PubCon is next week!  A 3-day, multi-track panorama of learning and networking in fabulous Las Vegas.  This will be my 4th PubCon, and I’ve learned a thing or two (Don’t forget to eat dinner, bring more business cards than you think you’ll need, make friends with people who don’t drink so you can steal their drink tickets).  One area where I really feel my experience coming in handy this year: packing.

Packing for PubCon

PubCon is a marathon, not a sprint: you’ll be up in the morning to grab the monorail, at sessions all day, stopping by the post-show happy hours, then meeting your industry pals (old and new) for dinner before hitting the parties.  And the after-parties. And the after-after-party gambling.

In this whirlwind of activity, you’re not always going to have time for a full-on outfit change.  I like to pack day-to-night looks: outfits that can go from conference-comfy to nightlife-fabulous in the time it takes to say “I’m just going to run upstairs and drop off my laptop.”  I refuse to check a bag for a 2-hour flight, so I also go for looks that are going to pack small.

Here are the wardrobe essentials I’ll never hit another PubCon without :

The (Not-Too-Little) Black Dress

not-too-little black dress

A basic black dress is a classic day-to-night look.  Don’t forget the “day” portion of the look – you don’t want to be tromping around the drafty Convention Center all day in your littlest sequined cocktail dress.  Instead, look for something  you can pair with a jacket or cardigan for day, then quickly dress up with a belt and some statement jewelry before you hit that Vegas nightlife.

The Little Fitted Jacket

I originally got this suggestion from Geraldine and it’s a great one: a little fitted jacket can be just about as comfortable as a hoodie, but it makes you look a million times more put together.  Since part of my goal is fitting everything into a carry-on, I go for jackets that don’t have a lot of structure to them (unlike a more traditional blazer) in travel-friendly fabrics like jersey cotton or a light knit.  Anthropologie has some really cute ones right now:

Ballet Flats and Flat Boots

Some girls are able to rock heels all day and not feel a thing, but I’m not one of them.  Vegas means a lot of walking.  Even if you cab everywhere, there are miles of hallway and casino between you and the nearest exit, anywhere you go.  Dressy flats, flat sandals and flat boots (or all of the above with a low stacked or wedge heel) will make you look put-together without making you look like you’re dying in pain.  Plus, it’s fall boot season!  So that’s exciting.

Dressy Jeans

We work in tech.  You’re gonna see some jeans.  Nice jeans are another fantastic day-to-night staple, though – and depending on your dinner plans, you probably won’t be going anywhere SO dressy that jeans won’t be acceptable at night.  During the day, wear a fabulous silky blouse (bonus – these pack down small), and at night quick-change into a “going out” top of your choice.  Add some jewelry and you’re ready to party!

A Fabulous Silky Blouse or Two

See above.  Here are some nice ones.  You can even go sleeveless and simply shed your little fitted jacket at night for instant club appeal:

Statement Jewelry

If you have absolutely no time, the quickest way to change your look between the conference and the party is to put your hair up and throw on some statement jewelry.  I don’t usually bring the nice stuff in case it gets lost (Forever 21 is my go-to for pretty jewelry on the cheap). I like to pack a variety of fun pieces, more than I’ll need so I can choose on the fly.  Plus, we’re going for packability and it’s way easier to fit an extra belt or necklace in your carry-on than an extra outfit.

What Else to Pack

Obviously these wardrobe essentials won’t completely clothe you for 3-5 days (don’t forget clothes to wear on the plane home).  Fill in around the essentials as necessary with things like:

  • A not-so-black dress – dresses take up less space in your bag than separates
  • A sparkly “going out” top or two
  • Some skinny trousers
  • Your company logo tee
  • Probably should also bring like socks and underwear and stuff

Remember to leave room for the swag you’ll take home! Carry a fall coat with you onto the plane – even though it’s the desert, it’s still fall and Vegas can get chilly at night.

There’s a great post over on the Conductor blog about building your PubCon Survival Kit, and I think just about everything on there is worth including.  At the very least, bring a first aid kit with:

  • Band-Aids (in case of blisters)
  • Tums (in case of greasy conference food)
  • Hand sanitizer (you’ll be shaking a lot of hands)
  • Ibuprofen (you’re…gonna need it)

Most of all, don’t forget to get out of your comfort zone.  Talk to someone you don’t know. Invite your Twitter followers to dinner.  Go to a session on something you don’t do.  And come say hi to ME! I’ll be speaking at the Getting the Most from Your SEO Agencies and Advanced Relationship Building for Links panels on Wednesday.  See you there!