There are several things to consider when packing what you plan to wear for the ACFW 2014 Conference (or any conference really)
1) Consider the time of year – Check the weather forecast where you will be before you pack. The weather where you live might not be a big help…
You wouldn’t want to get there and discover you’ve got three days of rain to deal with an no umbrella. Or a scorching heat wave and you packed sweaters and boots.
Having said that…
2) Even if the weather is going to be hot where you are, think about other contributing factors… If you are staying in the same hotel where the conference is being held, you may not go outside much during the actual sessions – and meeting rooms often over air-condition so bring a light sweater or jacket… just in case.
Think about how often you will be in the hotel though. Don’t count on being inside the whole time and only pack warm clothes. You will have some free time and you’ll want to go out and explore!
If Cindy Woodsmall invites you out of the hotel for coffee (make note that there is a Starbucks right there in the hotel – smart on ACFW’s part I think!), you don’t want to say no because you know you’ll be a puddle before you finish the first cup.
3) Think about the events of the conference. For example: the ACFW conference kicks off on Thursday evening with a Genre dinner. This is where attendees can dress according to their genre if they wish. It’s fun but the business-casual attire you bring for the regular sessions may or may not fit into your particular theme… Also, the business-casual attire you would want to wear for the rest of the conference might be a little too casual for the big awards dinner on Saturday night so keep that in mind as well.
On this note, I will say that it is clearly stated in the conference general info that dressing up for your genre is 100% optional. And if you choose not to dress up, don’t skip the dinner – there will be plenty of other authors who choose not to dress in costume or whose genre doesn’t really lend itself to a costume.
Also I should note that, while the Gala dinner is a fancy affair, ACFW has specified that they do not want ANYONE to miss it because they don’t have a fancy evening gown or tux so the dress code is anything from Sunday dressy – Evening wear.
I’m thinking that means no jeans, no shorts, no flip-flops but a nice dress or blouse and skirt (or a nice polo and khakis for the guys) should be good enough.
Also, there is A LOT you can do to dress up an outfit. Wear a sparkly scarf or a bedazzled belt (sorry guys – no idea how to suggest you dress up your outfits but then…guys usually look pretty dressy if they wear loafers – penny or no – so go with that).
4) Be kind to your feet. Other than the Awards Gala – where you will want to dress to impress, you are probably looking at quite a bit of walking. You want to give your feet as much of a break as you can because you can’t listen effectively to Steve Laube tell you about how to get past the slush pile if your arches are screaming at you…
So bring the fancy heels but save them for the Awards Gala and wear the comfy shoes to your sessions!
Last but not least…
5) Remember where you are! Yes, quite a few of the authors in ACFW write Amish fiction. No, we don’t expect you to show up in Plain dress.
But… everyone should keep in mind that this is the American Christian Writers of America and dress accordingly. Plus it’s just good business sense to look smart… not slouchy or inappropriate. Might want to nix the skinny jeans…
And you know… even if you’re applying this information to a future conference you attend, it’s never a good idea to show up to a meeting with an agent sporting a plunging neckline – you’re trying to sell a book after all and if the agent is distracted by your charms, how can you dazzle him with your fabulous book idea?
There they are. I hope these tips help with your packing. No excuses like “I have nothing to wear…” will do. You have a month to shop. Get to it!
Good Day and GOD Bless!