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Pack light for professional presentation?

Going on vacation for two and a half weeks in England & Scotland. Last part of trip I present at an international conference in my profession in Edinburgh. Typically, I’d wear hose, high heels, suit etc. How do I pack light for this situation. Where to shop? Thanks!

Posted by
381 posts

Don't depend on being able to find a professional outfit you like and that suits you during your trip! That is a disaster in the making and could be highly stressful even if it works out.

Posted by
16941 posts

Go ahead and pack a little heavier. It's allowed. We won't tell Rick.

Posted by
1179 posts

How formal is your industry?

Instead of going full suit I would go for a black skirt or pants and an unlined or knit jacket. It’s a lot lighter and more compact than a full suit.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

You could incorporate your separates into your capsule wardrobe and do laundry.. If you are nervous then keep the outfit separate and wrapped in plastic. You can add a scarf, some pearls, or a statement necklace as needed.

The key to multiple suit outfits is to keep one bottom and two light toppers. Add in two different colored shells and accessories and you have several outfits. A white blouse adds interest too. Wear it belted or tucked in.

My favorite combo is a black skirt with a black jacket. I bring a second knit jacket (mine is black/white houndstooth) or a light colored knit jacket. A black shell and white shell finish it.

Posted by
613 posts

Isn't this why we have the basic black dress? Dress in UK is more formal than USA. Don't buy clothes there. It's cut different and you will not feel comfortable in British garb. Study pictures of the Queen. You can skip the hats, but the pearls are a great accessory.

Take 2 suitcases & 3 suitable outfits. This is insurance. What if you have one suitcase & the airline loses it? What if a drunk dunks your outfit in cheese dip? Also, if you have a business dinner, change outfits.

Posted by
208 posts

Pack one extra bag with all the professional clothing/etc. you will need for your conference. And then leave it in a locker or similarly safe location in Edinburgh for the first part of your trip.

Posted by
11446 posts

Contact your hotel in Edinburgh--where you will be staying during your conference. Ask them if you can ship a package to them to be held for your arrival. If they say yes, and most hotels will, send your work clothes. This way you don't have to carry them around for the leisure part of your trip. Then, ship them home.

If you can keep the package under 5KG (11 lbs), Send My Bag will ship it round trip for 79 GBP ($100). You might be able to write it off as a business expense. I have used them and they are reliable.

Posted by
3789 posts

I'm with Cindy on the ability of packing with minimal investment (luggage and $$). You don't say how many days you need to dress for the presentation or time of year. Have you been to international conferences before and made note of how female presenters dressed? Can you get away with a good black dress? Knit jacket? Just plan to pack the hose and heels.

Posted by
10 posts

Wow! You guys rock! I can see that I wasn't very clear in my wording. I actually never considered shopping in Scotland for something to wear. That sounds really stressful. I meant, where can I find lightweight business clothes here in the US. Other details-I am at an international academic conference. I am presenting one day, and then I'll be attending sessions the other three days. In the states, women usually wear dresses, full suits or pantsuits. I doubt an international conference will be much different.

The locker idea sounds interesting. Where are these usually located? Airports?

Posted by
13213 posts

That Example 1 offered by Cindy H is a nice basic black blazer in a travel-friendly fabric. Just what I have been looking for, although I want long sleeves rather than 3/4. A pop-up with the link offered 25% off if I gave them my email address, so I did and got a nice price on a Jones blazer.

Thanks, Cindy H.

Posted by
3789 posts

A look at historical weather of Edinburgh for July shows a fair amount of rain (though little accumulation) and temps from high 50's to the occasional low 80's...most being high 60's low 70's. I would be liable to stick to trousers so I could get away with a lower heel - particularly if you need to walk outside for long or far. 2 packable jackets with washable shells. Couple of colourful scarves can be tucked untied around the neck but inside the jacket rather than a complicated bow. Streamlined and professional.
If you can fit the work wear in a tote that fits under the seat, but over your (I am assuming) wheeled carry on, then no worry about loss of luggage if both comply with carry on rules for your airline. No need to find lockers either. It all depends on what type of luggage you have and what amount/type of traveling you are doing. If you aren't in Edinburgh before your conference, then you may need to pack as if you have to drag it with you. This one is at least lightweight and waterproof

Posted by
1179 posts

BTW, I meant you should be able to do this all in a carry on. I used to travel with about 1/2 my carry on filled with test documents. The other half was clothing for my trip (including exercise stuff etc.). It’s quite possible to do this carry on only if you choose the right outfits.

