What to wear to the Conference

Why on earth should I choose to write about such a trivial aspect of the conference, when the three days were so choc-full of Really Important Goodies*? And when I say "the conference", I am referring to the ITA 2015 International Conference, which took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Jerusalem, 16-18 February.

Well, because people look at each other during the conference. Whether in the plenary hall, in any of the other, smaller halls; in the wide corridor where coffee and cake-cake-cake-and-more-cake are served; in the dining hall; in the queue for the loo; in the lobby, the elevator, the front desk, and so on. And because one of my fave colleagues, who couldn't make it to the conference, expressed the hope that "people are dressed well", it got me thinking. And looking.

Besides, as anyone who's followed my blogs knows, I'm forever agonizing over what to pack for various trips and occasions.

Short answer to the question in the title is: That depends on whether you're there as a speaker, a representative of a company, or as an ordinary, run-of-the-mill translator or other language-smith. The issue of how the "ordinary" translator (and I use that word as a cover-all for language-related occupations) dresses just happened to pop up on Agenda, [one of] the translators' forums on Facebook. It's a closed group, so I can't provide a link nor quote directly from it. But I can give you the gist:
Translators who work from home like to be as comfortable as possible. PJs are acceptable. An old sweatshirt and sweatpants are practically de rigueur. Slippers, Naot clogs, flip-flops (weather permitting); sneakers are nearly "elegant". Women forsake underwire bras and tight jeans. Men forsake -- what? I don't know, you tell me. We all feel as snug as a bug in a rug (remember -- it's winter as I write this). When, sooner or later, we must go out for something urgent like picking up the kids (or the grandkids, in my case) from nursery school or replenishing the coffee supply, we throw on something a bit more respectable and leave the house, hoping not to bump into an ex who used to think of us as smokin' hot.

Then along comes The Conference. Gosh, what shall I wear? For the Gala evening? For the workshops? For the lectures and other sessions? How much should I pack? I need to be color coordinated, that makes it easier to choose. The blue jeans will go fine with the striped shirt and/or the blue polka dot sweater. Which means I shouldn't bother with the pink/red items. But what about the new purple thingy? Nah, better not bother; it's a bit tight around the waist and I know I always eat too much at the conference. Shoes or boots? Boots are sexier, and add a much-needed inch to my stature (No, not Uggs). But shoes are more comfortable. Heels? Are you mad? Who wears high heels to a conference? - I'll tell you who: the speaker from France. High-heeled shoes complete with sexy black pantyhose, elegant skirt (!) and top. Whereas one of the best [Israeli] speakers I heard wore scruffy jeans and some nondescript pullover knit top. Why? Because that's what we're used to wearing. And how on earth can we be expected to concentrate on hours and hours of lectures if we're uncomfortably clad?

Years ago, before the first presentation I ever gave at an ITA conference, I called my friend Marion in L.A., a public-speaking coach. In addition to public-addressing tips, I asked her for dressing tips. Her advice was to wear clothes about one notch above what the audience would be wearing. Seemed very sensible to me. Though not feasible without going out and buying something smart. Which I did, at Dorin Frankfurt's -- but only at end-of-season prices.

Anyway, I just went through all the conference pics uploaded to the ITA page on Facebook. Three times at least. And I was happy to note that most people looked both happy and comfortable. Which is the main thing. I hope they didn't agonize too much over what-to-wear and what-to-pack. Who cares. It was great to see you all.


* The important goodies shall be dealt with in a separate post. Since I sat for 2 whole days taking notes, I might as well put them to good use!


Nachama said...

Major LOL, Nina! You hit several nails on the head!

Nina Rimon Davis said...

Thanks, Nachama :-)

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