Last week, I was in Raleigh for work. To be honest, while it’s nice to get away from the desk for a few days, there is nothing particularly glamorous about trade shows. There’s a lot of talking and handshaking and being indoors for long periods of time — and if you’re an exhibitor (like my employer is), you also have to set up and deconstruct your booth. It poses a bit of a packing challenge, but this is what came with me:
- Solid and print button-up shirts: The easiest (and most space-efficient) way to look cleaned up. (I avoid dresses at trade shows because I know I’ll be running around and whatnot throughout the day.)
- Ponte leggings/pants: Comfy like leggings, but thick and structured enough for business casual settings.
- Printed pants: See above, but perfect to pair with your solid blouses for some interest. I love my printed Pixi pants from Old Navy.
- Blazer: The temperature at hotels is always one extreme or another, sometimes in the same day, so this business-ready layer is always good to have on hand.
- Flats: I am rarely a heels wearer, but if there’s a time for flats, it’s when you’re setting up and breaking down a booth.
- Swimsuit/workout wear: I always double-check the hotel’s amenities to see if they have a fitness center or swimming pool. It’s a lot easier for me to work out when the gym is only a few floors down.
- Steamer: The foolproof way to get wrinkles out if you don’t trust irons (like me).
To keep things as simple as possible, I also bring only one simple set of accessories (usually in silver): a watch, ring, earrings and a necklace. I wouldn’t recommend a statement necklace since chances are you’ll get to rock an awesome lanyard/name tag around your neck.
I like to be more creative (and sometimes more casual) with my work wardrobe on a regular basis, but when it comes to trade shows, I ultimately want to be comfortable and look professional. I don’t want to be preoccupied with packing or planning outfits, because there’s a hundred other details I have to keep track of for my team.
Have you gone to any trade shows? What’s on your packing list?