Helping Women Achieve in Academic Science

Fashion of Conferences

Attending a conference for the first time? Wondering what to wear? This is a common issue for women, especially young women, because women have a lot of options. Men have very few options, and thus, their world is clearer and easier to navigate. Women have many many options. Dress, skirt, suit with skirt, pants suit, jeans, boots, heels, flats, sneakers, sweater, button-up shirt, blazer, make-up, no make-up? And don’t even get me started on hair!

So, I am going to do what other women’s blogs have done and do a conference fashion show. Of course, different conferences have different styles, so I will be specific that these shots were taken from the world’s largest PHYSICS conference. I have poorly concealed the identities of our terrific models. I will add more in future from other disciplines in future posts. Until then, enjoy!

Our first selection is the suit look.

PhysicsFashion-2 PhysicsFashion-3 PhysicsFashion-6

Several women, especially on the day of giving their invited talks, will wear pants suits. Many are black, but gray was also spotted, although I don’t have pictures of those. You can also use separates – different color blazer and pants.   The shirt under the blazer is typically a nice color, but not low-cut. Physicists don’t really show cleavage, as you will see. I think when there are so few women, you don’t want to flaunt your boobs. The shoes are quite sensible. Typically physics-types favor flats. Also, though you cannot see it due to the censor bars, the make-up is very light or non-existent.

 

Our second selection is a very nice look that I really like – a nice dress.

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The dresses are well-fitting and again – no cleavage. Opaque tights under knee-high boots can be dark, or just a flash of color if the dress and boots are too dark. A nice jacket or blazer over the top can finish the look to give a flare of color or make it look a little more professional. You can also add a nice scarf.

 

 

Finally, the most casual look is jeans and a sweater.

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Physicists can be wonderfully casual, but you still want to look decent. Again – no cleavage. You want your jeans to fit fairly well. Both these models are wearing dark jeans, although I have seen colored jeans, and medium wash. Acid wash and other more flamboyant washes were not observed. When someone says that a conference is “casual” this is what they mean. They do not mean you can wear shorts or ratty clothes.

So, I hope this fashion show was helpful. I think the biggest thing I noticed, as I mentioned several times above, is that the clothing are not at all revealing. This should be considered since some “professional” shirts can be quite low-cut or skirts can be a bit too short. Scientists are basically conservative when it comes to sexualization due to clothing, so that should be kept in mind. In a field, like physics, where women are really under-represented, over-sexualizing yourself with your clothes is a risky idea, since men and more often other women will think you are a ditzy bimbo and think you are not competent due to your clothing. Is that fair?? No! But, it is life. You often have to the look the part you are trying to play.

Thanks again to all my models!

Comments on: "Fashion of Conferences" (5)

  1. Great post! For the first conference I ever attended, I went out and bought a black skirt suit for the day I presented. Someone at the conference old me to never wear skirts to a physics conference because it makes it too obvious you are a woman. Personally, I like making it obvious I am a woman. The more visible we are, I think the better chance we have of eroding bias based on gender. However, I do agree with your post that you shouldn’t be too sexual. Maybe I am just a little too Southern, but I think it is very unprofessional for any field.

    Recently I went to a Chemistry conference. The attire was shocking for me coming from the physics world. Many of the younger women wore knee length flouncy colorful skirts, ultra-feminine tops, and chic heels. The color and style were very different from what you have pictured above. You can see pictures at acs.org. I talked to some of the other mid-career scientists, and apparently that is completely acceptable in their field. They don’t have the same issues we do in physics. It made me look forward to the day physics conferences have more female participants and we can be more colorful and feminine in our attire.

  2. […] of your clothing saying, “look at me!” Is it really such a bad thing? As I have said before, maybe your boobs shouldn’t say, “look at me!” but so what if you wear a sharp […]

  3. […] have had a number of posts about proper attire for certain parts of this job – for instance conferences and what not to wear. But, no matter how I dress there is one thing I cannot change – I […]

  4. […] speaking about science. And I also have given advice about what types of clothing to wear (here, here, for the men: here), and I typically say to error on the side of modest. There is also advice about […]

  5. […] more confusing for young men, as well. I have had a number of prior posts about clothes (here, here, here, here, here, here – OMG, that is so many!), but I really love this one!  Thank you […]

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