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Conference Attire

Updated on July 14, 2012

Look Professional

You could even lose the jacket if you are not a keynote speaker
You could even lose the jacket if you are not a keynote speaker

Dress for Success

You've paid your conference fee, collected all the materials you plan to take. Now comes the hard part. What do you wear?

Simple, you wear what is comfortable. No, I'm not talking jeans and a t-shirt with flip-flops. Depending on the weather and where you are going. Casual dress is fine. You can dress down when you are in your hotel room. But, you are going to be meeting people who can potentially change the course of your writing career.

Toss in a sweater or jacket in case the rooms at the conference are cold. Some conferences will even sell sweatshirts with the conference logo on them, just in case you forget. Ladies, sun dresses are fine if you are not falling out of them.

I met a writer at a conference. Because of the nature of his book, he did wear jeans and flip-flops. He always had a dress shirt on. Think casual Fridays at work. You should be okay.

If there is a themed evening be sure you have something to fit in. I got to a conference and the Saturday night banquet had been changed from dress up to country western. Just a bit of egg on my face there.

Just a Simple Dress

Yes, this is me
Yes, this is me

And when You're Not Prepared

If you are like me, I got to a conference one year and remembered that my suit was still hanging on the closet door at home. I asked a the hotel where the nearest shopping mall was. While I was hauling things to my room, the nice gal at the desk printed out a map to the nearest mall.

I bought the above dress. I was much heavier when I bought it. I discovered after that photo that it needed to be donated to someone. But that's another story.

I was able to get to the mall and find a dress I could wear. Then I could relax that night knowing I was again set for the conference. Always have a contingency plan. Pack extra if you need to.

Why Does it Matter?

Some conferences offer you a chance for a manuscript evaluation, a pitch session with an agent, and just the chance to connect with people in the publishing industry. You have to sell yourself, before you can sell your writing.

My first conference, I'd sent in 5,000 words of a novel for evaluation. I had an appointment with the evaluator on the first day. I was nervous as all get out. Would he have seen anything worth salvaging in my work? Did I even have a real clue what I was doing? I spent extra time on my hair and clothing. I knew his first impression of me could make or break whatever he had to say. It worked out fine, he was late as his mother had been hospitalized. So he came right off the plane.

I also had an opportunity for an agent pitch. At the last minute the agent I was signed up with had an emergency and sent someone else with her agency. That person was not interested in anything I had to say because I did not write in the genre she was interested in. Ultimate bummer.

The entire three days I had time to network with other writers, publishers, agents, and people in the marketing part of writing. Those who were successful at the conference were dressed like professionals. Those in jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops really didn't fair as well.

We even had a speaker at lunch one day who talked about how important it was to dress for success. I took thorough notes. I didn't want to be caught missing something important. A friend decided to skip that and I was appalled to see her in a jeans skirt and t-shirt for dinner. It pays to listen to the keynote speakers.

Dress matters. If you want to be considered a professional, dress like one.


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    • HLKeeley profile image

      HL Keeley 

      7 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      This is a very useful Hub. First impressions count especially in a professional environment. That is why you have to dress nice to work and job interviews. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to take yourself seriously. This shows in the choices you make, even as simple as what tie to wear: Garfield or the blue one.

      Voted Up.


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