I hope you noticed that my choices were machine washable.

I would wear one jacket on the plane and pack the other. Search for “packing a suit jacket” for how to fold.

Since you’re in education you may be able to wear a nice cardigan as a substitute topper on the days you aren’t presenting.

I also agree on the shorter heels. They will be more comfortable and are easier to pack.

I’d also look into a good looking packable rain trench for your trip. There’s some really nice ones out there that would work for both sides of the trip. Just make sure they have taped seams and are truly waterproof. The unlined jackets are lighter and far more packable.

Posted by
1179 posts

I meant, where can I find lightweight business clothes here in the US.

I’ve always had good luck with Dressbarn Jones Studio, although lately it hasn’t been as good. Also look at Macy’s and Ann Taylor Loft.

I’ve also found that the Portofino blouses from Express are nice and wrinkle proof but they are on the low cut side if you are busty. I usually wear a Uniqlo Airism tank under them.

I find that polyester blends are fairly resilient. Anything with spandex dries quicker and is more wrinkle resistant.

Posted by
4598 posts

I’ve purchased most of my business suits from Macy’s. You might also want to check the outlet stores and TJ Maxx, etc.

When I’ve needed to travel for work, teaching engineering & executive classes, I bring three pairs of pants to rotate and wash one each night. I bring polyester tops that are colorful and look nice if I remove my jacket. Or colorful scarves are an easy way to change the look of the same neutral blouse. Definitely lower heel shoes so they are more versatile.

Since you are presenting, think about what clothing would make you feel good about yourself. I always had favorite outfits or colors that I would pick when I was presenting or interviewing, etc. to give me that extra boost of confidence. ; )

Posted by
4598 posts

If you would rather wear dresses, I’ve had good luck at Macy’s, Dress Barn and even a few from Christopher & Banks. The polyester fabrics are nice for packing light and not needing to be ironed.

Posted by
3656 posts

where can I find lightweight business clothes here in the US.

Chicos. Lightweight, semi dressy to very dressy, very wrinkle proof, and can be hand washed and will dry overnight.

Posted by
6472 posts

TC has nailed it. If you need to see online option Travelsmith and Cold Water Creek have lovely options. Definitely not cheap but worth a look.

Posted by
52 posts

First, congratulations!

Second, Toad & Co has some good, simple packable, hard to wrinkle dresses that are good for the days you're not presenting (though maybe you have the right accessories you could make them work for presentation?) I live in these when I travel for work

Title 9 is also great, but you do have to pick through a lot of casual clothes to find an outfit that's conference appropriate.

I have a lined charcoal merino wool pencil skirt that I think I got at Macy's. It travels well and is very lightweight despite being wool, and I can steam what few wrinkles it gets out in a shower. I googled "merino wool skirt" and found quite a few similar skirts from Eileen Fischer, on Etsy, Zulily, Zappo's, and elsewhere. I wouldn't wear my skirt in, say, DC during July, but I think it will be fine in Edinburgh.

Good luck with the presentation!

Posted by
3428 posts

2 pair of dress pants (black, navy, khaki colored, or grey depending on your personal choice), 3 or 4 tops and several nice scarves with perhaps a blazer or cardigan. You can mix and match and the scarves help to make things look different. You could also layer 'dressy' material T-shirt style shells/tanks with long sleeved button up blouses that can be worn in place of a jacket/blazer or wear the shell over the blouse for another look. Take maybe one really dressy top. If you select well you should be able to get 6-10 (or more) outfits from this amount. I like the idea of shipping your 'professional' wardrobe over and back rather than carrying it around. OH- and I'd go with flats, not heels.

Posted by
187 posts

Have you looked at the Wearever collection from JJill? It has pieces that would be appropriate for your presentation as well as good travel pieces for the tour, etc. I have several pieces and find that are very comfortable and easy care plus pack very well. While I' m retired and also was a suit/heels/hose dresser while working as a professional, I would easily wear this collection now that dress codes have eased toward a more casual but polished look.