Like it or not, you’re often judged by your appearance as well as your professionalism when it comes to work, which means figuring out what to wear to a conference can be tricky.

Perhaps you usually work from home, so you don’t go into an office environment at all, or maybe the event you are attending calls for a more casual – or a more formal – type of business dress than you usually wear. We will give you all the best outfit ideas for your next conference, so you can feel confident in front of a new set of people, whether you’re preparing for an in-person event or a virtual conference.

What to think about when choosing what to wear to a conference

When deciding on how to dress for a conference, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Where is the conference?

We’re all working differently these days. It may be that you travel for business and are heading to a physical, in-person event, or perhaps you are attending a virtual conference.

Either way, you will have to consider the weather and the formality of the venue when choosing your outfits.

What is the conference dress code?

If you have been invited to a conference, you may find that there is a dress code on the invitation – both for the conference itself and any associated evening events. Make sure you follow the code, while adding your own style twists so you can fit in with the crowd – but also stand out!

How long are you there for?

If you will be travelling for a few days, it’s best to consider your conference attire in terms of a capsule wardrobe. That way, everything will go with everything else – making getting dressed each day a breeze. Read on and you’ll see I’ve put together an example conference capsule for you!

Is it just work? Or will you get time to relax too?

Does your hotel have a pool, for example or will you get the chance to catch up with old friends in the destination you are going to. You may want to take your swimsuit, or some more casual wear.

What to wear to a conference or business meeting: example outfits

The style of outfit you choose will depend on the type of conference you are attending. Below are a few outfit examples which should fit in at most conferences, presentations and meetings…

Business casual

Dimitie wears casual pants with a more formal blazer |

If there’s no dress code on your conference invitation, your safest bet is to opt for outfits which are “business casual”. Mix formal elements of business attire with more casual items such as a printed blouse or flat loafers, for example.

Dimitie (above) looks professional and put together without looking stuffy and overly formal.

Recreate her look with this similar top, blazer, wide leg pants, slingback pumps and belt.

What to wear to a conference - business casual |

BOSS split neck blouseHalogen one-button blazerrag & bone gingham crop pantsSARTO by Franco Sarto pointed toe flatBéis work toteUncommon James by Kristin Cavallari pendant necklace

Formal conference attire

What to wear to a conference: Jas wears a black pant suit |

If the conference that you are attending is very formal, this will usually mean a more traditional business suit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still add your own style elements.

Jas (above) wears a formal black suit, but she adds some playfulness by mixing her prints. Notice her polka dot blouse worn with leopard print shoes.

Check out this similar blouse, blazer, pants, pumps, handbag and sunglasses.

A pencil skirt and blzer outfit for a conference |

BOSS split neck blouseHalogen one-button blazerMing Wang side slit knit midi skirtNaturalizer slingback pumpKate Spade New York laptop bag Ted Baker London monogram scarf

Video conferencing and online meetings

what to wear to a video conference |

Many of us are holding meetings via video conferencing tool at the moment. If this is the case for you, then sitting in your home in a full business suit doesn’t seem right. Concentrate on wearing something smart and stylish on your top half. I’d avoid busy prints and patterns on camera.

It really doesn’t matter whether you are wearing jeans, shorts (or even pajama bottoms) on your bottom half, as no one will see.

Annette (above) opts for a semi-formal shirt on top and wears with leggings and sandals.

Steal her look with this similar denim shirt, leggings, slides, earrings and necklace.

a top and pants outfit for a video conference |

Joie silk blouseFrank & Eileen trouser sweatpantsJessica Simpson faux fur slipperBony Levy hoop earrings

Reception or night out with colleagues

Monika wears a bright pink dress |

A conference or work presentation often isn’t all about working during the day. You may find that there are evening events too – perhaps as a way to meet other attendees, or to wrap up the event – so you need to factor this in when thinking about what to wear to a conference.

Monika (above) wears a bright, structured, dress which could be worn with a black blazer during the day, and then funked up with silver heels during the evening.

Check out these dresses from Tommy Bahama and Amazon and wear with this similar pair of pumps and necklace.

