Trade Show Dress Code

by Scott Price

Dressing For Success

After all of the planning and hard work is completed, you're ready to hit the exhibit floor! While your company’s trade show exhibit will be the prime focus of the conference or event you’re attending, you and your staff will be your company's ambassadors. By understanding the dress code for the event, you can ensure you’ll be putting your best foot forward and impressing attendees.

DRESS FOR THE TRADE SHOW EXHIBIT EVENT

Although most venues don’t have a formal dress code, they usually have fairly clear guidelines that attendees and exhibitors are expected to follow. In most cases, casual clothes are frowned on; exceptions include sports themed events and recreational events such as boat shows. For professional conferences (medical, legal, etc.) you should always dress as though it were an important day at the office. If you’d wear a suit to meet your CEO, then a suit is best for a trade show booth.

DRESS FOR THE VENUE

Make sure you check with the venue where your trade show exhibit and banner stands will be displayed. There’s a huge difference between padded, carpeted flooring and a concrete convention hall. The harder the floor, the more comfortable your shoes will need to be. Women should avoid wearing sandals; they look too informal and toe and foot injuries are common in areas where there is a lot of wiring for dozens of trade show booths.

WARDROBE DETAILS ARE IMPORTANT

Don’t forget that you’ll be working long hours on your feet at your trade show exhibit and dress accordingly. You can dress professionally and still be comfortable if you keep a few things in mind:

1. Your shoes will make or break your comfort when you’re on your feet for hours. Women should avoid high heels; today there are gorgeous flats that will work with any business suit or dress you may wear. Whatever you do, don’t wear new shoes or you’ll have aching, blistered feet before the end of the first day.

2. Be aware of the norms in your industry and scale down or cover body art or piercings in order to avoid standing out as “inappropriate.” In most cases, earrings are fine, but pierced noses and eyebrows can be viewed with disfavor in more conservative industries. Remember, when working the booths and banner stands it’s about representing the company, not expressing your personal taste.

3. You can wear jewelry in moderation. The pieces should be classic and understated rather than loud and intrusive. An armful of bangles is distracting and there’s already plenty of noise on the convention floor; you don’t want to have to compete with jangling jewelry to be heard.

4. Polish your shoes! This sounds simple, but there are executives who have admitted they check out the shoes of company reps. Scuffed or neglected shoes say you aren’t interested in the details, which is a bad message no matter how awesome your trade show exhibit is.

5. Working trade show booths means shaking a lot of hands, so be sure your hands look their best. If possible, get a manicure a day or two before the event so your hands are well groomed. Women should choose either a pale, neutral nail color or stick with a clear coat of polish.

6. Take a small sewing kit with a needle, thread and a lint brush for quick clean-ups or repairs.

With all of these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to dress for success and have a great show!

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