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. 🙂
(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! 🙂
I’m with you – wear clothes that will make you feel confident and comfortable with yourself in a room full of other authors.
My trick – wedges. They allow me to feel dressed up and cute but are a little nicer on my feet than heels.
Wedges are a good trick! I like the height that heels (or wedges) give me. That also helps me feel more confident. I’m only 5’5″, but with heels, I’m 5’8″ or 5’9″. Love that. You’re so right about wedges being more comfortable, too. 🙂
Sabrina, I do wedges as well. Found two pair that are really cute – and cushioned for all that walking. I’m swearing to cut back on the nbr of shoes I bring this year. We’ll see if I succeed.
Lynn, I’m a skirt girl – it’s my signature look. Let’s just say I’ve earned special customer status w/Coldwater Creek – LOL. Love their clothes. I also bring lightweight knit jackets (white) and black sweaters (cute ones, fashionable) to layer over sleeveless tops.
I wore the travelwear clothes when I used to travel for business 70% of the time and just can’t bring myself to wear microfiber again. Makes me jetlagged just thinking about it. 🙂 Like you, I make sure any liquids are double-bagged in ziplocks. Pressure in the belly of the plain can cause leaks – found that out the hard way.
Can’t wait for conference – woot!
Other suggestion: Make a list of what you intend to bring and check off items as you pack. Don’t forget chargers for phones or laptops!
Hi, Vicky! A signature look — that’s what I’m talking about! And you always look so lovely and put together when I see you. LOL, I’ll think of you when looking at my microfiber. You were definitely a road warrior! If anybody could give packing pointers, it’s you.
I still have your cell number from a couple of years ago, if it hasn’t changed (mine has, and I’ll be happy to pop that into an email for you). We must get together for a drink! I want to talk about this Regency duke of yours, among other things. 🙂
I completely agree with you. Clothing has a huge effect on us psychologically. You know that adage, dress for the job you want, not the one you have? This applies at conferences. I also saw a great post which advised writers to remember when they are at conferences, they are their brand. So, if you are writing sassy, contemporary, chick-lit stuff, you should look like you have a clue what that means. Heels make make many women feel sexy and powerful, not to mention tall, lol. I have comfy shoes packed, but they are sparkly and fun. I’ve also got heels on board. My wardrobe is casual professional. There are a couple of microfiber dresses but mostly I’ve got flowy pants and tailored shirts in summer fabrics and colors with hot accessories. I will be very comfortable, but I want to feel classy and hip (but age appropriate).
Hi, Jennifer! You are so right that when writers are at conference, they are their brand. I think it’s important to project that image of what you see yourself as professionally. Yes, the truth is I wear a lot of casual clothes in front of the computer. I wear jeans and tees and flip flops. I put my hair in a pony tail. I don’t wear make up every day. But conference is different.
And thanks for bringing up the age appropriate comment! That’s important. If you’re writing YA, and you’re an adult, you don’t need to dress like a teen. 🙂
Oh, Lynn, if we only wore the same size in anything, we could be unbelievably fashionable at conference…
If you gain some weight and I lose some weight….nah, probably still wouldn’t work. 🙂 Yes, why is fate so cruel!? We have the same (excellent, I like to think) taste in clothes and shoes and we even gravitate to the same clothing whether we’re shopping together or talking about it later. It’s not fair, sigh.
Yep. I went and bought lots of dresses. Casual dresses, dressy dresses, cocktail dresses…(Psst…I got them on an 80-90% off sale. I’m cheap and this pleases me. I’ll be the one tellig people..”this dress cost six dollars!)
I did pony up, what is to me, big bucks for shoes. Two pairs of very high, very awesome shoes. And some girly flat sandals (no flip flops).
I keep seeing all this stuff about ‘sensibe’ shoes…my definition of sensible is ‘shoes that make me look AWESOME’.
I am, however, getting the feeling that in heels I might be eight inches taller than everyone else, so I”ll be scrunching in pictures…again. 🙂
Cool, Maisey! And you’re singing my song on the bargains. I do love a bargain. Wait until you see my Steve Madden velvet pumps. Or my RITA dress. I’ll happily tell their regular price and the what-I-paid price. 🙂
So, you’re tall, hmm? I always wanted to be tall. I am not, sigh.
I’m not that tall…but sadly, with the exception of my roommate, I’ve met mostly short writers. After I went to RCRW luncheon in April and posted pics on my site of me next to Lucy Monroe and Jane Porter (I was wearing flats) most of the comments I got were “How TALL are you??” (5’7)
And yay! I’ll tell you my RITA dress story too….it’s a good one.
Great tips, Lynn! See you next week.
I’m bringing a lot of dresses, cute shoes, one pair of pretty flip flops and some casual clothes. I like to feel pretty and professional when I am out and about. I wasn’t going to bring as many dresses as you are, but now I am rethinking my strategy 🙂