Friday, March 18, 2016

WFF Conference: What it is, what I wore

See original flat lays here

On Monday, I shared some flat lays that I created to help me pack for my work conference in Dallas this week. Today, I thought I would do a follow up post and let you know how my outfit selections worked out and why. I also wanted to share a little bit more about the conference because I thought it was absolutely rewarding and if you have the opportunity to attend one in the future, I highly recommend it! Let's get started!

Jacket: Gap | Tee: CS Gems | Leggings: Zella | Shoes: New Balance

The conference started at 5pm on Sunday, and my flight got into Dallas around noon. I had to run out to one of our restaurants first, but I didn't have to actually meet with anyone, so this outfit ended up being perfect. The jacket was a great layer leaving the cooler weather in St. Louis, but was still light enough to be comfortable in the 70-80 degree weather in Dallas.

I attended a leadership development conference hosted by the Women's Foodservice Forum. The forum was started by a group of 11 women twenty-seven years ago and was meant to be a network and support group for women who worked in the foodservice industry since nothing like it existed. The conference has now grown to 3,600 attendees, which is an amazing stat in and of itself. 

Dress: Old Navy | Necklace: Kendra Scott | Scarf: Express | Flats: Louise et Cie (option here, cheaper option here)

I just realized I never shared this flat lay in my post on Monday! Whoops! Anyway… the only events I had to attend on Sunday were the general session at 5pm followed by the reception at 6:30. I figured I would save my two pencil skirt outfits for the full days on Monday and Tuesday, and then travel back home in my black pants/jacket outfit on Wednesday knowing the weather would be cooler when I landed back home in St. Louis. That left this dress for Sunday night's events thanks to the process of elimination. Oh, and yes, my hotel didn't have a full length mirror so I had to take matters into my own hands...

Sunday night's general session was awesome! The first keynote speaker was Ann Compton, a White House correspondent. She spoke about all the presidents she brushed shoulders with, all while raising four kids and occasionally having to bring them to work with her. Next was Candy Chang. Her story was completely different but equally inspiring. She is an artist that creates reflective and interactive pieces that unite communities. I had never heard of the "Before I Die" campaign before, but it was fascinating. In short, she painted the side of an abandoned building with black chalkboard paint and stenciled the words "Before I Die __________" on the wall allowing people to fill in the blanks. It went viral and there are now several variations of this project around the world. For me, their stories showed how you can make a difference in your own little piece of the world regardless of what your profession is.

Top: Express | Skirt: LOFT | Flats: Louise et Cie (option here, cheaper option here)

Monday started off a bit rough! I was so proud of myself for waking up at 5:30 to work out, but when I went down to the fitness center in the hotel, I was greeted by a contractor who said they were in the middle of remodeling it. He said that if I went to the front desk, they would just send me to the hotel gym across the street. Not exactly. They sent me to the gym about a half mile away, and while I didn't mind the walk, I just didn't factor in the 20 minutes it would likely take me to walk there and back. I went ahead and accepted the challenge, but got a little lost along the way, and needless to say I was running WAY late. I didn't have time to do my hair, which was probably for the best anyway because I forgot both my flat iron AND my curling wand. You'd think I never traveled before!! 

This outfit ended up being just fine for the day. The skirt really is perfect for staying crisp and wrinkle free despite all the sitting. I was quite surprised with how many women wore heels during this! I'm talking 4" heels! You guys know I love my heels, but I am not exaggerating when I say I walked almost 19,000 steps on Monday. There's no way I could have lasted a quarter of that in heels!

Monday our keynote speaker was Nely Galan. She is a firecracker, and I loved it! Her message focused on being an entrepreneur. The one thing that really resonated with me was when she said you should never discount yourself. Don't sell yourself short, especially when you are describing yourself. If you make money selling a service or a product, don't be shy to call yourself an entrepreneur. You sell food that you bake? Call yourself a chef! I feel in both work and blog life I have a tendency to downplay my role and progress, and that's something I want to work on moving forward.

There were classes I attended throughout the day as well that were focused on networking, communication, and technological trends. By the way, I learned that the majority of millenials said they would rather lose their sense of smell than their smart phone!!

