Doreen Dove knows how to dress women for work!

If you are a working woman or a woman who likes to network, then no doubt there is a conference of some sort on your calendar.

As a stylist, this is one of my busiest seasons because so many of my corporate clients are conference attendees, keynote speakers or breakout session leaders.

Often overheard on our pre-prep consult call is the fact that they’re not nervous about their role as attendees or speakers, they are instead nervous about what to pack and what to wear.

They begin panicking about two months in advance, tending to over-think, over-shop and definitely over-pack!

Here are few tips that can allow you to ease into the conference and enter the room with confidence.

The most important word in the planning process is AGENDA. Secure the agenda, post the agenda and plan all of your outfits based on the exact agenda. There really is no way to over pack if you make sure that every step of the way, based on the agenda, you have something to wear.

Listen up! Conference day is not the time for new shoes. I could just end this section on that sentence because no doubt you’re picking up what I’m putting down when it comes to dogs barking. So, if you know you’ve got a conference in March, June or even next September, now would be the time to pick up some new shoes and break them in a bit so that you will not be asking the concierge for Band-Aids.

Additionally, accept the fact that your fabulous four fundamental essentials are going to be repeat performers over the two or three days. Those will be obviously be your perfect fitting pair of black pants, your classy black skirt, your little black business dress and your comfortable sassy black heels. Now is the time to tune up those fab 4 to make sure they are ready to work for you and they look polished and professional – don’t lug along your old worn out black essential standbys, they won’t measure up to the task!

The next piece of advice? Don’t get stuck in the black zone. Too much black is boring for everyone and it tends to look harsh in photographs. Be sure to pack a pop of color, perhaps a statement piece, that can go a long way to bump up your style. Plus, everybody knows you’re probably repeating those black pants or that black skirt or that black dress because you are no doubt not the only one in the room doing that. So, by infusing some color in the soft pieces such as blouses and scarves, or necklaces, earrings, bracelets, brooches and even a rock star pair of colorful shoes, this will leave your compadres wondering how many suitcases you arrived with!

Be sure to remember that conference centers and hotel meeting rooms are usually either too hot or too cold. Don’t take it personally, just know you have to go well prepared to be in control of your own temperature destiny. The key would be layers! Consider wearing sleeveless blouses or dresses that you can top with a shapely sweater or a power jacket.


Lastly, if you are one of the lucky women to be onstage either as a speaker or panelist pay close attention to the length of your dress or your skirt. Be sure to sit seated in front of a mirror so that you-can-see what they-can-see well before they see it! Also make sure if you’re going to be mic’d for volume, that your outfit or your jewelry doesn’t interfere with the wiring, forcing you to completely disrobe for the sound guy just before you go on stage.

The final detail is in the bag, literally. We all like to make sure that we have every possible thing in our bag knowing we’re leaving the hotel room for an eight-hour day, but you really don’t need to look like a carpet-bagger. Be sure to bring a structured bag, one with the flat bottom and a good-sized handle with a zipper closing so that when you’re forced to place it on the floor under the conference table, your 200 items don’t fall out on the floor. Be sure your bag has inner sections so that you can keep your belongings organized so that finding your phone, your pen or your American Express card doesn’t take 20 minutes. Be sure to know the weight of your new bag before you fill it because if it weighs 10 pounds empty, you will then be toting around 20 pounds on your shoulder – all day, for three days! Read more here on how to shop for the perfect handbag.

Need help dressing for the role? Are you a speaker looking to up your game? Let’s talk – there’s no time like the present! Remember the words of Arthur Ashe, “The key to success is self confidence, the key to self confidence is preparation.” Let’s get you prepared to succeed!

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