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Dress code at conferences?

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  1. Mar 7, 2013 #1

    ktb

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    I'm going to be attending and presenting at my first large physics conference this spring. I'm trying to get my dad to help me buy a suit for the day I present. However, my dad (an experienced biochemist) refuses, not because of money, but because he claims "nobody ever wears suits to those things, especially physicists". Is this true? Or is he just incredibly unobservant/ pulling my leg (strong possibilities)?
     
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  3. Mar 7, 2013 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Undergrads wear suits.
    Grad students wear sport coats.
    Postdocs wear a nice shirt.
    Only Bigshots get away with looking like slobs.
     
  4. Mar 7, 2013 #3

    jtbell

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    What about non-bigshot faculty? :smile:
     
  5. Mar 7, 2013 #4

    StatGuy2000

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    I don't know about physics conferences, but I have attended numerous conferences for statistics and suits are more often the exception than the rule. "Business casual" (i.e. dress shirt, pants and shoes, no tie for men, dress shirt and pants or skirt for women) is most common, but I have seen people (including presenters) wear jeans and sneakers (so long as they are clean). And somehow I don't think statisticians are especially unusual in this regard.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  6. Mar 7, 2013 #5
    I attended my first conference recently (the JMM) and was surprised by the dress standard. I was expecting suits, etc. but, as others mentioned, it was actually the exception. I wore jeans, sneakers, and a nice button up shirt because that is the nicest thing that I have and can afford. I did not feel at all out of place, although I did expect to! Most all of the men seemed to be dressed in a polo-style shirt, pants, and rather normal shoes. But there were certainly people walking around in very casual wear.

    From this impression, you will be fine in business casual and a suit may be overkill.
     
  7. Mar 7, 2013 #6

    ktb

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    I plan on wearing a nice shirt and kakis when I'm not presenting and I assume that's fine. The reason I asked is because I'm presenting in a room with all undergrad presenters and I'd hate being the only one in a suit or vice versa.
     
  8. Mar 7, 2013 #7

    Choppy

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    At all conferences I've been to the dress is business casual. Presenters will often dress up a little more spiffy (i.e. a tie) than other attendies (i.e. no tie). One thing to keep in mind though is that conferences are where you do your networking. A casual conversation can turn into a job interview in a heartbeat, so naturally you want to avoid looking like a slob.

    Also, if you feel uncomfortable, you can always run back to your hotel room to change.
     
  9. Mar 7, 2013 #8

    Mute

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    If I'm not presenting, I typically wear my nicer black jeans and a nice-looking button-up shirt. If I am presenting, I always wear a suit with tie and dress shoes. As mentioned, this doesn't seem to be the norm, but I prefer to look snazzy when presenting. (I'm a grad student, though I don't intend on changing this behavior once I start my postdoc. "Intend" being the key word there).
     
  10. Mar 7, 2013 #9

    G01

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    My opinion is that business casual is the best bet for conferences. I usually will wear a grayish brown jacket, button down shirt and nice dark blue jeans. No tie obviously. (Academic casual, if you will)

    Honestly, You should wear clothes that you are comfortable in*. If a suit makes you confident and comfortable while presenting, then wear a suit. I feel like I stand out too much if I wear a suit and then throws me off, so I don't wear them when I present.

    *Within reason of course. Avoid the pajama or hobo look if your not tenured :http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?n=1446


    I doubt I'll even wear a suit to my thesis defense. (Depends on how confident I'll be with my thesis I guess... :rolleyes:)
     
  11. Mar 7, 2013 #10

    Astronuc

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    At professional conferences, I see a mix of formal (suit and tie) and business casual. I wear business casual, e.g., nice shirt and khakis, and if I present, I will were a jacket and tie. After the session in which I present ends, I'll remove the tie and put it in my jacket pocket.

    I see quite a few older gentlemen (senior scientists/managers) who wear suit and tie, and maybe a vest.

    If one is the only undergrad with a suit/jacket and tie, then that's fine. One will stand out as being more professional, and would more likely find the older folk more receptive. Also, one will be making a first impression to those who could potentially hire one in the future.
     
  12. Mar 7, 2013 #11

    Mute

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    That reminds me of the game "Prof or hobo?" :tongue2:
     
  13. Mar 7, 2013 #12
    Sport coats are my absolute favorite for conferences (and everywhere else ambiguously-casual). Too formal? Set it aside. Too casual? Keep it on. Working a sweat? Take it off. Getting chilly? Put it back on.

    As important as dress code is, I can verify that I've hardly ever remembered a researcher by what he wore, unless it was something way out of the norm. What many people forget at these conferences is that you can very well be an awkward speaker in a stunning suit, however brilliant your findings are. The inverse is also true.
     
  14. Mar 9, 2013 #13

    ktb

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    We bought a blazer and I'm planning on wearing it with a nice shirt and pants, probably a tie too. Thanks for all the help.
     
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