Scarf: Express | Tee: CS Gems | Bottoms: Express | Booties: Hinge

Monday evening I got to have dinner with a high school friend and his wife. My dogs were barking by then. Flats or not, my feet hurt, and I really just needed shoes I could wear with socks. These booties kind of limited what I could wear for dinner, so I just decided to remix the tee and scarf from Sunday's outfits and throw on some black skinnies. We ended up getting margaritas and sharing nachos at a place called Yucatan and then ended up at Blind Butcher where we had another round of cocktails and shared a sausage plate and some brussel sprouts.

Jacket: Express | Cami: Express (shop current colors and prints here) | Necklaces: Kendra Scott (here (c/o) and here) | Bottoms: Express | Booties: Hinge

So, this was supposed to be my going home outfit, but when I woke up on Tuesday, my feet were still not quite ready to be without socks, so I went ahead and wore this outfit but swapped out the flats for these booties. Despite the heel on these booties, they were a lot more comfortable than walking bare footed in flats. I probably should have brought some of my foot balm to help my tired feet survive a bit longer in the flats, but oh well. It was pretty hot in Dallas. It hit 89 the day I wore this jacket, and I was dying a bit, especially after the half mile walk from the hotel to the convention center. It took me a while to cool off, but once I did, the outfit ended up working perfectly for the day.

Tuesday's keynote speaker at the general session was Elizabeth Lombardo and she spoke about how we constantly strive to be perfect but end up stifling ourselves as a result of us being our own worst critics. She was so much fun to listen to - and she has a book called Better Than Perfect that I may just have to pick up. Tuesday's classroom sessions were about creating ideal employee environments and accountability.

Top: Charming Charlie (c/o) | Necklaces: Charming Charlie (c/o) (here and here) | Leggings: Zella | Booties: Hinge

I had planned to wear this to Tuesday's dinner event, but I ended up skipping it. I had some work to catch up on, and frankly, my body was on the brink of a breakdown, so I just needed to rest. I ended up taking a nap at 5, woke up to eat room service at 7, then fell back to sleep for the night at 8. The good news is, I woke up feeling ready and recharged, and arrived for breakfast a little after 7am at the convention center. There was no one there yet practically, so I took advantage of the empty bathrooms and managed to snap a proper selfie.

Arianna Huffington was the final keynote speaker and I adored her! Her talk was on wellness, and most importantly how sleep is a performance enhancer. (Ironic since I had gotten so much sleep the night before!) She recommended staying off your phone the last half hour before you sleep just to let your mind relax and wind down. I also had to laugh because she said something like, "I bet every one of you in this room knows the exact percentage of battery life left on your phone." Which is so true! But her point was that we always make sure our phones are charged but we often don't know what's going on with our own bodies. Apparently she passed out from exhaustion one time, broke her cheekbone, and had to get stitches. It was then that she realized she wasn't taking care of herself, especially since that morning, she felt completely fine! Food for thought!

Super hard to condense the 3.5 days into one post! But the short story is - I learned so much and was so inspired at the conference and I was able to meet so many new people in the industry around the country! The one outfit I didn't wear was the purple palm print skirt and portofino. My feet just couldn't survive in the flats one more second though, so I had to improvise with the other outfits. The olive poncho was totally fine for the last day. In fact, by day 2, I definitely saw less heels and more sandals, sneakers, and flip flops! The walking was no joke!!

And that's it! Luckily I only have one day trip next week and then I am hopefully done with work travel for awhile. It definitely takes a lot out of me, and while I do love seeing new things and going to new places, it's comforting to get back into a normal routine again! Have a great weekend!

Linking up for:  Fashion Friday, Friday Favorites.


  1. This conference sounds amazing, I would love to attend something like that. You made it! I hope there's no traveling for you this week.


  2. What an awesome recap!! Thanks for taking the time to put it together (I can't even imagine how long this took) but I really enjoyed reading about your experience and some of the highlights from the speakers. And of course, I always enjoy your outfits, but it's extra fun to fit them into a specific context like this. So I guess as bloggers we are entrepreneurs? I like it. :)
    Gina || On the Daily Express

  3. Loved reading the conference summary - I agree about not selling ourselves short...and also paying us much attention to our bodies as we do our phones lol! Am super impressed at how chic you looked for every day of the conference, despite having to improvise. I saw your gym walk on snap and was not impressed with the hotel sending you out like that...if their gym was closed, they need a shuttle!

    MY BLOG: ♥♥♥ Ella Pretty ♥♥♥