Curvy Style: What to Wear to a Creative Conference

 Photos by Keith Williams. Styling by Sherly Tavarez.

Conferences are a regular thing for those of us who work in creative industries. I attend at least a couple a year, and am currently getting ready to head to one of my favorites--the Hispanicize conference in Miami. This will be my third time attending this huge media conference that brings together Latino creatives and professionals from all around the US and Latin America.

Earlier this month, my friend Sherly Tavarez (a super talented blogger, stylist, and the creative director of asked me and another blogger friend, Ada Rojas, to model a couple Spring looks from Macy's that are perfect for Hispanicize and other similar creative conferences.

Click over to Sherly's page for her style tips (also be sure to follow her on Instagram!) and scroll down for my advice about what I like to keep in mind when shopping and packing for blogger conferences.

1. Stay True to Your Personal Style
One of the best things about being involved in creative or media jobs, is that we usually have a lot more flexibility in the way we can dress and express ourselves than in many other professions. Whether your style is super casual or dressed to the nines, don’t feel pressured to change it to fit in.  If you usually rock jeans or casual outfits; then do that! No need to force yourself into trends that will make you feel awkward or uncomfortable.

2. But Don’t Be Afraid to Play!
If you DO enjoy trying out new trends and styles, this is definitely the time to do it! If you, like me, work mostly from home, this can be especially fun to get out of the usual fashion rut. Pull out those favorite outfits, the cute shoes you never get to wear, or even splurge on that dress you’ve been stalking online. The variety of events throughout the conference will guarantee that you have an occasion to try a few different styles (plus you’ll have plenty of friends around to take cute pix!)

3. Keep it (Kinda) Profesh
Despite the above points, it is important to note that this IS a career event. Be true to yourself and have fun, but remember that you’re going to be meeting with clients (and potential clients!), colleagues, mentors, etc. First impressions matter, and your outfits reflect that. If you're feeling a little uncomfortable or unsure about something, just skip it. Better to play it a little safe, than to spend a meeting feeling awkward about something you're wearing.

4. Choose Flattering Cuts & Styles
This is something that will be individual to everyone, but  I think most of us have something on our bodies that we don’t feel super comfortable about. For me it’s my arms. They’re a bit chubbier than the rest of my upper body and when caught in the wrong angle make me look bigger than I am. I’m all for body positivity and confidence, etc., but that doesn’t erase the fact that I also don’t want to see 40 pictures of myself on Facebook highlighting a body part I'm not totally crazy about.

To avoid that, I look for clothing that I’m totally comfortable with being photographed or filmed in from any angle—that means particular cuts and necklines, or loose blazers or blouses that cover my arms. This may not be an issue for you, but if it is, it's an easy way to avoid feeling unhappy later when the event photos start rolling in.

5. Speaking of which…Remember those Cameras!
Cameras are everywhere at conferences. Promotional videos shot by organizers and sponsors, local news stations covering events, phones and DSLRs in the hand of just about every attendee, and don’t forget those ubiquitous Boomerang and GIF photo booths!

Just being at a conference means that you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up on camera a lot. You might even end up doing impromptu interviews or Facebook Live broadcasts! Keep this in mind when planning out your outfits as there are some things that definitely look better on camera than others.

While I’m not a fan of hard “rules” when it comes to dressing, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Tight geometric patterns like stripes, polka dots, hounds-tooth, etc., create optical illusions on screen that are distracting. Solid colors or larger patterns (like a large floral) will usually work best. Definitely one of those cases where if you're unsure, don't risk it. Better to be safe, than to look like a weird optical illusion in the back of a Reader's Digest magazine.
  • All white and all black are also tough on the camera. White reflects too much light, and black absorbs it. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear a bit of each, but try to break it up with some other colors.
  • Very loose blouses and dresses (think tent style dresses, batwing or dolman blouses, large bunchy sweaters or coats, etc) obscure your figure and look larger on camera (particularly if like me you have a larger bust and/or hips). I have so many dresses that look super cute in real life or even in a well-posed still photo, but which make me look like a pregnant marshmallow on video.
  • Camera lights and flashes can turn some fabrics see-through. Silk, any kind of burnt-out or thin cotton fabric, sheer blouse or dresses of any color, lace, and some thinner white fabric has a way of transforming when hit with bright light. This may not be bad if you pair it with the right undergarments, but just keep it in mind so you don’t end up like my mother-in-law’s friend whose nipples are visible in a bunch of my wedding photos (true story!).

