I wasn’t sure to what to expect sartorially from Alt…I mean, I was expecting some of the most creative people so I was expecting some pretty creative outfits. Not disappointed on that front. If you’ve been following for awhile, you probably know I have a pretty classic and largely predictable style: you’ll rarely see me without a white oxford on, a classic trench, and when I splash out, it’s on big necklaces for my oomph. At the end of the day, I work a corporate gig, formerly in Vienna and now in DC, but it’s also my personal style, and it works for me. The biggest takeaway from Alt is that you should be yourself. But if yourself really wants to be a bit more adventurous, a bit more colorful, a bit more creative…then you don’t have to hide that at Alt.
Here is a quick list of things that people regularly used to bump it up a notch at Alt. 2013 will bring a whole new set of trends, but this is what I learned from this year’s picks.
1. White tutus: The much talked about “Diner en Blanc” brought out lots of creativity for white outfits and tutus were front and center several times. Actually, I’ve made tutus several times for assorted costumes in the past, but I should have known that at Alt, the tutu is not a costume, it’s a serious fashion piece. If you’re on the fence about something creative to bring, just bring it. You’ll be at home here.
2. Colored denim: Have you gotten the recent J.Crew catalog and wondered in what world do people wear jeans of one primary color paired with a striped top of another opposite primary color? In this world. Generally, you can’t go wrong with color at Alt.
3. Polka Dots: Same with patterns, you can’t go wrong with that – base layer, over layer…any layer. Polka dots were a winner this year, but so was leopard, cheetah, plaid, and the classic mariniere stripe. And don’t be afraid of wearing two patterns at once. And why not three?
4. Enthusiasm and a positive spirit: Naturally I didn’t forget to pack mine but I probably should have been less shy about expressing it. “I have found my people!” or “This is my tribe!” were popular phrases but simply throwing around “Awesome!” or “Amazing!” will do just fine. Ironically, many of my European friends make fun of me for using the word “Awesome” too much, but I don’t think they really know what too much is.
5. Boots: I brought these but should have brought more. Wearing my “I pack like a business person and never pack more than I can carry myself” hat (rules to live by normally), I packed one pair of my beloved and practical brown leather boots that went with everything. But don’t hesitate to give yourself options – on the fence about bringing this or that? This is one event where you can bring both. You’re going to have to check luggage anyway.
6. Business Cards: Again, something that I had but what I should have brought was a card case or little receptacle of some kind for the mass collection I would accumulate. Trading cards at Alt carries an intensity similar to trading Dungeons and Dragons cards in those high school angst movies, and each card is a little piece of artwork on to itself. People have done some amazing things. Note to self for next year: add Twitter handle to card (mine were printed before I had one – @thenewdiplomats).
7. Glasses: The bigger the better seemed to reign queen here (wonder if next year people will go opposite), with Warby Parker as the King. In a few cases, I wish people wouldn’t obscure their loveliness with such huge frames, but nonetheless, if you are a glasses wearer, don’t bring your contacts to Alt. Also, if you actually need glasses, you’ll probably see the presentations on screen better with them.
8. Your iphone: Duh. It doubles as a functional tool (tweets! stats! information superhighway!) but also something to hide behind when you’re feeling a bit intimidated. I had mine but for next year, I definitely need a new case.
9. Bright tights: Colors…patterns…different colors for different outfits – just because you can’t get away with them in your day job, doesn’t mean you can’t wear them to Alt. And for those that might be a little shy with color and aren’t quite ready to jump in, pair a softer color or pattern with a black dress to get your toes in the water.
10. Sequined or beaded tops: Sequins are never out of place at Alt. At any time of the day. What goes better with oatmeal in a hotel lobby at 7 am on a Thursday than sequins?
11. Vintage lace dresses: Lots of these and especially in white for the white party. The ladies of Alt are master thrifters and re-inventors so don’t think everything has to come fresh off the runway. Looking at what’s been worn before is a great place to start thinking of how it can be new again.
12. Faux fur vests: Something about mountains and fur vests that go together. I don’t own any faux fur so I actually brought my real fur as my coat. I might add that several people came up to me to pet it, noticing it felt a lot different than the vest. Yes, it feels different. But faux or not, fur is defnitely appropriate for Utah in January.
13. The sock bun: Wearing buns for years, the sock bun trick has somehow escaped me all this time. Where did I miss the boat? Luckily, you can remedy that right quick with the Say Yes to Hoboken tutorial on making your own sock bun structure.
14. Red or coral lipstick: I don’t wear lipstick, I wear chapstick. Sometimes a Chanel sheer. Usually I go for nude lips and play up the eyes but maybe next year I’ll be a little bolder. Plus it seems to photograph well – which is appropriate since there will be about 10 professional photographers roving around at any given time, and about 34 photo booths to participate in. Just as before, don’t be afraid to step out of your “I have a practical and responsible day job” routine.
15. Glitter hotpants: See items 1-14. If there is anything that is clear about Alt is that you can pretty much bring/wear/do anything. And that includes glitter hotpants. You will definitely not see these out in DC – I haven’t even seen these out in New York. But if you’re feeling a little funky and you own such an item, just bring it and wear it with confidence. You’ll be glad you did.