2. Plan your wardrobe for uncomfortable conditions.
You have two choices of convention habitats.
Either too hot or too cold, with the additional options of too humid or too dry. The larger the venue, the more difficult it is to have any sort of control over the temperature. It may also vary widely over the course of the day. Often large exhibit halls are chilly early in the morning and stifling at the height of the day. You need to plan your clothing to deal with these conditions. Otherwise, you’re going to be distracted at best or miserable at worst.
Obviously, your clothing choices depend on what you like to wear, but there are some basic guidelines you can use to choose your wardrobe.
Layers are always a good idea. You should also keep in mind the possibility of mishaps and wear fabrics that can be cleaned easily.
I found a few tissue-weight long-sleeved T-shirts that I can layer under other shirts to keep warm without being bulky. If you get warm, you can remove one of the shirts easily without having to go back to the room to change. In warmer weather, a tank top or camisole under a button down shirt gives you similar options.
Also, a light jacket or hoodie that zips or buttons up is a great thing to have. It’s important that you can open it up to help control how warm or cool you are. You may end up taking it off or putting it on several times a day.
If you wear skirts, you can layer tights or leggings underneath to help control temperature. Unless you’re absolutely certain the event will be very warm, shorts alone rarely work well.
For socks, I recommend Smartwool. I hate socks, but I love wearing these. They are never too warm or too cool, they don’t itch or smell even if you wear them all day, and I never get blisters while wearing them no matter how much walking I do. They’re very lightweight and a lot of people who are theoretically allergic to wool find that they can still wear them.
You will probably spend part of your day standing on concrete, so you also need to wear comfortable shoes. You want something with good support and padding, but also try to find something lightweight. Clunky shoes can get uncomfortable at the end of a long day. I’ve had good results with Skechers Go Walk. They are well padded, but extremely lightweight-3 oz. They run small, so order a half-size up if you aren’t buying them in person.
If you are going to cosplay, make sure that it doesn’t interfere with your business. Make sure that you can move around easily, stay a comfortable temperature, and that you don’t have any accessories or body paint, etc. to monitor carefully. While you’re distracted by your costume, someone could be shoplifting from your table. Cosplay that functions like normal clothing is a better choice than elaborate creations that require special care. Also, if you think you’re going to be distracted a lot by having your picture taken, make sure you have a table buddy to manage sales. Alternately, consider wearing your cosplay when you’re not at the table.
It’s easy to forget because most venues are inside but if there is any possibility of rain make sure to pack a lightweight poncho or an umbrella. You certainly won’t be comfortable if you get drenched when you have to run out for a moment or on the way to load or unload. I like ponchos because they allow you to keep your hands free and can cover your bags. They can also serve as a tarp for your supplies in a pinch. I keep a plastic poncho in my art supply bag at all times so I can’t forget it.
If you attend outdoor events in hot weather, loose-fitting linen and seersucker clothes are a good investment. It may seem counterintuitive, but long pants and shirts in those fabrics can be much cooler than standard cotton t-shirts and shorts. They also help ward off sunburn, which is quite easy to suffer when you’re in one place for hours, even on an overcast day. Hats are a good investment. Outdoor Research is a good brand to try in terms of quality vs. price. I have a baseball cap with a folding brim that fits in a pocket that I take everywhere in the summer.
Keep in mind that light surfaces, even concrete sidewalks, are reflective, and put sunscreen on everywhere. I got a spectacular sunburn on a cool day sketching on the Shore Path in Bar Harbor, Maine. The path is paved in light-colored gravel, so my hat didn’t protect my face, and I forgot to put on sunscreen. Never do that. There is nothing quite so special as sunburn on the underside of your chin, nose and ears.
And please, for the sake of everyone, pack enough clothes and toiletries to shower and change every day of the convention. You’ll feel better and it helps ward off con plague. “Got soap?” isn’t just a slogan—it’s a necessity.
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