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The Ultimate First Impression

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…Confident, Audacious and Stylish

Several invitations are shared all year round for people to attend summits, conferences, workshop and the likes. These events offer networking opportunities for attendees to establish connections and create impressions with other professionals in their field and beyond.

Lots of people look out for various things when they meet someone for the first time, but what leaves a lastly impression on anyone is how well dressed the other person was. Because like it or not, your entire outlook speaks a lot about you on the first meet. Hence the need for you to look appropriately dressed while having some style and sharpness to it. It is very important!

People have had experiences where they were not really regarded just because of the way they looked whiles others who dressed elegantly had luminary treatment. It’s all in the branding people; dress the way you want to be addressed.

Why Attire Matters at Business Conferences

The hard truth about these events is that, because there are so many people to talk to at a time and so many “big names” to meet, people pass judgement on your appearances very hastily. This may not seem fair but it’s the hard truth, the way you are dressed may give you that unique opportunity to leave a good first impressions and have a good networking session.

Looking good also makes you seem like a very valuable contact and will give you an urge over someone who didn’t bother to look the part.

Whether you are dressing as a participant to a business conference, or the presenter/speaker, a very careful consideration has to be given to your dressing to make you stand out and achieve your goals for the conference.

What to consider

First thing to consider is to enquire if there is a dress code for the business conference, this will definitely be your guide to pick your attire.

Sometimes no dress code is mentioned so you have to pick out your attire based on your experience or someone else’s. Most business conferences have seen attendees dressed in business casuals, but it depends.

It is also wise to consider the venue of the conference and the various corporate institutions that may be in attendance.

Ways to Dress for a Professional Business Conference

As an attendee or as a presenter, there is something for you. To fully prepare yourself for a conference, must haves like; dress trousers, skirt, dress, button-down shirt, blouse, suit jacket, belt, leather shoes, socks, pantyhose, necktie and simple accessories should be ready to pack.

If the conference is a bit business casual you may want to add khaki trousers, dark-wash denim jeans, sweater, polo shirt, blazer or sports jacket.

Attendee Attire

  • Suits or Blazers: Having a form of structured jacket is a good idea to have on you whether you wearing it or just neatly holding it. Men especially should have this.
  • Trousers: Black, grey, navy blue, and brown trousers are the standard colours of choice. You may want to consider khaki trousers as well but must be pressed and wrinkle-free.

Women may choose to wear slacks, khakis, or try out a knee-length pencil skirt. Dark colours, like black or dark brown, are the most traditional and best received.

  • Tops: Wear a button-down collared shirt or polo shirt. Light and dark colours are both acceptable, but avoid anything bold or flashy.

Women may consider a knit blouse, silk blouse, or close-weave sweater. Choose a top that flatters your figure without being skin tight or low enough in the front to be revealing. A solid colour works best for casual fabrics, but a print in a rich hue can look appropriate on nicer fabrics like silk.

  • Ties: Decide whether or not you want to wear a tie. Ties make you look more professional, and you may want to wear one if you intend to mingle and establish contacts for the future. If leaning toward a business casual style, however, ties are not necessary.
  • Shoes: Wear black or brown leather shoes. Men can opt for a lace-up style or a more casual loafer, but either way, your shoes must be polished and in good condition.

Women should wear flats or a low heel (no high heels). Closed-toe pumps or flats, are preferable. Black and brown leather are ideal.

  • Socks: Match your socks to your trousers. This applies to both men and women. Black socks are the most common and most versatile colour, but you should try to match the colour of your socks to the colour of your shoes or trousers in order to blend the two together. Avoid white or coloured socks that might stand out.
  • Skirts/Dresses: Check the fabric to see if it is clinging to you. If so, wear a slip underneath.
  • Accessories: Minimize your accessories. Avoid non-traditional jewellery, like lip piercings, and only wear subtle pieces that do not look flashy.

Dress up for dinner. The required dress code for meal functions can vary. Luncheons may only require business casual dress, but most evening receptions require you to dress up. Women should opt for conservative cocktail dresses and men should go with a suit and tie.

Presentation Attire

  • Shirts and Jackets: Wear a collared, button-down shirt. Basic colours like white or light pastels work best, but bright colours and patterns should be avoided. Remember to throw on a wool suit jacket. Choose a single-breasted style in a dark colour like black, navy, grey, or brown. The jacket should be tailor-fit for both men and women.
  • Trousers: Match your trousers to your jacket. Garments that come as part of a two-piece suit are best, but if you buy your slacks separately, you should match the colour to the colour of your jacket.

For women consider a knee-length skirt. Both trousers and skirts are appropriate business attire for women. Select a pencil skirt that matches the colour your suit jacket, preferably black, navy, grey, or brown.

  • Shoes: Wear polished leather shoes. Men should consider formal lace-up styles, like Oxfords, in black or dark brown.

Women can wear low heels, but avoid high heels or strappy styles that look more sexy than professional. Black and dark brown shoes are the most appropriate and least distracting.

  • Socks: Stick with socks that coordinate with the colour of you suit. This applies mostly to men. Black socks are the most common since they create a smooth transition between dark slacks and dark shoes.

Ladies slip on nylon pantyhose. Hosiery is necessary for skirts and recommended for trousers, as well.

