The Suit Economy at #HRTechConf

I’ve never understood why people continue to wear suits to the HR Technology Conference. Every year that I attend I still let it amaze me that people actually walk around the Mandalay Bay all day in a three or four piece suit. The problem with the drab black or grey suit for an attendee is that you come to this conference to learn and generally purchase a product. You’re either in control as an attendee or as a vendor you’re looking to be approachable and build relationships. You don’t need a three piece to do that.

I firmly believe that in the next 5 years you’re going to see a shift in how interactions and conversations are had during the HR Technology Conference. Once a newer generation funnels into the maddness (albeit fun) of scheduling briefs, meeting with vendors, and developing an overall sense of the conference — the way interactions happen are going to be dramatically different. I believe it’ll start with the outfit.

Why vendors should never wear a suit at #HRTechConf

Suits make you less approachable.

Last night when the Expo Hall opened a few people and myself walked around and 9 out of the 10 booths that we stopped at were people that weren’t wearing suits. As a vendor your end goal is to build the connection at the conference and sell to whomever you talk to afterwards. Wearing a nice button up and slacks makes you 100 times more approachable in my opinion. When I’m walking around the floor wanting to meet and greet new vendors i’m going to pick someone that isn’t wearing a suit because it implies they’re there for casual conversation and not an on-the-spot pitch.

Corporate stuffy-ness has no room in Las Vegas.

First off, it’s hot. No one wants to walk around Vegas all day in a three piece suit, at least I don’t. We’ve clearly seen a shift in corporate culture over the last 5-10 years where companies are becoming a little more flexible when it comes dress policies. They’re more focused on the results instead of what you look like (to an extent, of course) in getting those results. I think in Vegas it’s important to not only dress the part, but let go of your corporate mindset. Las Vegas is the time where the inner HR-party lady comes out and for three days she’s wanting to get out of her skin and that pant suit.

Why attendees should never wear a suit at #HRTechConf

You’re in control.

The HR Technology Conference puts the buyer in control. As an attendee of this conference you’re most likely here to demo or purchase a product for your company. My philosophy is be comfortable and walk in like you own the place. I attend most conferences in shorts or jeans, sometimes a vneck, but most of the time I try and dress a little up, but I would never wear a suit or a jacket. As a blogger people flock because they want to talk about their product in hopes we write about them. Let loose, have a little fun and know at this conference you’re in the driver’s seat.

It’s Vegas!

Need I say more? If you’re not staying at the Mandalay Bay and have to walk out in the humidity for even a few minutes, you’ll die. No one wants to sweat stains while wearing a polyester suit. It’s suffocating and it’s not fun. Put a nice pair of pants and a dress shirt (or skirt and a blouse) and rock it.

I challenge everyone who reads this to tweet and tell their friends to stop wearing suits at conferences like these. It’s uncessary and hopefully next year (or maybe even tomorrow, we can dream!) we’ll be a little less dressy and a little more fun!

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. torin says


    I’m a huge fan of tee shirts and jeans. However, I applaud a well dressed man/woman and really appreciate one that does such with style. To question why one is well dressed is interesting.

    I see it differently. A person behind a table with a well assembled outfit is one that I’d readily approach – perhaps faster than one in a corporate button down and dress slacks. I’ve NEVER found that outfit fitting or inviting.

    Face it, a shirt ordered by your company Manager has never arrived in nice packaging with tailored measurements. Now I do agree, the polyester option might be a problem.


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