How To Dress for a Trade Show

A trade show is an excellent opportunity to meet prospective clients and promote your business products and services. Make sure you dress for success to improve your chances of sealing the deal at a trade show. Here's what you should wear at trade shows.

Step 1

Wear the right shoes. You can't sell a million dollar product wearing sneakers. So when you're dressing for trade shows, invest in a nice pair of leather shoes. Polish them up before the big show and make sure that they're not too flashy. (And please, don't match dark leather shoes with white socks! They must be dark socks, period.)

Step 2

Keep accessories to a minimum. For women, a few accessories are okay at trade shows. But stay away from anything bulky or gaudy as this may distract potential clients. Leave your pearls and diamonds at home and opt for smaller pieces of jewelry. For men, a belt buckle shouldn't be the star of a trade show, so stick with something simple and small. (No, your favorite bull-shaped buckle is not okay for the trade show!)

Step 3

Stay away from blue jeans. This may go without saying, but it is not acceptable to wear blue jeans at a trade show. They are just not professional enough. Your attire must reflect the reputation of the company you are presenting, so dress in higher-quality clothes. Opt for khaki pants or polyester slacks over jeans, and choose dress shirts over t-shirts.

Step 4

Exceed the minimum dress code. Basically, trade shows require that you exceed what is acceptable in a regular office environment in terms of your wardrobe. Though your colleagues may say that casual pants and a t-shirt with the business logo on it will be okay for the trade show, aim for a more professional look. Wear a long-sleeved button down shirt, and bring a jacket that matches your suit pants. Business casual is the absolutely minimum that is acceptable at trade shows.

Step 5

Top off the look with a name tag. Complete your professional trade show look with a custom name tag. Invest in a permanent name tag that you can have with you at subsequent trade shows. It beats the "Hello, my name is __________" sticker name tag, hands down. Trade show goers will feel more comfortable to approach you with questions about your products and services if they know your name. Don't forget this important accessory.

Step 6

Understand that you're not at the office. Although it may be okay to wear casual attire at the office, once you enter a trade show environment, the rules change. You must look professional and presentable at all times at a trade show. So iron your clothes, make sure you've got a fresh haircut and don't smoke or drink before the trade show. You want to look (and smell) your best at trade shows.


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