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I'm going to my first in-person conference in January, and I also got my abstract accepted so I'll be giving an oral presentation as well (woo!)

But, I have no idea what an acceptable dress code is- for a male, is a suit and tie too dressy? Would khakis be too under-dressed? It's a new environment for me and I'm worried about looking out of place.

Thanks!

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1 hour ago, jewishdrummerboy said:

I'm going to my first in-person conference in January, and I also got my abstract accepted so I'll be giving an oral presentation as well (woo!)

But, I have no idea what an acceptable dress code is- for a male, is a suit and tie too dressy? Would khakis be too under-dressed? It's a new environment for me and I'm worried about looking out of place.

Thanks!

Congratulations on having your abstract accepted!

You could use Google to find video and photos and social media posts from previous conferences to see what others in your peer group wore and go from there. Specific affiliations within an academic discipline may go up or down a level from what you see.

Unless you're absolutely sure that you're not going to experience any stress while giving your presentation, consider the benefits of making wardrobe and grooming choices that help you seem cool, calm, and collected even though you may feel uneasy.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Congrats on the conference acceptance! What you wear will be really dependent on: field, conference, and weather. My field (Rhet/Comp) tends to be more casual in general so it would not be unusual to see a man wearing anything from a polo and nice jeans/khakis to a full suit. At more "prestigious" (think traditional, national, or more longstanding) conferences like MLA, I think there is more of an expectation to dress formally (full suit or traditional businesswear like slacks). My husband is in the STEMs (physics) and he usually wears a full suit and tie for national/international conferences the day he presents and a dress shirt and slacks for the days he's just attending. I remember one conference I attended in which my first day I dressed very nicely for my own presentation, but upon seeing that most people dressed pretty casually, I opted for leggings and a tshirt on day two. I didn't stick out at all and was quite comfortable for the rest of the conference. 

The advice from @sigaba is sound, I might suggest seeing if your conference uses a hashtag as well and searching for past ones on Twitter. Just keep in mind keynote speakers or official conferences photos will likely show people who are dressed up the most. I'll add that you can also ask other graduate students or an advisor/faculty member who you know has attended in the past. They'll be able to steer you towards the right choices.

In general I can say these things have been helpful for me:

  1. People tend to dress their best on the days they present and more casually on the ones they just attend.
  2. Local conferences are generally more casual than national/international.
  3. You can always take a layer off if needed: it's easy to remove a blazer if you feel hot, uncomfortable or overdressed.
  4. Dress for the local weather and conditions. 
  5. You can always mix and match or pack spare clothes. A tie takes up little room in a suitcase and can be added or removed from an outfit. A pair of dress shoes can be swapped for a nice pair of boots or loafers and can be dressed up or down. 
  6. Lastly, dress for your comfort and budget. If a full suit will make you nervous or put you in debt forget about it. People rarely remember what speakers wear but will remember a stellar presentation. 
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Always blows my mind how conferences so often look like funerals. Everyone always goes for black! Obvs women can usually get away with wearing brighter/different colors than men can. I try to at least. Conferences can be stale enough without everyone looking like they're in mourning!

(No problem if wearing black is your thing btw...I just feel like a lot of people opt for it out of habit without thinking). 

Edited by emeraldsapphire
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