As you know last Wednesday I flew out to Dallas for the 3rd year running for the RewardStyle conference, otherwise known as #RSthecon. RewardStyle is the affiliate company I work with that allows me to earn commission from recommendations I make to my readers (it doesn’t cost you any more, it just means it funds all of the free content I provide). Based in Dallas the RewardStyle programme was founded by Amber Ventz Box, a blogger and her then boyfriend Baxter. Amber wanted to create a platform that would reward influencers for the work they do promoting brands. Since founding the company in her early twenties, Amber has become well known in the Tech world for her innovative business and vision. In fact she is a pretty “Big Cheese” now, but still down to earth and incredibly approachable. Plus of course she has a seriously fabulous wardrobe.
So back to the trip, what do you wear to Dallas #RSthecon when you are due to be one of the oldest people at the conference, one of only a few Brits and not a size zero? I also don’t own a Chanel, Valentino or Gucci handbag (the most popular options I saw there) Well, below you will see everything I packed and wore. One of the advantages of being older and a Brit, is that you do stand out. For some this might not feel like an advantage, but when you want to be noticed by brands it can be. Part of the conference is set aside for one to one meetings with brands in the hope that you can work together on a campaign (it’s a bit like speed dating) So far I haven’t done a lot of brand work because I only want to work with brands that I truly believe in. I think it is better for me to promote a brand that I have spent my own money on, than be told what to write because they are paying me. So please rest assured that if you do see me working with brands, they are only the ones I would buy myself and I am hoping that a few of those I met and really liked will turn into opportunities to collaborate.
What to Wear to Dallas #RSthecon
I needed 8 outfits; 2 travel days, 3 daytime outfits and 3 dressy evening outfits. The conference starts with registration on the Thursday afternoon with champagne and networking, then an opening cocktail party at the rooftop pool. I have always arrived on the Wednesday evening in the hope that I will get some sleep before the start of the conference on Thursday. In reality of course I tend to wake up about 5am on the Thursday, but it means I have time to unpack and do my hair before heading out shopping with my friend and fellow 40+ blogger, Deborah from Toronto.
For travelling out on the Wednesday I wore a supremely comfortable pair of jeans from NYDJ, a cream top, navy cardigan, scarf and flat loafers. I love my luggage to match so I took my Mulberry Lily as my handbag, a red tote bag, large red suitcase and my Lulu Guiness Lips case (I always get questions about this!) I checked in both cases and just took the tote and handbag on the flight.
In the large suitcase I packed most of my clothes, leaving a few pieces for the smaller case, shoes, my laptop and a few of the lighter bags because I knew it would be heavy. In the smaller case I packed some clothing for the first night, shoes, handbags and all of my toiletries and makeup and tech items.
I will do a separate post on all of the beauty products I took with me and why.
After losing so much weight it would have been rude not to try a traditional American breakfast!
On Thursday, with most of the day free, Deborah and I headed off to the North Park Mall for some retail therapy. I of course visited Eileen Fisher but for once didn’t buy anything! Not because there weren’t things I liked, more because I had already spent quite a bit of my Spring budget on pieces for the trip. Deborah found a gorgeous dress and some great trainers. We both bought jewellery, I found the perfect earrings to go with my outfit for the last day and Deborah bought earrings to go with two of the dresses she was wearing for the event.
Back at the hotel the prep had started for welcoming 200 of RewardStyle’s top influencers from around the world. Although mostly US based, there were also other Europeans, Japanese and bloggers from the newest country to join RewardStyle, Brasil.
The RewardStyle Liketoknowit Bicycles
Prepping the reservation desk
The very grand foyer at the Crescent Court Hotel
After registering and a glass of bubbly in the brand suite – a bit like an exhibition where you can wander round stands and talk to the brands attending – it was back to my room to get party ready.
We were entertained with a DJ and Synchronised swimmers and the cocktails were free flowing.
The party was hosted by Supergoop, specialists in suncare, not available in the UK at the moment
After the party we headed out to dinner and then for an early night ready for the business part of the conference the next day.
On Friday morning the conference began with a typical Blogger and Instagram favourite breakfast, Avocado on toast.
