Fashion and the Foodie:
How to pack for the IFBC
(International Food Blogger Conference)
It’s just a matter of weeks until the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle, and on my travel to-do list, that means it’s about time to start thinking about what I’m going to pack.
A little bit about this conference: the IFBC is presented by Foodista.com and Zephyr Adventures. This will be the fifth iteration of this conference, and my second attendance. The agenda focuses on three themes: Food, Writing, and Technology for the food and lifestyle blogger, and is populated by some big names in food journalism and photography: Dorie Greenspan, James Beard award winning cookbook author; Andrew Scrivani, New York Times Dining section photographer; Kathleen Flinn, best selling author and food writer; and many more folks on the genius scale.
So here are my tips for what to pack to make the most of the IFBC or your next conference
1. Overall Comfort: For me, the stress of the first impression can often render me immobile. And I was so nervous last year when I walked into the hotel that I perched myself in the lobby, buried my head in my phone, and hoped that I could hibernate a little more before actually talking to anyone. But that’s counter-intuitive to the point of going to a conference. I’ve realized since then, that I feel most confident when I’m comfortable in my own skin. So my advice to figuring out what to wear to best impress is to be clean, polished, but above all, comfortable.
2. Shoes: this really should be an obvious one. You will be on your feet a lot, talking to new folks, sampling food and drinks, handing out business cards, running to your next session because you got to chatting and lost track of time—you get the point. Wear sensible shoes! I know the urge to try to be “cute” and all, and that pair of flowered pumps would just say so much about your perky personality, but guaranteed, you’ll regret it. My go-to for comfort are Converse all-stars, all black so they go with everything. They’re cute, comfy, I’m set to go.
3. Jeans: not what you’re thinking. Everything I read says that a nice pair of dark-wash jeans is a must-have for one’s wardrobe. I’ve tried to be a jeans-kind of girl, but being plus size, they often feel constricting or get all stretched out after an hour of sitting, or have weird back pockets that aren’t so flattering. So, I got over it. For me, a soft pair of black cotton trousers with a little give in them or a cotton maxi skirt will stand the test of time—both during a long day of conference sessions, as well as in the broad scheme of fashion trends. Wear one pair, pack an extra, especially for a foodie conference where eats and drinks are often flowing hourly. Let’s face it: none of us are immune to the food-slop faerie at one time or another.
4. For tops, I highly suggest layering. Airplanes and hotels are notorious for not being the most consistently climate-controlled, so bring cute short-sleeved or sleeveless tops in soft, breathable cotton, but throw in a neutral cardigan, pashmina or scarf as well. Pick one color scheme where everything mixes and matches, and you take fewer items that way. Last year I took one outfit for day sessions and a couple options for evenings. DON’T. There will be very little time in between events to go and change, and you’ll be so exhausted by then that once you hit your room again, all you’ll want to do is sleep and recharge for that 7am breakfast session the next day. If you want a quick transition for an evening mixer, keep some bolder jewelry or a sparkly scarf in your handbag. Tuck the sweater away, expose your arms, and reach for that cocktail!
5. For a handbag, I find that a cross-body bag works well since it’s hands-free. You’ll spend a lot of time walking around, so it’s nice not to have to worry about setting your bag down every time you hand out a business card or taste that little morsel from the Taste of Seattle Gourmet Fair. I like water-resistant ripstop nylon, like Kipling, Baggallini or Haiku. These are colorful and stylish choices but also very lightweight, so it makes carrying your iPad or small laptop easier.
6. And to keep your gadgets charged, check out this little portable charger. I carry one in my bag all the time, and it’s so handy to give your phone or tablet a quick charge on the go.
7. When it comes to luggage, I have only one word to say: SWAG. Stuff We All Get, and trust me, you’ll get a lot of it! I was overwhelmed by as much SWAG as we got last year at the IFBC. So if you take anything away from this post, take this: pack the bare minimum for clothing in a larger suitcase so that you have room to bring home all of that awesome stuff. One woman I met last year came with only one over-stuffed backpack. Luckily there was a mall across the street so she could go buy a suitcase just to get her stuff home.
8. Business cards: you can’t have too many. The conference will undoubtedly give you a lanyard with your name on it, and this little sleeve around your neck is the perfect place to tuck a small stack of your cards for easy access. No one likes that awkward moment when you’re digging through your bag to find a business card. That person could be already looking for their next contact, so make the connection quick.
That’s all I have for now. I’m so looking forward to this year’s IFBC, and although I’m still very nervous for that first impression, at least I know I’ll be comfortable in my clothes. Just remember that you don’t have to try to fit in. Owning who you are can radiate the most confidence and the best impression every time. If you’re interested in my post-conference thoughts from last year, go here.