Trade Show Attire Do's and Don'ts for Exhibitors
Conventions are niche specific by nature and this is by no means a list of perfect trade show attire for every show and every company. But, if you are going to a corporate trade show especially in the medial or technology industry (set aside the cosplay events like Comic Con and the public events like the Auto Show) this should cover you!
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As an exhibitor, we recommend dressing business casual at a minimum.
Trade Show Attire For Men:
This usually means wearing dress shoes (no sneakers, sandals or casual boots) with slacks or khakis and a nice polo or button up and a blazer to dress things up a bit. However, your shoes should be somewhat comfortable because you'll be on your feet all day. Be sure to style your hair and be groomed as in the same fashion as you would be when going into a business meeting with a potentially big client.
Trade Show Attire For Women:
We recommend a knee length skirt or well-fitting dress pants with a nice blouse or a somewhat conservative knee length dress, low close toed heels or flats and a blazer if you get cold. When in doubt, err on the side of being conservative. All pieces should be well-fitting. Jewelry is not a must but shouldn't be tasteful rather than distracting. We high recommend wearing lipstick and, because of the lighting at events, to wear something a little brighter/bolder than you normally do. We really enjoy the 12+ hour long lasting lipstick that you only need to apply once and stays on for the entire day.
As always, we suggest to dress for the business you look to attract and when in doubt, dress up. For example, if you have high end clientele from Latin America, a well-fitted, sharp business suit is a must for men and a dress or skirt are a must for women. By contrast, if you're going to the SEMA show, although an industry only event, it's a much more casual crowd of auto part buyers so jeans would suffice.
We find that similar colors or branded shirts (like at the San Francisco trade show below) help make a statement for exhibitors (especially for large booths as it makes it easier for attendees to pick out the company employees if they have questions). But, only if the wardrobe fits well. Shirts too big / too small, although branded with a company logo, end up looking sloppy. It also provides a nice way to market your company at the event as your employees walk the show floor or attend meetings.
A few Trade Show Wardrobe Reminders:
- Everything worn should be wrinkle-free
- Attire should be well-fitting
- No holes/tears/rips
- If you want to wear jeans, the darker the better
- A blazer is a great way to dress up a polo for a meeting
- Shoes should be business professional yet comfortable. Never wear shoes you just bought (it will hurt your feet)
- Black pants should be worn with black or colorful dress socks