Conference attire for Phoenix, AZ in May
February 5, 2018 7:23 AM   Subscribe

I'll be attending a conference in Phoenix in early May. I'm not specifically worried about the actual conference program as I expect a typically over air conditioned hotel & convention center, but rather the adjacent events.

I'm at a good point where I need to refresh my wardrobe anyway due to running-related weight loss and I'm not really sure what to look at for this conference. It's the first week in May and while I assume my typical work attire for NYC will be OK for the daytime program, there are indoor/outdoor evening events and one of the pre-conference events is a day trip to the Museum of Northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon.

Aside from heat related dress, is Phoenix any more or less dressy than LA where I've also attended a similar professional conference? I don't typically care for dresses, but I might make an exception if you think it would make more sense for one of the two evening events.

Any suggestions on stores / styles to look at? I'm 5'2 and a US size 8-10. Slightly hippy. This was this summer and I'm down about 10 lbs since, but the same general shape. Kohls used to be my go-to, but I've found I don't like their styles this year as much as the past. On my plans to check out: Chico's, J. Jill's, Macy's.

I'm also completely at a loss for what to wear for the day trip to the Grand Canyon to be both "professional" but dressed for light hiking in the Canyon. Would light weight khaki's and a "dressy" tee be OK for this? I'm OK on the how to handle heat angle as I've done Vegas and Israel in summer

Thanks all!
posted by TravellingCari to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you flying to the Grand Canyon? Because it's like a four+ hour drive from Phoenix up there and more what we all here consider a weekend trip, not a day trip. Either way, the GC is going to be a good 20 degrees cooler than the Phoenix area, (so between 70-85 degrees probably) so khaki's (or cargo pants, pockets!) are perfect. Did the conference specify that clothing should be "professional" for the GC trip? That seems actively counter productive to experiencing what the area has to offer on a "light hiking" trip. As for a shirt, I'd probably wear a nice, sturdy polo of some sort. I like to joke that all the plants in AZ have thorns, and are actively out for blood. That means I don't head out into anything like wilderness without some sort of decent weight cloth between me and the flora/fauna.

What you'll really need are good shoes. Hiking boots preferably, something with a good gripping sole and thick uppers. Because chances of a snake or scorpion encounter are super low but not zero percent. And a hat, and sunscreen as I'm sure you're aware from Vegas and Israel =)

I would say that in summer Phoenix proper is pretty relaxed attire-wise. It's super hot, expecting people to walk around in business clothing is actively harmful if they're not used to the heat, and I assume the people holding the conference would like to avoid guests dropping like flies from heatstroke.

And while normally in May you'd be looking at mid-90 degrees, last year was super hot and I think this year is going to be more of the same. I would not be shocked at all if it was already regularly getting up over 100 degrees during the day. If the evening events are being held in outdoor courtyards, the concrete jungle will end up radiating that heat far into the night. Light and loose clothing, like linen pants, or mid-length loose skirts are great. Sleeveless dress blouses in similar light fabrics should be totally fine, as long as the collar or strap area is thick enough to cover up any possible bra strap slippage. Dressy flat sandals instead of heels are pretty much par for the course.

These suggestions are all based on my experience on what people actually wear here. If the majority of the participants are from places that aren't remotely like Phoenix in summer, and they haven't been here before...then I would expect you'll be chatting with a lot of sweaty, uncomfortable people.

I haven't really done much shopping lately for myself so I don't have any current store recommendations, sorry. =/
posted by sharp pointy objects at 10:35 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Are you flying to the Grand Canyon? Because it's like a four+ hour drive from Phoenix up there and more what we all here consider a weekend trip, not a day trip.

I'm honestly not sure. Just booked it as add on, but we don't yet have details other than it's 7a-10p day. I'll check with the organizer. Thanks for the heads up on that, and all the other tips, especially re: shoes. I think the ones I used at Mesa Verde and Badlands should work, hopefully.

Attire is listed as business throughout. I'll ask them to clarify re: Canyon attire when I ask re: flight/drive.
posted by TravellingCari at 1:32 PM on February 5, 2018

I attended a conference in Phoenix at the end of March/beginning of April last year. This is the guidance we got from the local conference committee:

Arizona has one of the most casual dress codes due to the climate. Between April and September, nobody wears suiting unless they have to. Women don’t wear hosiery but leggings are typical. Layers are merely optional after dark. A wide-brimmed hat is crucial. Shorts are perfectly acceptable for both men and women. Protect your eyes with sunglasses. Pack sunscreen and carry it on you. If you are fair-skinned, wear light sleeves and a wide brim is essential. The most important accessory of all is a water bottle. Do not attempt any excursion without it. We’ll provide water for you on the bus, just don’t leave it behind. For that reason, a sling, tote or manpurse is handy.

Arizona has its own special brands of evening attire called Arizona Cocktail Casual or Resort Casual. Very few restaurants will turn you away for dress. This time of year, chinos and short sleeves with buttons anywhere are fine for men. Quality sportswear is also appropriate. Capris, skirts or dressed up jeans are fine for women. Athleisure wear is also mainstreaming, so if you have it, bring it. Designers of all stripes in Phoenix do tend to wear lots of black (despite the heat) and mostly with jeans. If you are attending any of the evening events wear sensible shoes. Keep your eye on the evening temps. Guests prone to chill might want to carry a light layer, but given recent weather trends this is highly unlikely.
Above all have fun, and remember that Arizona is a very non-judgmental state when it comes to fashion. You will rarely be underdressed.

posted by Preserver at 7:01 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Conference was amazing. I ended up wearing work clothes - black slacks, poly blend tops from Kohls (Dana Buchman, Apt 9) by day and got two dresses: Annalee & Hope from TJ Maxx and they were perfect for the evening events with flat sandals.
Grand Canyon (insane road trip, but so worth it) I ended up going casual: Khakis, t-shirt (carried but didn't need extra with long sleeves) and sneakers. Some people dressed up, but I wasn't out of place. Thanks all!
posted by TravellingCari at 9:45 AM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

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