I’m seeing lots of tips about what to pack for the RWA National Conference in Orlando. There are some good suggestions out there, and some that have me blinking and wondering why someone would suggest such a thing. So I decided to offer my suggestions on wardrobe, which is based solely on me being a prissy, girly, shoe-loving, wanna-be fashionista. I say wanna-be because I know I don’t have “Sex and the City” fashion sense. I want it desperately, but I lack the SJP teeny tiny body and the pocketbook to go with those clothes, handbag, and shoe choices.

(If you want packing and other tips, visit my friends at The Writing Playground. They’ve been talking conference all last week, and I think they’re doing so this week as well.)

Okay, so what’s a wanna-be fashionista going to wear all week? Dresses and sky-high heels, y’all. (The flip flops travel in the totebag I carry, just in case the feet can’t hack it anymore.)

Why would anybody be so crazy as to do this? Because I want to a) project a professional image, and b) when I dress up, I feel good — and this is important for an introvert who’s venturing into conference land. Oh, and c) I already wear baggy, comfy clothes all the time because I stay home and write — this is my chance to get out and dress up a bit!

Yes, I am likely to bring 5 to 8 pairs of shoes, not counting the flip-flops. Yes, I know I have to make it all fit in one bag and one carry-on because I prefer not to pay for a second bag (unless flying Southwest, at which point all bets are off!).

The way you fit 5 to 8 pairs of shoes in a suitcase is this: make the clothes less bulky. Pack underwear and Spanx (gotta have those!) in the shoes. High heels take up less room than loafers, especially if they’re strappy (or mine do anyway! Guess it depends on your shoe size). Bring microfiber. This year, I’m doing less microfiber than usual, but it all still fits. This is what I will bring:

Outfit for Tuesday night dinner with other authors
Dress for Wednesday.
Dress for Wednesday night Literacy signing.
Casual clothes for after party.
Dress for Thursday.
Dress for Thursday night event.
Dress for Friday.
Dress for Friday night event.
Dress for Saturday.
RITA/GH dress, which is bulky and which friends are sticking in their garment bag for me.
Sunday go-home wear. Casual.

I will also bring one or two extra dresses, just in case. Naturally, there’s underwear to go with all that. Jewelry goes in the carry on. Toiletries, of which I bring many, are in a zipped case that hangs on the back of the bathroom door. I zip the case and stick it inside a giant Ziploc so nothing leaks on the clothes. If I have room, I also pack a few wire hangers that I can leave behind if I want. Why? Because there are never enough hangers in hotel closets when you have 2 women in a room together.

I also bring two sweaters, one in white and one in black (I wear one on the plane), because conference hotels are notoriously cold. I do not bring workout gear. I know I won’t find the time to do it. I also don’t bring a bathing suit. I have yet to have a spare moment to hit the pool, so I just don’t bother packing one. I used to bring one, and the workout gear, and it was nothing but a joke. You may be more disciplined than I with your workouts, and you may make time for the pool, so plan accordingly.

Yes, you can bring Capri pants, slacks, microfiber tops and one pair of sensible shoes that go with everything. No one says you have to wear dresses, not even to the parties. But that’s what I like to wear, and I’ve told you why. I feel professional, pretty, and confident. Dress the way you want to be known; project the image you think of when you picture a professional writer (and your picture might be different than mine; just know what that image is and dress accordingly). Don’t be afraid to trot out some color either. I see lots of suggestions to build a wardrobe around black. It’s a good suggestion, and I’ll have my fair share of black, but I also have some colorful dresses too. Sometimes, adding colorful jewelry, scarves, or even shoes to that black outfit can really make it pop.

Ultimately, these are just my suggestions about what works for me. You may have other ideas about what makes you feel confident and professional. I dress like I’m going to a job interview — which means I’m ready for anything, including that impromptu on-camera interview I had at RT in Ohio. πŸ™‚

(Notice there was no mention of clothes for touring the parks. That’s because I’m not. If you’re doing that, I’d definitely bring sensible shoes, some shorts or Capris, and some cotton shirts. No microfiber because it doesn’t breathe — and you’ll want the fabric to breathe in that heat, believe me.)

Later this week, I’ll talk about some of the little necessities that I find very helpful. One week to go, y’all! πŸ™‚