Skip to main content
The M Dash

Live with purpose.

What to Wear to a Conference: Outfit Ideas for Every Season

What to Wear to a Conference: Outfit Ideas for Every Season

Low-stress, high-impact looks for commanding the room.

By Madeleine Kim

You’ve RSVP’d for the conference, mapped out the best nearby restaurants, and added everything to your calendar. Now there’s just one question: What are you going to wear? 

Dressing for a conference is kind of like dressing for an interview: You want to achieve that subtle balance of looking professional while also expressing your personal style. But many people forget the second half of that equation and opt for drab workwear that simply blends in. We’re not recommending that you treat a work conference like a runway, but you should feel empowered to wear clothes that make you feel like you, and maybe even take a style risk or two.

Read on for our top tips on dressing for a conference, plus outfit ideas for every time of year. 

How to Dress at a Conference

Tip #1: Check if There’s a Dress Code

It sounds obvious, but it’s worth a reminder: Check if there’s a specific dress code outlined on the conference website or invite before you decide on your outfit. It never feels good to show up to an event and feel out-of-place, so do your homework—you’ll be glad you did.

Tip #2: Reference Photos from Past Conferences

Many conferences happen annually, and chances are, you’ll be able to find photos from previous years with some googling. If the dress code guidelines are vague (or absent), relying on photos is a simple way to get a sense of the general vibe.

Tip #3: Stay True to Your Personal Style

While it’s important to look professional and appropriate for your setting, this is not the time to hide your personal style either. Conferences are excellent opportunities for networking, and it’s difficult to form new connections when you don’t feel like yourself. Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Tip #4: Consider Comfort

Our goal in publishing this style guide is that once you’ve read it and selected your look, you can stop thinking about your conference outfit entirely. Set yourself up for success by choosing comfortable pieces that won’t leave you fidgeting with or adjusting your clothes throughout the day, so you can focus on the task at hand.

What to Wear to a Conference: Outfit Ideas for Every Season

The Summer Conference Outfit

Styling professional outfits for hot weather can be a challenge. To stay polished in the heat, try opting for a machine-washable sleeveless dress like the Maude. This stretchy-yet-structured style features a removable D-ring belt and unique contrast stitching, so you can simply add comfortable shoes and jewelry—no additional styling necessary. If you expect to encounter air conditioning (or if the conference dress code leans formal), keep the Jolie jardigan in your bag as an optional layer. This business casual outfit is made especially summer-ready by its color scheme, featuring chic earth tones that read as neutrals while setting your look apart from the typical black, gray, and navy options.

summer conference outfit
Fall Conference Outfit
The Fall Conference Outfit

Even at a professional conference, you can still express your personal style. For your next fall event, wear slacks that secretly feel like sweatpants with a matching jacket to create a complete stretchy suit in an unexpected neutral. (Pro tip: You can pair the Jordan pants with any shirt and dress shoes to create an easy work outfit in seconds.) The knit, caramel-colored Montean top gives your outfit texture and complements your fall palette, while shiny gold closed-toe pumps guarantee you’ll get compliments from your fellow conference attendees. And who knows? Maybe that compliment will lead to a new addition to your network…

The Winter Conference Outfit

This look is proof that conference attire—and all business attire, for that matter—can be chic, fashion-forward, and professional. Create a column outfit by tucking a sleek navy turtleneck into matching navy dress pants, then add a layer in a different color, such as dark elm. The Yuwei jardigan would be an excellent choice thanks to its sharp lapels, oversized (but not overwhelming) silhouette, and chunky waist belt. Pair all of this with the pointy-toed Lana boots, which add to the column-outfit effect, and a pair of pearl earrings. Want to mix and match with other on-trend styles? Try subbing the jardigan for the trench coat-style Marcella dress, which can be worn open as a long vest.

Winter Conference Outfit
Spring Conference Outfit
The Spring Conference Outfit

If pairing dress shirts with slacks is your go-to professional look, try this unexpected alternative version: the washable-silk Sohee top tucked into the wide-leg Abby pants, which look great on petite and tall women alike. Don’t get us wrong: We love button-down shirts—but trying something with a mock neck instead will keep your outfit ideas feeling fresh, creative, and inspiring. The comfortable Rowan flats are a great option if you’re planning to walk to and from the conference venue, and the gold Claressa hoops give you that styled look. (Psst: Get more petite business attire ideas here.)

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is the Senior Brand Manager at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

See more of Madeleine's articles

Read on.

Back to Top