Exactly What to Pack for a Work Conference

by The Belle Voyage
Work conferences can be one of two kinds.  The first kind takes place in Vegas with no deliverable at the end and no per diem expense limit – oh and you can wear jeans.  Someone let me know when that conference is, please!  The conferences I attend are just the opposite: located somewhere that requires a layover in O’Hare, filled with hours upon hours of technical sessions, and take place in convention centers the size of Rhode Island.  And yes, business formal attire is required.

Getting there can be half the battle which is why I always bring a carry-on bag.  Trust me: you don’t want to be the one whose bag got lost on the way there.  Remember that part in Up in the Air when Anna Kendrick shows up at the airport for her first flight with George Clooney (the million-mile frequent flyer) and Anna has a gigantic suitcase, sans wheels, that weighs more than she does?  And then it breaks?  That is what we are trying to avoid.


I’ve been conference-going for years, so by now I have the packing routine down to a science – and it all fits into a lightweight carry-on!  Here are my tips on exactly what to pack for your next work conference:

  1. Step 1: Yes, you need a suit.  Here’s my trick: stick with a suit that has a dress, a skirt and a jacket that goes with both.  No pants.  Why?  Flats, girl.  Flats are about to be your best friend.  I literally walk MILES – yes, verified by my pedometer – in gigantic convention halls and there is no way that is happening in heels.  So leave your suit pants at home and rock those flats.
  2. Step 2: Add a few other pieces to go with your suit pieces – this will give you plenty of other outfit choices for daytime meetings and evenings out.
  3. Step 3: Add a simple necklace that goes with everything, a bag that fits your laptop, and of course….a pair of flats.
Here’s the rundown of exactly what I pack for a work conference.  Add some dark skinny jeans and a versatile jacket for the way there – and you’re set!
What to Pack for a Work Conference

Skirt: J. Crew Super 120’s

Dress: J. Crew Emmaleigh

Blazer: J. Crew Sidney Jacket

Cardigan: Tory Burch

Sleeveless top: Tory Burch

Blouse: Joie

Necklace: Sydney Evan

Flats: Tory Burch

Handbag: Tory Burch

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