    6. Bring Back-Ups
    Conferences are LONG. With breakfast meetings or panels starting around 7 or 8 all the way through to those evening events, you might find that you have to switch things up throughout the day.
    • A cardigan, blazer, or pashmina to layer over dresses and tops can help keep you warm in freezing conference rooms, protect you from the sun during outdoor events, or even turn a casual outfit into something a little more professional or formal for a meeting or unexpected dinner.
    • A back-up pair of flats or heels in your bag is also helpful. It can turn that casual outfit into something dressier for an evening event, or provide a little relief for tired feet after walking around all day.

    7. Prepare for Hair Emergencies
    Rainy days, humid weather, hot outdoor events, or just long hours can all take a toll on even the most perfect hairstyle. Having a few emergency supplies in your bag (Hair ties, bobby pins, hair spray, etc.) can be a lifesaver when you get caught in the rain on your way to an important meeting.

    8. Remember the Weather
    This is another point that seems super basic, but it can really make or break a trip. Pay attention to the weather. Even if you've been to the location 8 times, take another look to make sure the weather isn't doing something unexpected. These days, weather can swing wildly so be prepared. (Or be prepared to go do some emergency shopping!)

    A Few Other Essentials
    • Undergarments: Yeah, I know you already know to bring these, but double-check to make sure your bras/panties match all the outfits you’re bringing. Nothing worse than pulling out that cute strapless dress, only to realize you totally left your strapless bra at home (this has definitely happened to me!).
    • Bikinis/Bathing Suits: A lot of conference hotels have pools or hot tubs on site—and some are even located by the beach! I always bring them along and book an extra day or two so that I can enjoy after the work is done, but even if you don’t think you’ll have time to take advantage, bring it just in case. You never know when a flight-delay, cancelled meeting, or early evening will gift you a few extra hours. 
    • Workout Clothing: I love working out at hotel gyms, and always make sure to bring along at least one set of workout gear that I can wash in the bathroom sink. You might also want to give your hotel a call to see if they provide workout clothing--some larger chains like Marriott and Starwood will let you borrow sneakers so you don't have to bring your own. 
    • Umbrella: I have a small travel umbrella that I love and bring with me. Hotels usually will loan you one if you need it, but they’re always the big bulky cane-like one that’s no fun to carry around all day.
    • Travel Steamer: The only thing worse than wrinkled clothing, are hotel irons. Get yourself a travel steamer (I have this one in pink). It heats up in a minute and gets rid of all the wrinkles super quickly without damaging the fabric. (I literally burned a hole right in the middle of my dress with a crappy hotel iron on a recent business trip and had to improvise a last-minute solution. Don’t be like me!)

    Outfit & Shopping Details
    Maxi Dress: Tommyxgigi Silk Printed Maxi Dress, Macy's
    White Blazer: 1.State Three-Quarter-Sleeve Open-Front Jacket, Macy's
    Denim Jumpsuit: Rachel Rachel Roy Strapless Jumpsuit, Macy's
    Jacket: Rachel Rachel Roy Printed Bomber Jacket, Macy's
    Stylist: Sherly Tavarez
    Photographer: Keith Williams

    I was not compensated for this post, but thanks to Macy's for letting us borrow these cute outfits for the shoot! (I'm totally going to be buying that 1.State blazer to wear all summer long!)

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