Packing for an Image Consultants Conference


Here is my challenge, I’m packing to fly to LA to attend the AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) annual conference.  What should I wear?

The dress code is:
Business attire is appropriate for daytime conference programs and evening events.
May temperatures range from an average high of 81ºF/27ºC to an average low of
54ºF/12ºC. Be sure to bring a wrap, as hotel meeting rooms can be chilly.
There is also a Gala Dinner where Red Carpet formal wear is expected.
So what do I bring?  What is LA businesswear and even US businesswear these days?  How would you interpret the dress code?
What colours should I choose?  Can I wear black, or is that a no-no in the OC?
The conference goes for 4 days – yes imagine the stress of having 500 other image consultants assessing you for your clothing choices!  4 daytime outfits required, plus 2 evening outfits (1 formal, 1 not).
I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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  • Actually, you shouldn’t worry about them assessing you at all, as they will all be much to worried about everyone else assessing their choices of clothing!
    Besides, what do they know about current Australian trends/fashion anyway.
    Hope you have a nice flight and a great time while you are there.

  • I have not really ever seen anyone in business attire here in LA other than when I went for an interview at St. John Knits, which was in OC. It was very conservative east coast style business attire with jackets and skirts only. I am sure that you would be fine in nice trousers and a button down with a blazer or something similar. Black is totally acceptable I went to the ballet the other day and that is about all I saw for evening. I would think that you will be fine in whatever you choose.

  • Well, there’s LA that has bleach-y light and is antithetical to East Coast/SF conservatism and there’s the conference that will have hotel lighting and is in that insular conference world that could be set down anywhere. Not everyone will be looking at you through LA eyes.

    You’re beautiful and fresh and well dressed and that’s already a lot different than many successful image consultants/stylists whose book and publicity photos would make you leery of taking their advice if you hadn’t seen their clients turn out well.

    I know you’ve said before that you had a different level of dress – more avant garde – that you could display at events like this, but why go there? Seems to me if you dress for a conference of, say, entrepreneurs, you ought to be fine. You’d know what to bring and you wouldn’t give in to self-consciousness. It’s the self-consciousness that would sink anyone so keep the focus on why you’re attending – what you hope to get out of it – and look for opportunities to put other people at ease.

  • I’m relatively out of my element answering this, seeing as I live in South Carolina in a beach community which is about as far from LA as you can get… and I probably need an image consultant! But when traveling I always like to take comfortable, well made clothes in black and other solids and then doll everything up with accessories. For some reason I keep imagining a classic white suit, then adding your own avant garde or personal touches… the ones that make you feel most yourself and least self conscious. Have fun! 🙂

  • I have to agree with Charlotte. They will all probably be feeling the same as you. Beside you always dress simple and chic. Timeless style 🙂

  • Blogs by other image consultants might be a source of information.

    And I agree with previous poster–I’ve seen pics of other image consultants and you are by far the best-dressed! You also offer the best and most-clearly-presented advice.

    I would go with the avant-garde for this. Have fun while you’re at it.

  • Imogen,

    LA Business Casual can mean anything from a skirt and non-matching jacket to dark wash jeans and a tee to a shift dress and a cardigan sweater. You don’t see as much black in OC as in West LA, but if you choose it you won’t stick out. Cardigan sweaters are perfectly acceptable in lieu of a jacket, and probably easier to pack. You’ll definitely want to bring items you can layer. What you don’t see is a level of dressiness (nylons, anything matchy-matchy, really “done” hair and makeup) that you might find in the South. Even going out to a nice restaurant, people don’t dress up that much (and sometimes are far too casual, IMO). I’m sure your instincts are fine. So Cal is known for lack of conformity, so wear what makes you feel most comfortable.

  • Pseu and Vldy have nailed it. If blac,, it is about fabric weight, I have a black box-pleated Max Mara silk skirt I’d wear to dinner, but would not wear heavier black fabric. Also, those conference centres can ber AC’s to death!

    It will be fun to read your report!

  • Wow, either I have not had enough coffee or can’t type; I meant to write, “those conference centres can be AC’d to death.”

  • Don’t sweat it! The midwesterners will all be in perfect suits with matching scarves and pumps, carefully selected jewelry that compliments their faces…

    You are young and gorgeous, so can be a bit more unbuttoned and all your own. Bring your avant garde stuff and wow ’em!

  • Be a bit rebellious and wear what makes you happy. That will show and you will be comfortable.

    If a black suit with some bright accessories makes you happy go for it.

    Everyone is right…you are beautiful enough that it won’t matter. You dress well and you have skills that outshine most of what I’ve seen.

  • Its fab to see so much great advise. I have attended AICI several times and the best advise I can give you is to wear whatever your version of summer business wear is. You will see everything there from the very dressed down to super glam and alot of average inbetween. Edgier, interesting and elegant all goes down well in my experience.The key point to remember is that to have a great time you want to meet other like minded consultants and the best way to do that is to dress like YOU!Have an awesome time.

  • Since I live in Chicago and am currently wearing a wool sweater….I recommend you not take advice from moi on dressing for the OC. But do have fun. I can’t imagine anything more crazy than hanging out with other image consultants. I used to be a “creative” brainstorm facilitator. When we did those conferences I found that only about 1/10th of the people really knew what they were doing and had something valuable to offer. Sounds harsh, but there it is. I can only hope this conference has 90% cool awesome people that you can learn from (although, honestly, you are the one they ought to be learning from…)

  • Charlotte Sometimes – oh they do assess – believe me!

