Trade Show Attire: How to Dress for Success

Posted by Tom Hand on Nov 21, 2015 11:00:00 AM in Trade Show Success

How to Dress for a Trade Show

Has this happened to you? Happened to me once:

And this is the only thing I could think: “Seriously?”

This is an all-too-common occurrence at trade shows that is absolutely detrimental to your company's success at the show and it's also 100% preventable.

If you wish to prevent "that one guy" (or gal) from ruining your company's chances at having the most successful trade show yet, take heed of these trade show attire tips so that your team will look like a million bucks on the show floor.

Industry Standards

Before you start planning out your team's “look” for a trade show, it's important to assess your industry as well as the particular event to decipher what dress attire is both acceptable and expected.

For instance, if you work in the fitness industry, then wearing workout gear is probably completely acceptable and expected.

However, if you work in the medical field and are attending a conference where the industry leaders and innovators will be present, then it is wise to get out your Sunday best and dress to impress.

Branded Apparel

"To brand, or not to brand?" That is the question.

It's nice to represent your company and brand by looking the part, which means sporting the company logo on your outfit during the show.

However, try not to get crazy with it and go overboard with the branded apparel. Every article of clothing you wear doesn't have to be branded - a dress shirt or blazer with a simple logo will do.

This is what we go with here at Ace Exhibits when we have a booth at a show because, by our reasoning, we already have a display and other materials around us with our logos and taglines plastered all over them so, if you really need to also brand all of your clothes so people remember you, there’s a problem with your display, your collateral materials or your people.

However, when you wear branded shirts you also get exposure and visibility outside the show floor.

Meaning, when your staff is walking through the halls, the casino or are out on the town in their company bedazzled garments... you get exposure.

Alternatively, a branded name badge or pin could suffice for outfits that you wish to wear, but don't necessarily want branded with your company's logo.

Fit + Comfort

Do yourself a favor and wear clothes and shoes that fit correctly and are comfortable, because trade shows are long and you'll be on your feet entertaining attendees for most of the show.

Ladies: style doesn’t need to be compromised for comfort. If you’re going to wear heels, opt for a stylish heel that’s low and wide. Standing for hours and walking the floors of a vast exhibition hall won’t be fun in four inch heels.

Always opt for more comfortable and professional wardrobe options that aren't distracting to your attendees.

Gentlemen: ensure that your blazer, shirt and pants are tailored yet non-restrictive. After a long day you will appreciate the comfort. Bring a briefcase or laptop bag with you to carry important items, like business cards and device chargers.

Also, please don't think it's a good idea to break-in your new pair of shoes at the trade show, because you'll be in for a very unpleasant and sore surprise when your feet fail you halfway through the first day of the show.

Which reminds me, you can buy flooring for your booth that will keep your feet comfortable so you won’t be standing on hard concrete all day.

Accessories

For trade shows, less is more - unless you work in an industry that sells or manufactures accessories (e.g. jewelry), otherwise it's best to keep your bling to a minimum.

Ladies: if the dress code is conservative business attire, you can let your personality shine through with distinct yet subtle accessories. A modern power suit or dress suit can be brought to life with a solid, colorful blouse or accessory. If you’d rather stick with simple styles and patterns, then don’t be afraid of color. Focus on clothing articles and styles that are timeless.

Women's Trade Show Attire

 

Gentlemen: a rule of thumb for belts and shoes is that they should match or coordinate well. When in doubt, just match the color of your shoes with the color of your belt and you should be in the clear. Take a similar approach with your shirt and tie by matching your tie to the color of a thread in your shirt.

Men's Trade Show Attire

However, if you're a guy who knows how to mix and match colors, pattern and textures like a pro, then go ahead and do your thing.

The key is to look professional, put-together and well-kempt for your audience, otherwise, you run the risk of warding off passer-byers who may be confused by your off-putting appearance.

Hygiene

With this topic, there's so much to talk about, yet so little time.

Let's just say that it's better to be too clean, than not clean enough (if you catch my drift).

Working a trade show booth might not seem like an arduous activity, but chatting up prospects while dressed in professional attire all day isn't the most relaxing thing in the world and it can definitely make you break a sweat throughout the day.

Be sure to shower, apply a sufficient amount of deodorant (maybe even keep some in your bag to reapply throughout the show when needed) and wear a clean shirt every day of the show.

You don’t want to be worried about smelling ripe.

And, no... applying five more sprays of cologne or perfume is not ever the answer, especially when you're going to be within talking distance of prospects/VIP customers.

Be sure to have breath mints on-hand so that you're not killing anyone with your dragon breath, either.

Gum is okay if (and ONLY if) you're not smacking on it while talking to attendees - think of those people you see on camera smacking on gum who look incredibly uncouth, for some reason.

Actually, just stay away from gum.

Conclusion

Your wardrobe probably isn't the first thing you think about when asked to exhibit at a trade show, but it's one of the most important aspects of attracting potential customers to your booth and representing your company properly.

When you're asked to be the face of your company at a trade show, you can be confident in knowing that you will look like a million bucks because you followed the advice listed above.

Download the Free Trade Show Checklist

Subscribe to the Blog

Subscribe to the Ace Exhibits Blog

SUBSCRIBE

Checklist for a Successful Trade Show