most popular, chosen by 32%, followed by navy (31%), and gray (10%).
2. Climate and Activity Schedule
Is the conference held in Finland or Cyprus? Even though all hotels have built-in air conditioning systems, take into consideration that when you are under stress, your body temperature rises. Therefore you don’t want to look flushed and sweaty. In addition, if you are going to move to another location during the conference –for example for the cocktail reception- always check the weather forecast before packing for the event in case you will need to bring a coat, an umbrella or an extra polo shirt.
3. Your Position and Goals
We’ve always heard the saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. But, when attending a conference, you are representing your company or brand. So instead of dressing for the job you want, dress to represent and “sell” yourself. Are you an employee, a potential investor or just building contacts? The key question is: what are you trying to accomplish at the conference?
Bonus: Practical Guide on What To Wear