An asymmetrical dress outfit to wear to a conference |

COS drape dressSteven New York slide sandalNina crystal minaudièreSet & Stones drop earringsKendra Scott cuff bracelet

Conference capsule: Your conference packing list

If you are heading away for a few days, you will find some of the best pieces to choose for a conference, which you can mix and match so you’re presentation ready.

The perfect conference shirts and tops

Joy wears a white shirt and black pants |

You’re likely to want one shirt or blouse for each day of the conference but you can take fewer pants and skirts.

Joy (above) wears a white shirt which would go with everything in your conference closet.

Get her look with this similar shirt, trousers, pumps, necklace, earrings and handbag.

shirts and blouses to wear to a conference |

BOSS split neck blouseEquipment silk shirtHalogen v-neck topBP. scoop back t-shirt

What to wear to a conference: Conference blazers

Susie wears a blazer outfit which would be perfect for a business conference |

A blazer is the perfect jacket for a conference. If your work is casual, you can wear your blazer with dark jeans. Or, you can wear more formally with a matching pair of pants or skirt. If you want to make sure you stand out – perhaps because you will be speaking on stage – you could choose a bright color and wear with neutrals.

Take a look at how to fit a blazer to make sure yours looks just right.

If you need outerwear for heading outside your conference venue, a trench coat is a good option as you can wear with day and evening wear.

Susie (above) opts for an all-black outfit which creates a flattering column effect, tops with a blazer and accessorizes with a Givenchy handbag

Recreate her outfit with this similar blazer, jeans, slingback pumps and sunglasses.

blazers and coats for a business conference |

Nordstrom Signature plaid blazerHalogen one-button blazerTed Baker London ruched sleeve crop jacketBoden trench coat

Conference pants, skirts and dresses

Karen wears a profession neutral outfit |

You may prefer pants or perhaps you would rather pack dresses. Either way, one pair of trousers or one skirt per two days should be fine.

Karen (above) shows that, while darker colors are often worn in business, pale neutrals can work just as well.

Check out this similar top, blazer, pants, sandals, tote, earrings and necklace.

pants and dresses to wear to a conference |

Vince Camuto sheath dressEliza J tie waist balloon sleeve jumpsuitVince crop trousersMing Wang side slit knit midi skirt

Conference shoes

Fee wears smart loafers, pants and a yellow blouse |

You should be able to manage with one pair of shoes, particularly if you opt for a neutral shade. However, you may want to choose to pack two – one pair of heels and one pair of flats.

Fee (above) wears pointed loafers with her black pants and mustard yellow blouse.

Steal her look with this similar blouse, pants and flats.

heels and flats to wear to a conference |

Tory Burch logo ballet flatSARTO by Franco Sarto pointed toe flatNaturalizer slingback pumpJ. Renée slingback pump


black jeans and a neutral blazer for a business conference |

Arguably the most important thing to think about are your accessories. If you choose a palette of neutrals – such as blacks, navy and white for your conference attire, you can easily change your outfits by adding vibrant accessories.

@mymidlifestylist (above) wears a palette of neutrals and adds interest with her leopard print scarf.

Check out this similar shirt, blazer, pants, pumps, handbag, scarf, earrings and sunglasses.

Accessories to wear to a business conference |

Kate Spade New York leather laptop bagNordstrom leather minaudièreNordstrom cashmere & silk scarfNordstrom print modal & silk scarfJane Basch stud earringsela rae collar necklace

Your conference capsule wardrobe

Below you can see many of the clothes, shoes and accessories from above put together in a conference capsule.

A capsule wardrobe for conferences and presentations |

A weekend bag to put it all in

Last but not least, if you are going away for a business conference, you will need a bag the right size to put a few days of outfits in. Choose one on wheels that will easily fit into a cabin. That way, you won’t have to wait for your luggage when you arrive at your destination.

AirTraveler rolling briefcase to pack your conference attire into |

AirTraveler rolling briefcase

What do you pack when you are heading to a business conference? I’d love to hear about your own essentials.

Continue reading:

  1. What To Wear To Work: A Professional Capsule Wardrobe
  2. How To Wear Jeans To Work And Still Look Professional
  3. The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Capsule Wardrobe That Works For You

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What to wear to a conference or presentation to look stylish AND professional |

Feature image by Susie

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