If you are an exhibitor at a trade show first impressions count for everything – you are there representing your company and how you look will reflect on the business. There is no point investing in a flashy stand, only to man it will scruffy staff. Trade show and conference attire is a key aspect of your overall presentation. As such, expressing your individual style and personality needs to be balanced with appropriate business attire, practicality and comfort.
If you are a visitor to a trade show comfort is the main consideration – you will be walking around an exhibition hall all day so wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid wearing new shoes or heels. Exhibition halls are notorious for varying temperatures, you might find that the main hall is really warm but then a break-out room has the air-conditioning cranked up, so take plenty of layers.
What to wear at a trade show
B2B Trade Shows
Generally, smart business attire is the most appropriate dress for a B2B trade show. The overall look for your trade show should be approachable while maintaining a level of professionalism. You are there to represent your company so need to look presentable, consider wearing a suit or sports jacket with chinos for men and a dress, skirt or smart trousers with a matching jacket for women. To bring more uniformity to your stand if staff are wearing shirts and ties make sure they are the same colour.
However, don’t forget that you will be on your feet all day, so comfort is paramount. Choose clothes that aren’t too tight or ill-fitting and make sure you wear comfortable shoes – a trade show is not the time to be sporting a brand-new pair. Men should wear polished leather shoes and women should wear smart, conservatively coloured, shoes, without high heels.
All your clothing should be perfectly prepared for the tradeshow and look absolutely spotless. This means that trousers should be pressed, shoes should be polished, and shirts must be ironed.
Don’t wear anything that is too bright or eye-catching – a B2B trade show is not the place for a jazzy tie or loud shirt.
Jewellery should be minimal and elegant. Ensure any tattoos or body piercings are covered or removed. Company branded name badges are a good addition, these make staff more approachable and may even help visitors remember them.
If your trade show attire requires heels or dress shoes, it can be a good idea to bring a pair of comfortable trainers with you. During breaks from your booth, you can change out your formal footwear into more comfortable shoes. Having a spare pair of comfortable shoes is a lifesaver at the end of the day, they make walking off the trade show floor and back to your hotel far more bearable.
B2C Trade Shows
B2C trade shows are generally more casual affaires so suits may not be appropriate. Consider dressing staff in company branded polo shirts or uniforms. This will give a sense of identity and uniformity to your stand. Bear in mind, you do not want to go overboard with your branding, as it can come off as tasteless. Having an easily visible but subtle logo sewn on your shirts is perfect.
Consider your Industry
When you plan your outfits for a trade show, consider the overall feel of the industry you work for. You don’t want to overdress for a casual industry or vice versa. Are jeans okay for a meeting? Then you can probably pack a smart pair of jeans. However, if you’re attending a legal conference a suit will be more appropriate. If it’s a tech conference opt for something business casual in order to stay comfortable throughout the day. You want to make sure you’re dressing to fit in with your niche. This makes you more approachable and leaves a better first impression. Of course, if you’re attending Comic Con and really want to make an impression, dress as a storm trooper or Optimus Prime – you’ll certainly draw the crowds!
Working the trade show floor may not seem like it could make you build up a sweat, however standing all day dressed in professional attire takes its toll. Make sure that you shower every day before you hit the show floor. It is also a good idea to bring deodorant, mints, haircare essentials and other travel sized personal hygiene products with you to your booth; you never know when you will need to freshen up. Also, you want to smell nice for your trade show booth visitors, but you should not go overboard with perfumes and fragrances as too much can be a turn off.
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