Tag Archives: What to wear

What to Wear to Convention

AKA. What does ‘Business Casual’ actually mean anyway?

Reposted with permission from PhD Comic -3/7/2016

Reposted with permission from PhD Comics -3/7/2016

As conference season is fast approaching, here are some tips to help you answer the age-old question, “What am I supposed to wear?” This post came out of a clothing crisis I had when faced with the ambiguous directive to dress in “business casual” for an important meeting. I wanted to appear put-together but not over-dressed, and also to be comfortable (after all, there really isn’t a professional way to take your shoes off because your feet hurt!). So, I turned to the internet and a few trusted friends and here’s what we came up with.

Part of the reason why ‘business casual’ is so hard to pin down is because the standards for what is appropriate largely depend on the workplace or organization. Also, social norms around clothing change over time so advice can often be conflicting. For example, many older sources I consulted stated that skirts should be knee length or longer, while a number of newer sources advised no more than 3 inches above the knee! Opinions were also divided on if it is ever appropriate to rock the “business shorts” in a workplace.

A few basics we could all agree on – whatever you wear, make sure it is wrinkle-free, unstained and doesn’t have any holes or loose threads. Also, people advised avoiding outfits that were very loud or flashy (e.g., head-to-toe sequins, multiple bright patterns, etc.) as they might distract from what you are saying. Part of convention is networking and if your clothes are speaking louder than you are – it might not be the right outfit for the job.

Overwhelmingly, people also thought that jackets seemed too formal, unless worn with dark jeans or khakis to dress them down slightly. For those who do wish to wear a blazer with a dress shirt or dress pants, feel free to lose the tie. One exception is if you are presenting – then err on the side of more formal dress.

One piece of advice that came up repeatedly was to wear layers. Often, you’re walking or transiting to convention in the heat, only to enter a freezing convention centre minutes later. The other piece of advice was to wear comfortable shoes. Again, many of the same things apply to footwear as to clothing – avoid shoes with holes, that are visibly scuffed or dirty, or that you would wear to exercise in. A good bet is to stick with neutral colors – navy, tan, brown, or black – as they match with many outfits so you can wear them multiple times. If you plan to do a lot of walking (and you likely will), you might consider bringing more than one pair of shoes so you can alternate if your feet get sore.

There are many more extensive guides out there and much of this will be up to your discretion, so a good rule is if you’re not sure if an item is appropriate – trust your instincts, it probably isn’t. And if you’re craving more info about what to wear to convention, check out this excellent post – Dressed by Jess – from a few years ago!

Dressed by Jess: What to Wear and Not Wear at APA Convention

It’s about that time of year when thousands of psychologists and trainees come together to attend APA Convention. This is always an exciting time, especially for graduate students, as people get to reconnect with old friends, meet new ones, and attend several incredible workshops and poster sessions.

With all this excitement also come thoughts of, “What am I going to wear?!?” Here are three rules to follow when dressing for convention:

  1. This is a professional conference! It’s important to think about how you present yourself when attending sessions, presenting your poster, or listening to Jane Pauley during the opening session. You don’t have to be in a suit everyday, but sticking with key pieces that you feel confident in can make you shine—and people will notice. Always make sure to add your own flare to your outfit.
  2. You will be walking A LOT! Comfort for your feet is key. Ladies, flats can work with everything and are very trendy right now. Kitten heels are always very cute, and my staple. I don’t recommend 5-inch heels, as you will be walking everywhere, not only in the Convention Center, but to sessions/socials/events in the neighboring hotels.  Gentleman, this is easy: Just don’t show up to present your poster in flip-flops or sneakers. Remember, you are presenting not only your research, but also yourself.
  3. Business professional doesn’t always have to be boring! Fashion is fun, and if it’s not, it should be. Here are a few ideas for what I think are very trendy choices, yet still professional. Ladies, dresses are a girl’s best friend. Easy to pack, and wear.  This dress is sleek, flattering and professional; more affordable options and colors abound. Throw a simple cardigan over it to keep you warm in the very air-conditioned Convention Center. If dresses aren’t your fancy, think about a pencil skirt, blouse and cardigan. Guys, keep it simple and classy. Trousers, a button-up shirt and nice loafers are always the easiest. You can even complement that simple attire with one nice blazer to pair with different separates.

Just remember, this is a professional conference and not just another classroom. If you look like you just strolled out of bed, some people may not take an interest and pass you by as you stand next to your poster all by your lonesome. It’s all about having fun and enjoying everything that APA Convention has to offer.

I hope to see some fashion-forward attire during Convention. Don’t forget to stop by the APAGS booth for some awesome swag and for a list of all APAGS programs. Have fun, network and don’t be afraid to show your best self!

Dressed by Jess

Jessica 1Hi, my name is Jessica Andrade (I am not a psychologist, but am happily employed by APA) and I truly have a LOVE for fashion! Dressed by Jess is a series of articles that will help students feel confident in pieces that make them feel good and in style when attending important events, including internship interviews, your first day of teaching, presenting at a national conference, etc. I’m inviting you to explore this series of articles from my fashion perspective. I will provide tips on pairing pieces together as well as “do’s and don’ts” to help you put your best foot forward for all occasions. And most importantly, all of my tips will be….wait for it…on a graduate student budget!

Expect lots of colors, outfits that should never be worn in public, and FUN! Hold on to your tablets, this is going to be an adventure!