  • Ties: Choose a conservative tie, if you are a man. Select a tie made of high-quality fabric, like silk, and a subdued colour or pattern. Avoid bold patterns and character prints.
  • Belts: Match your belt to you suit and shoes. The colour of your belt should fit in with the colour scheme the rest of your outfit follows.
  • Accessories: Always keep your accessories to a minimum. This applies to both men and women. Watches and other jewellery should be low-key. Avoid any non-traditional jewellery, like eyebrow piercings or nose piercings.

Ultimately, what you wear matters. So choose what best depicts your personality but before anything else, know where you are going, the kind of people attending and that will give you an idea of what you should wear, whether business professional, business casual, or a presenters attire.

Even though you may be overwhelmed at the amazing benefits you will enjoy at the conference, take another second to think about the most important thing; YOUR STYLE OF DRESSING. In reiteration, whether you believe it or not, your style of dressing to a business conference is key and must be totally considered and thoroughly planned.

Indeed appearance matters a lot! Dressing well shows you respect yourself; that you are confident and can be trusted. Also note that one’s success begins the moment someone looks at them and their appearance.

Don’t forget, along with your amazing attire, your personal hygiene is also important. Make sure you don’t have any bad odours, your fingernails are neat, and a nice haircut/hairdo etc. and you are good to go.

Be Confident, Audacious, and Stylish! Connect with everyone, make that lasting impression!

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Vogue & Style

Attention to your fashion details

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If you’ve ever watched the rehearsal process of a play, then you know just how powerful clothes are. Even in the very early stages of a project, professional actors will come to practice in certain clothing pieces that make them feel more like their character. Perhaps, in an old pair of shoes, a long and heavy skirt, or a bandana that helps them get just the right swagger, grace, or edge.

A few weeks later, when they’re closer to opening, they’ll have an actual dress rehearsal with their real costumes. It’s pretty amazing to see how the right clothes bring the performances up to a whole new level and transform the actor into the character!

As business professionals, we can actually learn a lot from this.

Like it or not, your clothes and presentation communicate volumes about you as a person. The question is not whether you care about fashion, it’s more about what you’re communicating intentionally or unconsciously through your fashion choices. Just as the actor in the right costume moves and speaks differently, so does the everyday person.

Your clothes tell a story about you. If you want to show that your work is clean, sharp, and to the point, you need to dress in clean lines, sharp creases, and (yes) points on your shoes and tie. Even the way you wear your glasses speaks volumes about you and your work!

 

What Do the Details Show?

Research shows that you can tell a lot about someone’s personality, politics, status, age and income just from looking at a photo of their shoes.

Did you ever notice that when President Barack Obama addressed a crowd of working class Americans, he would speak with no jacket and his sleeves rolled up? That silently and instantly communicated to the audience that he too was a hard worker.

You might remember when a 44 page dress code published by Swiss bank UBS went viral. The obsessive stipulations detailed everything from the sensible (“If you wear a watch, it suggests reliability and that punctuality is of great concern to you”) to the downright invasive (employees were instructed on how to shower and apply lotion, how to wear their underwear, and told not to eat garlic during the week).

They may have been control freaks, but UBS got one thing right: every detail about your presentation communicates something.

When you’re dressing or grooming, consider what it says about you and whether it’s in line with the message you want to communicate. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about context. A tie can make you look reliable and rooted in tradition. This might be important at an investment firm, where clients want to know that you’re serious about stewarding their capital. But it can also come off as stuffy and resistant to change, which may be inappropriate for a tech startup.

 

Your Clothing Impacts Your Thinking

Of course, dressing smart is also important for your confidence and sense of self-empowerment. But your style does more than just send messages, to your mind or to others. New research shows it actually impacts how you think. Professional dress, one study found, increases abstract thinking and gives people a broader perspective. So that tie might actually be switching on your creativity button.

“The formality of clothing might not only influence the way others perceive a person, and how people perceive themselves, but could influence decision making in important ways through its influence on processing style,” the study says.

Professional attire creates social distance. When we are more socially distant, we tend to think in more distant, abstract terms. In socially distant settings we address people by their title, for instance, rather than the more intimate first name.

“Even after controlling for socioeconomic status, students wearing more formal clothing showed stronger inclinations towards abstract processing.”

 

Thin-Slicing

Usually we process visual details instantaneously through a process called thin-slicing. That’s when the brain makes millisecond judgements based on new stimulus. It often happens without us even knowing. We might just get a feeling that we don’t trust someone, or that someone else is steady and reliable. We might not even know why.

That gut feeling, commonly called intuition or a first impression, is really part of the very fast-paced mental process of thin-slicing. It’s how we continually judge books by their covers, all day, every day.

So choose your personal presentation with care. Presentation includes not only your clothes, but your accessories, hairstyle, fragrance, posture, body language, tone of voice, and the level of energy with which you move and speak. Think of the person that you need to be in any particular situation. Then dress, groom, and accessorize in a way that helps you mentally step into that personality.

Are you marching in there to get things done? Put on something red, roll up your sleeves and speak in a commanding voice. Are you making social connections at a gala event? Go for suave, but not workplace formal. Dress to feel attractive. Speak in a smooth tone, and let one shoulder relax.

If you’re loafing around on a long weekend with half a box of pizza, you can probably get away with breaking out the frumpy comfortables.

Taking intentional command of how you dress and present is a good step in empowering yourself, accomplishing your goals, and living a more lucid life at the helm of your decisions. So pay attention! Remember, all the world’s a stage.

 

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