It’s June and there are a lot of tech conferences that many of us will be attending. But with today’s fashions seeming kind of all over the place, how do you choose outfits that make you feel confident and stylish and send the message you want to send?
So, first of all, what is the message you want to send—competent, confident, professional, relaxed, savvy enough to know how to dress appropriately for the conference you’re attending? You’re there to network, to make connections. Sure, you want to express your personal style and you want to stand out—just not for all the wrong reasons!
In this blog post, our lookingGLASS fashion stylists will give you a quick guide that will help you put together the right outfits for you to feel confident, comfortable and stylish! Whether you're attending your first conference or you're a seasoned pro, these tips will help you look and feel your best.
Things to Consider Pre-Conference
There are a few things you’ll want to consider when putting together your outfit before the conference. First, although tech conferences tend to be on the casual side, check to see whether your conference has a dress code. “For tech conferences, smart casual is your best bet,” says lookingGLASS founder Lana Rowder. Think of smart casual as a less formal extension of business casual.
Consider the temperatures you’ll likely encounter, both inside the venue as well as outdoors, which may vary from on the chilly side to hot. Comfortable fabrics and cuts will help keep you comfortable during long days of sitting in sessions and walking around the conference center.
Think about the activities you'll be participating in during the conference and what your role will be. Will you be giving a presentation or attending a panel discussion or breakout session? Dress with those activities in mind. If you're giving a presentation, you might consider a well-tailored blazer or pantsuit that signals confidence and authority.
“And by all means,” adds Lana, “make comfortable footwear a priority." Nothing can spoil a conference experience like blisters on your feet from those gorgeous shoes you bought for the occasion. Remember, you need to be thinking on your feet—not about your feet. Break in your shoes beforehand. Consider a great pair of insoles or gel inserts for keeping those tootsies in tip-top shape.
What’s the best way to add a little flair?
It can be tricky to strike just the right balance between professionalism and flair with smart casual style for women. Think of it as combining comfort with class. Take a couple of basic items, just the right jewelry or accessory, and a few style tips and you’re on your way.
As for makeup, if you wear it, go with fresh and understated. But don’t be afraid to go with bold red lips. It’s a great way to add a little flair, especially if your outfit is more low-key. “Bottom line,” says Lana, “I try to imagine what first impression I would get if I were meeting me at a tech conference for the first time.”
Nothing says smart casual woman like an elegant black and white long sleeve, double breasted blazer in a nubby (hints of a Chanel tweed) easy-care fabric. This blazer is unlined, which means it will work great in warmer weather when attending an indoor conference where the temperatures can get a little chilly.
If jeans feel a little too casual for your conference, opt for these extra-high rise drape pants from Everlane. The color choices, sandstone, tan (ash brown), and khaki and black checked, are conference-perfect, and the breathable, lightweight fabric will assure all-day comfort.
For more upscale styling with a casual kick, check out this luxe lounge set from Silk and Salt with thumbhole cut-outs. If you’re looking to make a statement, this outfit has lots of possibilities you can play with, and it comes in a number of neutral and statement colors. This rust set looks great paired with the cream loafers. Add a statement belt for polish.
We love this sleeveless top for smart casual. The standout turtleneck that can be worn folded in half for soft gathers at the neckline or pulled up and dropped for a free-form volume look. This look is like the little black dress concept, except in pants. Great for just about any business casual occasion, especially in transitional weather, and the opportunities for accessorizing are almost endless. A great staple piece.
What is not to love about this button-front midi waist skirt from Banana Republic, featuring a button placket and angled patch pockets in stone washed khaki or desert thyme. Add a statement necklace or bangle and step out in confidence to any smart casual event.
Here’s another look loaded with smart casual style! This long sleeve with button cuffs point-collar blouse in Lazuli Blue checks so many boxes, we’re thinking it’s a staple piece for sure. Gorgeous with just about anything! Elevate the look here with one of the fantastic commuter bags featured below.
Jewelry and Accessories
Choose jewelry and accessories that make an impression and, at the same time, are in keeping with your conference. “Simpler jewelry for classic polish will probably work best and will not distract,” says Lana. You can’t go wrong with these timeless bangles and loop earring, but don’t miss the opportunity to elevate a low-key look with some well-incorporated statement pieces, especially if it makes sense with your business industry.
Like footwear, just the right bag is essential for a good conference experience. These affordable commuter bags are gorgeous and practical. There’s room for your laptop and all the little things you’ll need to help make your day go smoothly. And, the shoulder strap will leave your hands free when greeting people and passing out business cards or chatting and enjoying refreshments.
This purse comes in A MILLION colors and is only $19 on Amazon!!
Tech Conference Rules of Thumb for the Smart Casual Woman
- In a pinch, stick with staples for smart casual style (think blouses/button down shirts, cardigans, blazers, button-downs, dress pants, wrap dresses and pencil or A-line skirts)
- Lean toward neutral colors and simple patterns
- For more color, opt for accent pieces in classic shades like red, blue or dark green
- Minimal accessories, simple and classic, or minimized statement piece for a little flair
- Leave the shorts and distressed jeans at home
- Think about what makes you feel professional, relaxed and confident
Tips and Takeaways
- Does the conference have a dress code? Look online for event photos from previous years, or don't be afraid to call or email to ask.
- Wear comfortable shoes!
- Don't wear strong fragrance (other attendees might be allergic or sensitive to strong perfumes and colognes).
- Choose breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, silk and lightweight merino wool. Some synthetics tend to retain odor and don’t absorb moisture. Stay away from light clothing if you tend to sweat.
- Layer for the temperatures inside and outside the venue.
- hand sanitizer & face covering
- business cards
- cough drops
- notebook and pen
- laptop and charger
- phone, cable, portable charger