July 13, 2012

What To Wear To A Music Industry Conference

What to wear tends to be one the most popular topics on this site. Probably because it can tough for interns and other newcomers to determine what to wear in an industry that's a mix between business, casual, and countless musical subcultures. How do you look professional but still fit in when it comes to attending a conference or other professional event? To be honest, the answer really depends because some events are more formal than others and may include awards dinners or walks down the red carpet (no, I'm not kidding). Today, we'll take a look at what to wear to your average music industry conference or professional event and will get into some more specific examples in the future.

Joe Mabel [GFDLCC-BY-SA-3.0  or CC-BY-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

Music Industry Dress
There is a certain outfit many often joke is the unofficial "music industry uniform." It consists of business-casual style shoes (such as loafers for men or flats for women), jeans, a stylish shirt or even a t-shirt, and a blazer. This is the outfit you will most commonly see worn any just about any music event from a convention to an industry showcase. It is also the quintessential example of what the "music industry dress code" involves. It is some unique hybrid of casual, trendy, and business casual to create a style that is rather unique to the music world.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when putting together your own outfit:

  • You will find an array of formality at the event ranging from Chuck Taylors, Jeans, and a t-shirt to a more formal business wear. Anything in between is usually fair game including combinations that may not be acceptable anywhere else. For instance, it is not uncommon to see the iconic Converse shoes paired with a dress pants, a suit jacket, and a t-shirt. For ladies, you may see heels with jeans and a nice, stylish top. 
  • Styles vary by region and music genre. For instance, punk-focused events will feature a different style of dress from those focused on DJs and club music. 
  • Black is a pretty popular color choice, especially in New York.
  • Don't be afraid to show a bit of your personality, the music industry may be a business but it is one based on creativity. 
  • You usually can't go wrong with dark jeans paired with a nice shirt and shoes. 
  • If you're not sure what to wear, you can't go wrong by dressing slightly more formally than you think the event calls for. 
  • If you do decide to dress formally don't forget the details. Bright white socks still look strange with dress shoes even if you wear those dress shoes with jeans. 
  • Ladies (and men in some cases), conferences and networking events are still about professionalism so while it is OK to be somewhat creative, keep your hair, makeup, and jewelry fairly simple. You aren't that likely to be judged for interesting makeup, pink streaks in your hair, or tattoos and piercings, but channeling Lady Gaga's makeup style isn't the way to go right now either. 
  • Wear something comfortable. You will likely be spending a lot of time sitting listening to panels or standing talking to people.
Do you have any tips or suggestions to add? What is your go-to attire for a music industry conference?
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