Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The proper dressing of an author (AKA what to wear to a conference)

Today I was asked to give you some tips and ideas on how to dress for a conference, particularly for the LDStorymakers conference in April here in UT.

So let's just dive right in, shall we? *rubs hands together* (Did you know I almost started my own personal consultation business, where I would basically charge a small fee to be a personal shopper and help people find flattering outfits? Random, I know. But I really do enjoy going shopping with friends and helping them find something that really makes them look awesome, that they might not have picked out for themselves. Anyway, I digress...On to the tips!)

First, let's chat about personal hygiene. You'd think this should go without saying, but let's put it out there, just for the heck of it. It doesn't matter how great your outfit is if you stink. Deodorant/Anti-perspirant is a must. Brushing your teeth is a must. Showering/bathing is preferable, if possible. Bring breath mints or gum (but spit it out before your pitch session) because after half a day of talking and candy and pop, you're going to need a little breath-fixer-upper. On the flip side, don't drown yourself in cologne/perfume. You don't want to make the agent's eyes water and their nose burn, right? A spritz or two should do.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, on to the fun stuff: the outfits!!

I might have gotten a bit carried away with this. I kind of love clothes. The idea when going to a conference is to look put together, professional even (especially if you are pitching your manuscript), but to also be comfortable in your skin. Don't buy a brand new pair of shoes the day before--you'll be searching for band-aids for your blisters by lunchtime. You will be walking A LOT at a writer's conference. Use your favorite, cute shoes that you know you can handle a couple of miles in. Or, if you want to buy new ones, get them a month in advance and break them in.

The point of the pictures below are just to give you a few ideas of what you could do. You don't have to go broke buying a new wardrobe for a two day conference. Look through your closet for similar items to help put your outfits together. And ladies remember: accessories make the outfit.Or your shoes. Anyone who knows me, probably knows how much I love shoes.

But let's start with the boys. You'll see a trend in this post of pairing casual clothing with a dressier item or two for a really great professional look that is still comfortable. For example:

 The surprise of the nice jacket with some nice pants, casual shoes and a thin sweater/hoodie or even a graphic tee can be a great look.

Or you can go for a slightly dressier look, but still dialed down a bit with a nice pair of jeans. Comfy but still very professional:

If you're pitching to an agent or editor, these are some slightly dressier looks, without needing to wear a complete suit:

 Wow, that's tiny. Basically, you can't go wrong with a button down shirt and some khaki's or slacks.

Or you could just totally go for it and show up like this:

Or, you could just be Chris Pine:

No pitch necessary, please sign on the line.

Okay, just kidding on those last two. I couldn't resist. ;-)

(BTW boys, these are all excellent suggestions for date night if you really want to wow your girl. Just sayin'.)

Now, on to the girls!!

This is a nice business casual look that is professional enough to pitch in, if you're not comfortable in a dress. You can rock a chambray shirt under a nice sweater--mix your casual items with nicer items and you have a great comfy chapter look! And as I said, the nice touch with the accessories really finish the look. It only takes a second to add a necklace and some earrings or a nice bracelet to an outfit, but it can make all the difference. (Side note: If your outfit is more neutral in color, you can odd pops of color with your shoes or accessories.)

These next few are nice casual outfits that are perfect for looking put-together but not too dressy at a conference, if you're not pitching to an agent/editor:

These two outfits would work for a pitch session, IMO. They've got a nice mix of casual and dressy. But if it were me, I would probably wear a pair of shoes with a bit more color for the outfit above, just to add interest to this outfit. (Even though those ARE cute. I'm just a bit obsessed with cool, unique heels/shoes to add a pop of color/interest to an outfit.)
(Although if it were me, I'd probably wear black pants instead of jeans if I were pitching. Or at least a darker wash.)

If you do feel comfortable in a dress, it's always nice to put one on for a pitch session. Here are a few ideas:

All of these are great examples of business casual attire that are perfect for wowing your future agent or editor with the first impression they'll have when you walk in the door--then you can wow them even more with your pitch!

And finally, here's an example of finding an outfit you like and then trying to re-create it from what you have in your closet:

I saw this outfit on pinterest and really loved it. I thought about going shopping, but then decided to see if I could find similar items in my closet and came up with this:
Not too bad, right?

So, in summary--try to go for a professional but comfortable look, make sure you don't stink, and have a great time!

I think I need to go shopping now....


Melanie Jacobson said...

Now I feel like if I don't have the dress with the white dots, my life will never be complete again...

Great post and love the suggestions!

Jolene Perry said...

If anyone came as Chris Pine, I'd become an agent just to sign them ;-)

Also. I'm laughing at Melanie's comment b/c I saw that outfit months ago and went in search of fabric. I now have a similar dress that I wear with a similar cardi and shoes, lol. I might wear it to the conference ;-)

Jeigh said...

GAH! I always see posts like this and think, "Uh-huh, uh-huh, I can do that." And then I try and it's a disaster. Maybe I SHOULD hire you to pick my outfits! Sounds good to me!

Karlene said...

I love it! I'm going for total comfort, since I'm not pitching. But the deodorant & breath mints—stocking up!

Anonymous said...

Sara, I'd hire you in a second!

A. Lynden Rolland said...

Love it all! Sudden urge to shop!!

Taffy said...

I have a couple of these outfits on my Pintrest! haha Now I'll add a couple more. Thanks, Sara!

Kathryn Purdie said...

Great suggestions! And I'm with Jeigh--I just need to crack down and hire you!

Robin said...

I am completely clueless when it comes to anything that's not totally casual. Just thinking about looking decent for conferences makes me nervous.
The truth for me is I just need someone to dress me.

I bet you'll remember this comment when you see me at Storymakers! Maybe if it's terrifying enough, you'll be forced to take me shopping;)

Unknown said...

Do you know where I could buy the blue/green top plse :-) I love it

Victoria C. said...

Nearly three years have passed since this article was first published, and I find it quite helpful - navy, white, and tan it is for me! 😊

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Vikram said...

Amazing article, these looks casual as well as suitable for corporate uniforms India is getting better with fashion sense these days.

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