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Trade Show Exhibit Dress Code: Dressing For Success

tradeshows dress for success

Your company’s trade show exhibit is the focal point for any conference or event you’re attending, but it won’t be the only thing representing your business.  You and the rest of the staff will also get plenty of attention.  By understanding the dress code for any event, you can ensure you’ll be putting your best foot forward and impressing attendees.

Dress For The Trade Show Exhibit Event

Although most venues don’t have a formal dress code, they usually have fairly clear guidelines that attendees and exhibitors are expected to follow.  In most cases, casual clothes are frowned on; exceptions include sports themed events and recreational events such as boat shows.  For professional conferences (medical, legal, etc.) you should always dress as though it were an important day at the office.  If you’d wear a suit to meet your CEO, then a suit is best for a trade show booth.

Dress For The Venue

Make sure you check with the venue where your trade show exhibit and banner stands will be displayed.  There’s a huge difference between padded, carpeted flooring and a concrete convention hall.  The harder the floor, the more comfortable your shoes will need to be.  Women should avoid wearing sandals; they look too informal and toe and foot injuries are common in areas where there is a lot of wiring for dozens of trade show booths.

Wardrobe Details Are Important

Don’t forget that you’ll be working long hours on your feet at your trade show exhibit and dress accordingly.  You can dress professionally and still be comfortable if you keep a few things in mind:

1.  Your shoes will make or break your comfort when you’re on your feet for hours.  Women should avoid high heels; today there are gorgeous flats that will work with any business suit or dress you may wear.  Whatever you do, don’t wear new shoes or you’ll have aching, blistered feet before the end of the first day.

2.  Be aware of the norms in your industry and scale down or cover body art or piercings in order to avoid standing out as “inappropriate.”  In most cases, earrings are fine, but pierced noses and eyebrows can be viewed with disfavor in more conservative industries.  Remember, when working the booths and banner stands it’s about representing the company, not expressing your personal taste.

3.  You can wear jewelry in moderation.  The pieces should be classic and understated rather than loud and intrusive.  An armful of bangles is distracting and there’s already plenty of noise on the convention floor; you don’t want to have to compete with jangling jewelry to be heard.

4.  Polish your shoes!  This sounds simple, but there are executives who have admitted they check out the shoes of company reps.  Scuffed or neglected shoes say you aren’t interested in the details, which is a bad message no matter how awesome your trade show exhibit is.

5.  Working trade show booths means shaking a lot of hands, so be sure your hands look their best.  If possible, get a manicure a day or two before the event so your hands are well groomed.  Women should choose either a pale, neutral nail color or stick with a clear coat of polish.

6.  Take a small sewing kit with a needle, thread and a lint brush for quick clean-ups or repairs.

With all of these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to dress for success and have a great show!

Capturing & Managing Leads at Trade Shows Book

In this book, Skyline has compiled 27 blog posts originally published in the Skyline E-TIPS blog. The posts combine valuable information about trade show and event staffing, giveaways and lead management. From experienced trade show consultants, traditional marketers and digital marketing practitioners, these authors know Trade Shows and how to leverage modern technology (lead applications) and techniques to improve leads collected at your trade shows and events. We also dive into effective giveaways and booth staffing.

About the Author

Scott Price was President of Skyline New Jersey and is currently retired.

8 responses to “Trade Show Exhibit Dress Code: Dressing For Success

  1. Great tips! Looking your best is a reflection on you and your business. Just because you are out of the office doesn’t mean you should let your appearance go.

  2. Thank you for these tips. What do you think about the companies that have a color that represents them and asks their employees to wear a polo shirt with the business logo on it? What would you suggest for women?

  3. I recently received a tip from Hillary Howes that she swears works. Take two pair of shoes to the booth with you each day and switch half-way through. Every pair of shoes rubs differently on your feet and this trick ensures you are not getting blisters and that different parts of your feet can get a bit of a rest.

    I’ve tried every single type of “comfort” shoe, Cole Haan with Nike Air technology, Aerosoles, Dansko, Merrel it never mattered…after four hours on my feet, my dogs were killing me. I’m going to try Hillary’s trick next time I’m on the show floor.

  4. I attend a lot of medical conferences. I bring 2 pairs of shoes in my briefcase – start off usually with a pair of heels, no higher than 2 1/2″, and preferably peep toe (less pressure on the toes that way), and switch to a flat either during lunch or mid-day. It helps keep the pain level down. Also, I bring a wrap or pashmina with me, as the convention hall usually gets chilly. If wearing a sleeveless sheath dress, I wear a dressy cardigan rather than a suit jacket, which tends to overwhelm me. Looks just as dressy, but not stiff. I find it is easier to move in dresses than slacks. Always always make sure you have a sewing kit, and lint roller. Some double-stick tape is helpful in case your hem unravels (also helps if something in your display is going askew). Breath mints. Lots of them. Chap stick.

  5. The #1 thing we do is have good flooring in your booth. (we sell floors so that is easy for us) But that makes a big difference & when I get customers into the booth (also with sore feet) tend to stay and talk when you have a soft floor.

  6. I’m not trying to one-up Traci, but I change both my shoes and my socks, (but then, I wear socks). Men’s shoes are traditionally more ‘closed’ than women’s, so the heat accumulates more readily.

  7. Pingback: Dress (and act) for success by aligning your appearance with your marketing message | Epic Displays Blog

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