So, you’ve been accepted to your first conference. Congratulations! Conferences are a great way to get involved in your field. Hopefully, your presentation is finished and polished. Now, the only thing left to do is pack. Should be easy enough, right?
Many students stress out over questions on what to wear – how to balance professionalism and comfort, for example. Opinions on this are all over the map! This post might not answer all of your questions, but hopefully these tips will get you on the right track.
- Ask around. Talk to graduate students and faculty who have attended the conference before. Try to get a feel of whether business casual or business attire is expected.
- Read the program carefully. Identify events like dinners, outings, and social occasions that might require different outfits. You might differentiate between days you are presenting and days you are an attendee.
- Make sure you will be comfortable. This looks a little bit different for everyone. Blanket suggestions: Make sure your shoes are broken in and everything fits properly.
- Keep first impressions in mind. Conferences are great places to network. Imagine meeting a famous person in your field and make sure your outfit is appropriate.
- Check the forecast. Make sure that you will be comfortable in the climate you are traveling to.
- Dress up for the trip. You never know who you might meet on the flight or in the hotel lobby. Additionally, if anything happens and you are running late, you will be conference-ready upon your arrival.
- When in doubt, go for the suit. At least pack one, in case you arrive and feel out of place. It’s hard to go wrong with a sharp suit!
- Make blazers a key item. A smart jacket instantly adds formality to any outfit. Also, it will keep you warm in the almost-always-chilly conference rooms!
- Lean conservative. At least for your first conference, you might want to avoid loud or revealing outfits. We also suggest leaving the sandals and shorts at home.
- Consider the country or region you are traveling to. Different parts of the world have different expectations for conference attire. Going to Western Europe? Expect conferences to be dressier than here in the states.
Have you been to a professional conference? Share your tips by leaving a comment, below!