Often people envision a writer as some shy soul who wears out-of-date clothes and blends in with the walls. At a conference be sure to project a different image. Dress for success is an old adage that still holds true. Don’t clone the look of your favorite author. Aim for conservative and comfortable.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on wardrobe, but you do need to leave your lounge pants, shorts and flip flops at home. (Flip flops might be Ok at a conference in Hawaii or Florida.) Choose clothes that reflect a serious attitude. You’re at the conference to meet people, get leads and promote your manuscripts. Dress so you are approachable.
Casual business defined.
Women’s business casual consists of dresses and skirts in conservative lengths. Slacks, not jeans; tops, not t-shirts; and avoid denim. If you want to pack light, think of mix and matching. Neutral shades with splashes of color. The same skirt or slacks can be paired with various tops. A jacket can be added to a short sleeve or sleeveless dress or blouse if the weather turns cool. Scarves always dress up a simple blouse and sensible shoes are a must. Jewelry is another way to dress up an outfit and give it a different look. And it may not need to be said but I will not assume—women be sure your cleavage is covered. The smile on your face and the words you share are the kind of attention you want to garner.
Men too should avoid jeans, shorts and too casual footwear. Trade in your T-shirts for polo shirts or dress shirts. Ties are nice for banquets and a jacket is always a great addition to a casual slack. Jackets are optional. A jacket over a polo or golf shirt can look sharp. Dress slacks or Dockers always look better than jeans. Casual Friday does not apply to conferences.
Make sure your hair is neat and your breath fresh. Altoids anyone?
You can still have your own style. Some friends I’ve meet at conferences wear cowboy hats, a loud jacket or fun ties. A conference I attended a few years ago had a woman dressing as a different Biblical character each day to promote her book of women of the Bible. Some conferences also have a costume ball or a gala. Be sure to have an appropriate outfit for those occasions.
There is always an exception to every rule. Check the dress code guidelines for your upcoming conference. Most conferences have them on their website. When in doubt dress your best.
What’s your favorite outfit for a writer’s conference?
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