Monday, April 30, 2012

What to Wear to a Professional Conference

When attending a professional panel event, conference, breakfast meeting or roundtable discussion, it's good to keep a few tips in mind:  

1) Business Professional Dress is always appropriate.  These events are completely formal, especially in DC, and you need to look your best.  You are representing yourself and/or your organization so make sure you are dressed for the occasion.  When in doubt a suit jacket and skirt or slacks combo always works.  

2) Layers are your friend!  Meeting rooms are always either too cold or too hot, and usually tend to be freezing.  Wear a jacket or at least long sleeves to ensure you'll be comfortable throughout the conference. 

3) Keep it conservative.  These events always bring together a wide range of age groups and levels of seniority, so it's wise to dress on the conservative side.  This isn't the time for fashion statements, short skirts or wild makeup.  Finally, be you!  That said, you don't want to disappear into a sea of head-to-toe black and navy suits.  Pick ONE piece with a little pizzaz to bring some personality to your look.  A great way to do this is with a bold blazer - I am loving the rich red, safari, eyelet, and even the ikat print jacket below! If a fun jacket isn't your taste, go with a brightly colored blouse underneath your jacket for a pop of color, or a colorful scarf or necklace.

Editor's note: I am so honored to be on the host committee of the upcoming "Women Leading the Future" Conference being held this Saturday, May 5th in Chevy Chase, MD.  If you are looking for a wonderful opportunity to network and learn from some truly inspiring professional women don't miss this event!  Click here for conference information and registration.


  1. Emily, this is so useful! Your look is very important when you speak in front of the audience. Inappropriate outfit can distract people. I'd like to look professional, but fashionable at the same time. Love the red jacket! I have proposal defense tomorrow and just applied to another conference. Right on time=)))

    1. I'm so glad you found this helpful!!:) It's definitely difficult to strike the right note between professional and fashionable- but a great jacket is always a good way to go!