What To Wear At ACRL

Sometimes we get interesting tips here at ACRLog. Seems like there is a bit of tweeting going on among first-timers headed to Seattle for ACRL who have a bit of a dilemma. What should people wear to ACRL? Quite a few of the first-time attendees are new or soon-to-be LIS program graduates who are thinking job opportunity. So they need the help of you more experienced academic librarians. What advice would you give to these colleagues? They want to dress to impress, but is it necessary to go all the way and wear the full-out business suit? Or will business casual get the job done? Are jeans, even stylish ones, out of the question? And what about piercings and tattoos? Display them proudly or be thinking “cover it up”?

Personally, I’m going with business casual and that’s what I recommend. I think of ACRL as a business-oriented program, so business casual seems most appropriate. I think we should avoid suits (and definitely no ties!). I don’t have a problem with those who want to dress down a bit, but I’d encourage those who want to make a good first impression to avoid jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. So what do others think – and we need your suggestions fast. Those suitcases have to be packed and ready to roll in less than 48 hours. Someone out there is counting on your advice so share it in a comment.

16 thoughts on “What To Wear At ACRL”

  1. I concur with Steven – business casual is the most appropriate. If you see someone in a suit, it’s probably because they’re presenting. (Even then…) I disagree a bit with the jeans thing – I think a nice dark jean with a t-shirt and a blazer is a nice business casual look. You just want to avoid the college student/just-got- out-of-bed/can’t-be-bothered-to-dress-nicely look.

    The best advice? Layers. If you have a scarf or pashmina, bring one. The rooms can be overly warm or cool, and being able to add or shed layers as needed will be welcome.

  2. Skip the cat sweatshirt! 😉

    Yeah, you want to look nice, but comfortable, too — these are long days.

  3. When I told my colleague that I need to to take my skirt suit to the cleaners as I am going to ACRL, she said, I don’t have to take it at all, as no one will be wearing suits 🙂 So i listened to her and packed couple of warm blazers and a denim jacket. Pretty professional and comfortable.

  4. I would have to agree–business casual is best. My husband, also a librarian, decided to wear a suit to a library conference a few years back and everyone thought he was an exhibit vendor!

    I’m planning on nice slacks and jeans, a black blazer, nice sweater and a couple of turtlenecks. Seattle is on the West coast, where everyday is business casual in the working world. I think it is that way everywhere now, yes?

  5. I made the mistake of wearing a suit to a conference when I was job-hunting. I stood out like a sore thumb! Business-casual is fine. Good walking shoes are a must.

    As for tattoos/piercings, if you are job-hunting I would cover up. My tattoos were no problem when I worked in Boston, but they won’t fly in rural NC. In these times of economic turmoil, I think it is wise to be open a wide variety of library jobs, including jobs in less tattoo-tolerant communities.

  6. I think it’s easy for grad students to under dress for these things as they may not have a professional wardrobe. For these folks, business casual *may* feel like being pretty dressed up.

    So, for women: dressy slacks and a nice sweater or blouse, plus decent, comfortable shoes (choose comfortable over cute! or pack the cute ones to put on just when you need them).

    For men: dressy slacks are better than khakis.

    People won’t be out of place in suits, even if most people aren’t wearing them. Younger folks, or those who look young, may want to wear a suit to help them look more mature.

  7. Why should it matter what they wear? Should there skills not be placed above their clothing. At interviews I always wear what I normally ware.

  8. Make sure whatever you’re carrying (purse, tote, laptop) is comfortable and not too grungy. And for women – make sure you have pockets!

  9. This is a very timely posting, so thank you. I’m a first time attendee, and I plan on wearing black/gray slacks, and button down shirts. I also plan on wearing comfortable-but-not-too casual lace up shoes (I wouldn’t call them sneakers).

  10. Be yourself – Make your own choices – I’m ever so happy to see piercings and tattoos when at library conferences. They tend to be beautiful and interesting. And, they give me hope for our collective professional future.

  11. I can always tell when I’m nearing any library conference by the droves of people in sensible shoes. 😉

  12. Nice jeans are okay, sport coat or sweater.
    I’m presenting so I’ll wear a suit on one day.

  13. Yes, be comfortable; but, whatever you decide to wear, don’t look like you slept in your clothes or hiked in your shoes. Whether it’s a t-shirt or a button-down shirt, or jeans or dress pants, make sure they’re clean and ironed. Whether they’re sneakers or wing-tips, make sure they’re scuff free and polished. Even if you wear the same shirt, pants and shoes the entire conference (because you’re broke and you can’t afford new “good clothes” until you get that “real library job”), wear it like it’s the best darn thing you could ever own.

  14. I tend to wear business casual, or at least something a step dressier than typical at-home jeans. It depends on the weather of the location too. I have no issues with running shoes or something similar, even with a suit. I have been known to wear nice, neat jeans with a sweater set, especially on the last day of a conference if I’m flying out later. ALWAYS wear comfortable shoes, even if they look goofy with what you are wearing, especially at big conferences. Everyone will understand, trust me. If you are job hunting, even informally, keep yourself presentable and be ready with a resume tucked in a portfolio–you just never know who you will meet.

  15. Absolutely the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard, sartorial or otherwise:

    It’s always better to be over- than underdressed.

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