Conference packing, Spring edition

This week I am headed to a conference that poses a packing challenge because I am wrapping in 2 days of conference with 12 days of visiting my parents in Phoenix. This called for some extreme minimalism: 2 shirts, dress pants, 2 pairs of shoes, and a sweater.

I blogged recently about my hatred of dress pants, and the good news is I’ve found a pair I like a lot at Loft. I actually managed to make a conference outfit that feels like “me” this time around, also, which is progress because I really don’t enjoy business casual clothes.

I’ve started to think more seriously about building a business casual capsule wardrobe as well. I won’t be on the job market for another year, but I’m a slow shopper so I would like to get a start on this now. As part of a capsule wardrobe, I like to pick 4-5 colors and focus on buying clothes in those colors so everything matches (this makes packing for anything AMAZING!).

However, I’m not really sure what colors to go with on this. I would love to do black/camel as my neutral bases and blush (pictured here) and burgundy as accents. However, I can’t deny that I tend to gravitate toward navy and grays also. But, because I’m going to start with a small business wardrobe I think I should start with more limited colors. (PS: I just got these Sam Edelman flats and they are the most comfortable flats I’ve ever owned. Conference MVPs for sure).

What do you think? What colors would you go with? If you’ve built a business capsule, do you have any advice about what items to start with?

Conferences vs. taking care of yourself

Hi all. I just got back from a conference and I am just…so wiped out. Every time I go to a conference I feel such a weird mix of happiness/extroversion and simultaneous extreme discouragement/imposter syndrome/”oh my god all these grad students are better than me.” I also feel like conferences expose this big academic lie that we are all disembodied brains…by which I mean, conferences totally wreck my body. Today I want to take a break from fashion to talk about how much that sucks and how I try to deal with it, and if anyone else has ideas I would really love to hear them…

Here are some things that fall apart on me at conferences: my feet, my brain, my skin, my health…and here’s how I try to deal with them:

1) Feet. I always bring cute shoes, and usually find out around hour four of wearing them that these shoes are traitors and have started acting like a cheese grater on my ankle. Solutions: moleskin (in pre-cut sizes because otherwise you’ll find yourself trying to cut it with a nail clipper in your hotel room..doesn’t work), fast flats (life changing. not real shoes. people at conferences compliment me on them all the time). 

2). Health. I hand sanitize and try not to think about antibiotic resistance. I pack Advil. I pack Tums. I’ve made many friends at conferences administering these things. Also, for prevention, I recommend bringing a probiotic. Oh, and because the food at conferences can be scarce, I research the hotel location ahead of time to decide if I should pack snacks (fruit, protein bars, and pre-packaged oatmeal cups are all excellent choices, especially if the hotel only has one Starbucks and you and 2000 of your closest conference friends are gonna have to fight over it in the morning). 

3) Skin. I don’t have a great solution to this one yet, the unhealthy food/stress combos really make me break out, but my hatred of checking bags makes it hard to bring all the products I need. I did just switch to micellar water (rather than using tap water on my face), which seems to take some of the unpredictability out of traveling, even if it does make me feel really high maintenance. And I book a facial when I return. Other ideas?

All of these solutions frustrate me, though, because they’re all so reactive. How do I prevent myself from falling apart during 72 hours of conferencing? How can I return home feeling revitalized by academic ideas and without a cold/2000 blisters? My only idea on this so far is to take a break from conferencing and change my expectations of how much I can conference. Here are my new self care rules:

1) Take an afternoon to appreciate the host city. Outdoor adventures are really nice when you’ve been inside a hotel for two days. This conference, my friends and I went to an aviary and seeing all the pretty birds was really soothing. 

2) Reset my rules about networking. Networking makes me feel very anxious because it feels fake to me. My new idea (told to me by a prof) is that if I meet and make a connection with one new person, I have done my job. Rather than trying to meet everyone at the conference, I now try to arrange coffee with one person whose research I enjoy. If I do that, I’ve done my job. Pure relief from networking anxiety! And so much more relaxing than stalking people at panels and mixers.  

Anyway, my exhaustion has made me feel introspective about the things we do to ourselves at academic conferences. What other ideas do you all have for taking care of yourself at these stressful events?

Conference packing: What’s in my bag

Conference packing: what’s in my day bag edition.

I usually spend 80% of conference time dealing with feeling bad. The mix of no sleep and lots of germs is never a good one. Here’s what I keep on me at all times: Advil, tums, bandaids, moleskin, foldable flats for when my shoes kill me, water, snacks, writing utensils and notebook, laptop, business cards, hand sanitizer, and oil blotting face sheets.

What to wear to academic conferences

What to wear to an academic conference, pt.3. A pencil skirt can feel tooo business to me (especially when I show up to a conference and half the people there are in flannel/khakis, though I guess that’s a discipline-specific problem), but this button up is soft and casual, unlike a dress shirt, so it tones the skirt down a little.

Skirt- J. Crew

Bag- thrifted (similar)

Shirt- Madewell

Wedges- Nordstrom Rack (Similar)

Glasses- Zenni