As you probably know, last week I went to Dallas for the 2nd year running for the RewardStyle conference. It brings together 200 of RewardStyle’s top influencers from around the world, predominantly bloggers but some YouTubers are also invited as well. The majority of the attendees are between 20 and 30 but encouragingly the number of over 40’s is increasing and this year I made several new blogging friends. The parties, brand meetings and workshops are always good but for me the best part of the event is meeting up with likeminded women who have a business mind and also love fashion. We spent several dinners swapping ideas and sharing tactics for growing our businesses. I will introduce you to some of them later in the post.
Of course the first thing that springs to mind when the invitation arrives (immediately after the excitement of having been invited back) is “what will I wear?” As I said to Liz “you cannot be overdressed!” The conference officially starts at 3pm on Thursday with registration and a glass of bubbly but I like to get there the day before knowing that I will be suffering from jet lag – I always wake up about 4-5 am on the first day. So I flew in on Wednesday arriving early evening and had arranged to meet my friend Deborah from Canada for an early dinner and an early night. This year the conference had moved from it’s usual home at the Joule Hotel to The Crescent Court (a shame I thought, as overall the Joule was much nicer and the service was considerably better) which had a beautiful reception and lounge area and really pretty gardens – perfect for all those blogger photo opportunities!
To travel out I wore my trusty LKB leggings, a linen T shirt and because I always feel the chill on a plane, a cosy striped knit. I accessorised with a new pair of backless loafers (perfect if feet swell) and my Lily bag. Going out I also took onboard a Lulu Guinness cabin case. For the return journey I wore new Marks and Spencer cargo trousers, a floral top and a beautiful featherweight cashmere poncho from Pure Collection. On the return journey as I was planning on sleeping I decided to check my cabin case and use my Longchamp tote bag. These bags are truly brilliant and I recommend them all the time. The one I took is fairly new but I have one from at least 15 years ago which I use every week for shopping and have taken on countless trips. They are lightweight, fold pretty flat but are incredibly strong and durable. Plus they come in a huge range of colours.
The next morning Deborah and I met up for breakfast and decided we would head out shopping (no surprise there!) The weather was beautiful and we took a taxi to the North Park Mall which was quiet and therefore very pleasant to shop. I think i must have been suffering with tiredness as all I bought was a pair of earrings and some makeup in Sephora (great for brands that you can’t get at home). At 3pm we returned to the hotel to register and have a welcome drink before heading upstairs to prepare for the first night’s Pool Party an “escape to Tulum” themed event sponsored by Sole Society.
For this event I wore a long silk tunic which was a bargain in the Eileen Fisher sale, a pair of blue capri pants, bronze shoes and a gold bag – all of which are old and no longer available. The necklace, however is from Capsule Accessories and you can buy a similar gold bag here.
It was absolutely sweltering on this first night so the musicians must have been incredibly uncomfortable!
I didn’t make it to dinner with the rest of the gang because by 7.30pm I was seriously flagging so I headed to my room for some in room dining and an early night.
Day 2 is the start of the conference, workshops and networking meetings. It begins with presentations from the stage and panels discussing all things blogging, influencers and social media, wrapped up with RewardStyle’s co-founder Baxter Box discussing the future. Usually Amber Ventz, Baxter’s wife and Co-founder would be in attendance but she had literally just given birth to their second child, a little boy – huge congratulations to them!
For the first full day of the conference I wore my See by Chloe blouse with a pair of Ivory capri pants and accessorised with a necklace from Hobbs last year, my favourite new bag, Sunglasses and a pair of Aquazzurra shoes snapped up in the Matches sale.
After the morning presentations we headed over to Shake Shack for a picnic style lunch of delicious burgers sponsored by Banana Republic.
After lunch I was scheduled for a brand meeting and a couple of workshops. But I also headed over to the “brand suites” which is where the different brands attending have exhibition type stands so that you can talk to them informally. This is a great opportunity to find out more about them or discover new brands you don’t already know. I think the best stand award must go to L’Occitane who I did already know and love but their display was so beautiful and they very generously gave me a bag full of gorgeous goodies.
I also met up with skincare company Colleen Rothschild. I had been wanting to try their products, particularly the cleansing balm which I have heard so much about. They very kindly gave me a bag full of products which I will be reviewing soon.
It was a quick dash back to my room to get ready for the evening’s cocktail party in the beautiful atrium and hosted by Bumble BFF. This company also gave a presentation earlier in the day and I really loved them and their brand ethos. They started out as an online dating company specifically for women to make the first move, however they have now expanded with Bumble BFF so that you can make friends too. If you have moved to a new location you can sign up to find friends with similar interests. I love their marketing messages too – they are tongue in cheek, proud feminists who don’t allow any misogynistic behaviour on the App.
I didn’t manage to get a good photo of my outfit for this event, sadly.
But here is what I wore:
I absolutely loved these shoes and they certainly got lots of attention.
I did wonder if the group I was with could hazard a guess to the value of the handbags at the party – I saw so many Chanel, Dior and other high end brand handbags. Apparently it is now a better bet to invest your money in a Chanel or Hermes handbag than property as they go up in value so quickly – there’s your excuse to treat yourself!
After the party we headed for dinner in the Hotel’s grill restaurant. Delicious but expensive. The highlight though was the conversation with my 40 plus blogging buddies.
I had a quiet start to the day with a busy afternoon. I attended a workshop on extending your brand into a book and had a couple of brand meetings. Lunch today was sponsored by Topshop and was a garden lunch which was a little unfortunate because the weather had really turned. The garden room wasn’t large enough to hold us all and as we didn’t want to sit outside where it was decidedly chilly, we headed to a local cafe instead.
I was so glad that I packed my featherweight cashmere poncho. I put it on with the outfit above for the afternoon.
It was then another very quick turnaround for the finale party to celebrate the new LIKEtoKNOW.it App (now available in the App store, and to put it simply it will change the way you shop online. You simply need to screenshot a picture and if it has been enabled in the App – I’m doing this now with my outfit images on social media – it will match the picture and give you a direct link to buy the items. In the first month of the App being launched it has matched over 1 million screenshots!)
For the final night party, which was at the Wyly Theatre and described as “a progressive experience that takes guests to new heights”, I wore a beautiful green silk dress. The event was black tie optional but for me a long dress wouldn’t be practical as I wouldn’t have other opportunities to wear it. This was one of my favourite outfits because it was really comfortable to wear and I know I will wear it again for evenings out and probably at Christmas too. Green was definitely the “in” colour for the night as there were several green dresses including my new friend Beth’s.
We had a short ride to the event and were escorted from the bus by some of the lovely RewardStyle male staff who took our arm and led us into the party. We were taken up to the rooftop for champagne for the first hour of the party before returning downstairs for part two. By 10 o’clock Deborah, Beth and I were starting to flag so we decided to head back to the hotel. We discovered afterwards that the final part of the evening had a group of drummers entertaining and then leading everyone to a dance floor.
On Sunday morning I had a leisurely start with breakfast in my room. As I wasn’t flying until 6pm I decided to head back to the mall for a couple of hours where I had a successful shop in Eileen Fisher (see what I bought here) then it was back to the hotel to collect my bags and head to the airport. For the last day and travelling home I wore the outfit below, then added my cashmere poncho for the flight home.
As last year, it was a fantastic trip, if exhausting because it is full on with all the meetings and parties but definitely something I wouldn’t want to miss. As only the top 2% of RewardStyle influencers are invited it is also a real honour to be there with such a brilliant group of women. I’m already looking forward to next year!