For day one I wore a few old and some new pieces.
Top – here in cream and blue // Necklace no longer available // Trousers sold out // Bag and shoes LK Bennett old //
Followed by a keynote from Amber about the future of Influencers and Social Media, brands discussing how they work with Influencers, A Q&A with top blogger Aimee Song from Song of Style, an inspiring talk by Kendra Scott on how she started her jewellery brand (brilliantly, because I love it, now available in the UK at Selfridges) and the future of the technology that runs RewardStyle and the App LiketoKNOWit (I will be doing a blog about the App and how to use it)
Lunch was hosted by Banana Republic and consisted of delicious salads, minty green tea and frozen chocolate bananas.
We were also given a hat and there was a photo booth to catch the moment.
The afternoon was spent in brand meetings and classroom sessions. I met with QVC who do a brilliant range of beauty products, which I will come back to at a later date and Ebay who want to promote the fact that they aren’t just an auction site, the majority of what they sell is actually new.
The party was Mexican themed with Tequila cocktails, Chocolate Churros and canapés, including fried avocado.
The final day of the conference hadn’t promised the best weather. There was rain and thunder forecast, but fortunately only fine rain arrived. As all of the morning’s events were held at the hotel, with a little walk across the courtyard and carpark it wasn’t too much of a problem. The hotel laid on a fleet of staff to ferry umbrellas backwards and forwards so that hair, makeup and outfits were still instagramable!
For this outfit I went for the wide leg slouchy trouser trend. There had to be a least one outfit containing Eileen Fisher pieces and this was it 🙂 These trousers are beautiful and I felt so elegant in them. Because they are wide though and I was wearing a loose top, I created a waistline with a belt and a little tie front shrug (ancient from Phase Eight)
The earrings that I bought at Kate Spade were perfect with this necklace.
Earrings (bought in the US and therefore much cheaper – so annoying for those of you in the UK)
Lunch was held offsite at a local restaurant and hosted by Sole Society. We were ferried there on a special bus.
The flowers at the venue were stunning.
Once again there was a goodie bag waiting for us. Mine contained a mustard coloured woven clutch and a navy scarf – perfect considering the gifts were random and depended on where you sat.
We ate delicious packed lunches of club sandwiches, chips (as the Americans call crisps) Potato salad, fruit and a large chocolate chip cookie which I saved to have with tea later (gosh it was a joy to have a proper cup of tea when I got home, especially after being charged $10 for coloured hot water in the hotel!)
After lunch I had one more classroom session and a quick dash back to the Brand suite before they all packed up, so that I could talk to the ones I had missed including Kendra Scott, Loccitane, Colleen Rothschild, My Theresa and The Daily Edited.
Now I have a confession to make…
I didn’t make it to the final night party. There were several reasons, the main one being that I was absolutely shattered. But also because I had a sleeveless outfit and it had turned chilly as well as wet. Hardly any of the 40+ group attended so Deborah and I decided we would go for a leisurely dinner and a quiet chat.
Here is what I was planning on wearing.
So I now need another dressy event to go to!
On the Sunday I took the opportunity to have a lie in and room service before heading out for a walk and a leisurely lunch in the hotel garden. For my last day, travelling home I again wore comfortable stretch crop jeans, this time in red (they come in plenty of other colours too and are incredibly soft) and a Breton stripe top with the same loafers I travelled out in.
So what did I take away from the conference? Well apart from a ton of goodies, the best of which I will share in a review when I get the chance to try them out, a few Aha moments and recommendations on what I can do better.
- Google will be favouring mobile searches over old style desk top, so my mobile presence has to be fast and easy for you to use.
- Over 80% of brands are now using influencers for their marketing, the theory being that we want to see and get recommendations from someone real. This doesn’t always work of course, because there are some who will take any campaign for the money (or gift) which is why I am so firm about only working with brands I love. Losing the trust of my readers isn’t worth a few quick bucks.
- Data analysis so that I can see what my readers are loving so I can bring them more of what they want to see.
- How to make my site easier to navigate and for you to shop my recommendations
Plus some brilliant networking opportunities with old as well as new blogging friends and of course the chance to get dressed up and let down my hair!