    Cosmo – business wear varies from place to place – I think that the US is more conservative in general than Australia as far as corporate wear goes

    Vildy – thanks so much for the compliments (checks in the mail).

    Margo – don’t own a white suit! I’d get it dirty too quick! Be sure to drop my lunch on it the first day.

    Sher – yes I’m sure they are – but everyone still checks each other out (and has conversations with their friends about it).

    Frugal Scholar – Thanks – your check is in the mail too! I’m thinking I’m going to take a more avant-garde dress and skirt and jacket, then mix them with more classic pieces.

    Deja Pseu – thanks – no tights – got it (how about footless tights if it’s cold in the hotel?) I don’t do matchy match, so I ‘ll be OK there!

    Duchesse – hope the caffeine has kicked in! Yes – expecting too much AC (like they do in Queensland here, which has weather much like LA I think). Have jackets and cardis and even a pashmina just in case I’m cold.

    Karen – you crack me up! Lucky I’m not from the mid-west, I think I’d be bored to death by my clothes (15 years ago I happily wore all the classic clothes, I just can’t bring myself to anymore, it feels stifled on me). So what are you wearing?

    Modest Mum – I can only wear what’s in my wardrobe -and those clothes do make me happy, just interested in what you’d all think the expectations would be. I’m going creative!

    Imagegirl – thanks for commenting – good to find someone who has experience – today I’m trying on my outfits and making sure they all work, I’m also coming for a 3 week holiday, so it all has to work in with my overall travel wardrobe too!

    Trish – I love Chicago! I’m looking forward to meeting up with some great new contacts (like Karen who is coming), and a few of the image legends, reconnecting with people I’ve met before who I like, and meeting some great new like minded people.

  • I live in OC and have gone to conferences (but in a more conservative field). The people who wear black around this time of year are usually sales reps or mall employees. Dressing is definitely more casual around here. I think it’s funny that people are really casual about their clothes and walk around with super trendy designer bags.


  • Phoebe – the hard thing about packing for travel, is that it all needs to work together – I’ve got 3 weeks in SoCal, the conference is 4 days, I need to mix and match easily, which is why I’m leaning toward black as that is a neutral that I have lots in!

  • Imogen, as long as you’re not in head-to-toe black with no other colors, you probably will not be mistaken for a mall employee.

    If you have a little white t- shirt or two or some other color accents, you’ll be fine.

  • No advice here (plenty of it above) – just wanted to say I hope you enjoy your trip. I’m jealous you won’t be on the East Coast, though – I’d drive to Boston in a New York minute if you went there, and I’d probably trek to NYC in a…(well, I’m not sure what the appropriate time interval is, but you get my point…).

    Have fun! Can’t wait to hear all about it. 🙂

  • Imogen, my impression of the image consultants I have worked with is they are not all that well dressed; as a group I found them on the bland side. Kind of like your hairdresser does not have time to get the perfect cut. I’m sure you will wow them!

  • I couldn’t possibly add advice — you have such a savvy crowd of commenters, don’t you! but I do want to comment on how amusing and reassuring I find it that you approach packing for conferences with as much apprehension as the rest of us (and understandably, really, when your conference mates are image consultants!). I’ve been trying to get my travel wardrobe for next month planned to include two conferences and I’m trying to avoid going all-black, but it’s tough! Thank goodness for accessories.

  • Duchesse – some are definitely better than others from my experience in Australia.

    Mater – I just feel like it’s my reputation on the line – does she really know what she’s doing – that kind of thing. I’m as bad as the next person on the ‘what’ll I wear’ stakes!

  • Since you are an image gal, I would wear colour. Have a great time, can’t wait to here what you get out of it!

  • Somewhat reassuring to learn that you fret as much as anyone when it comes to “what should I wear?”!
    No advice to offer, other than to say that I think you’re stunning, and to wish you all the best for a great holiday/conference!

    Having said that I don’t have any advice – I really love the idea of you dressing to display your creative, avant-garde side!Be yourself -you’re fabulous, and everyone is entitled to know it!If image consultancy is all about helping people dress to show the world their true self -then that’s exactly what you should do!

  • Imogen, have a great time and don’t worry what people think – they will be too worried about what others are thinking of them! Ha!

  • It’s kind of amazing to hear that many image consultants don’t dress well! Who would ever hire them?

    Since there will be many people from all over the country (and world?) I imagine most will wear clothing that reflects their climate and culture. Be yourself! (How’s that for a mundane suggestion?)

    I live in LA but grew up in New York, and have never really adjusted. (It’s only been 25 years – I’m a slow learner.) The weather really plays a big part in how people dress here. The sun can be quite strong, but there is seldom humidity, so you usually want lighter fabrics. But as for style – anything goes.

    I’ve worked around both corporate types and creative types, and the one thing I notice is that most women who achieve a certain level of success buy good quality fabrics. Nice blazers, pants that fit and have great drape. The styles are all over the place, but the woman who impress me the most usually have better quality clothing.

    There are also a lot of incredibly beautiful young women (actress/model/whatever) who wear cheap and very trendy, but they’re young and beautiful and it doesn’t matter what they wear. They look great, with their long blond hair and perfect skin. There’s a LOT of them out here. It can be depressing for us mortals.

    But the women I admire usually impress me because they’re confident in their own style. And I am certain that describes you! (I can’t wait to meet you, by the way. Sorry this is a bit rambling – I can’t believe I’m even trying to give advice to you.)

  • Maria – there will be some colour!

    Jamtart – It’s harder as an Image Consultant to dress – you’re always on display!

    Tara – thanks – can’t wait to meet you either!

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