Fashionistas and fashionistos alike flock to Austin, Texas each year for the increasingly popular South by Southwest conference. A 10-day event intended to showcase the year’s leading technology innovations, start-up businesses, and the best damn music around, SXSW transcended the entertainment world to become one of the greatest events for street fashion. But with Austin’s particular weather—hot, humid, sometimes foggy—and ulterior motives—you know, actually seeing some live shows—looking your best can be a challenge. Follow these tips to put your best foot forward—in style and in business—when heading off to SXSW this week.
1. Floppy sun hat – Hailing from the North East, where winter interrupts the loveliest of March days, I was wildly unprepared for the weather Austin delivers. It’s hot, it’s sunny, and when it’s hot and sunny my pale complexion tends to fry to a crisp with or without sun block. For this reason, I made sure to bring an oversized floppy hat—one that touches the back of my neck and shades my face but ultimately looks ultra chic with any outfit. It’s a great accessory to keep the sun off your face while making your outfit pop.
2. Sun block – While I wholeheartedly promote wearing a hat at SXSW, it won’t shield your entire body. And though sunscreen can be sticky and goopy, it’s a necessary part of protecting yourself under the mid-March Austin sun. With temperatures reaching up to 80 degrees this week, the long hours spent from venue to venue can offer a lot of sun exposure. Lather up before heading out and consider bringing along a small, travel-sized sunscreen bottle. Networking is an integral part of the event, and nothing’s worse than being distracted in a conversation by some painful burns. SXSW may only be a 10-day event, but your skin is yours forever.
3. Business cards – You may look your best, but will that business executive who complimented you on your shoes remember your name after you walk away? Chances are [s]he won’t, so make sure you leave a lasting impression by taking along some business cards. Make them as fun and punchy as you are, letting your on-point sense of style carry over into your business card design. By seamlessly creating a physical extension of yourself, you can be sure your networking won’t be for naught. Instead of being remembered as “the person with the shoes,” your new connection will have a name—and email, phone number, and address—to put with your impeccable style.
4. Good walking shoes – It was hard to resist packing all the wedges and heeled booties I own before jetting off to Austin, but a suggestion from a friend stopped me in my tracks. “Bring good walking shoes,” she said as I begrudgingly removed heel after heel. “Do you really think you’re making a good impression when you alternate between limping and switching out Band-Aids?” For this reason, pack at least one pair of comfortable shoes—whether sandals, sneakers, or moccasins—in addition to your favorite heels. While the nightlife will allow you to show off your shoes comfortably, the long days of SXSW events won’t. Trust me—your feet will thank you.
5. Disposable cameras – Though at its core SXSW is a technology convention, kicking it old school with a disposable camera is a great way to make lasting memories without the bulk of or the protection for a high-powered DSLR. Instead of lugging around a digital camera, tuck away a film one in your pocket or tote. Without a digital camera strapped across your body, it’s easier to get from place to place without worrying about protecting your accessory. Snap away and be surprised with what you come up with after you develop the film—your keepsakes will become your way of showing, not just telling, your SXSW adventure to friends back home.