Selecting Your Trade Show Shirts. Uniforms vs. Unicorns

What to wear at a trade showWhy Fit In When You Were Born To Stand Out! Great advice from the renowned philosopher,  Dr. Seuss.  Especially poignant advice when planning your apparel for your next trade show booth.

Most likely you’ve spent thousands to display your wares or feature your services at a trade show, so my first piece of advice is this: Don’t skimp on your apparel.  Pay attention. I don’t care if you spend a little or a lot, but make a conscious choice of what you want your people to wear.  At most shows you have probably less than 20 seconds to make an impression. Make it count.

Pick a theme.  Tie it all together.  Most trade show booths are somewhat “generic”, featuring a product, service, or brand we want to shout to the attendees. Make sure your apparel ties it together. If you have a high-end brand that appeals to high earners, I suggest you wear a brand that appeals to high earners.  If you're “cooking up new ideas”, Chef coats may be a good choice. If you can “fix your customers problems” perhaps dress as a mechanic. Play to your audience and play to the show. 

Pick a color(s).  I can tell you that when we attend a show for our industry, the companies selling the products they think you should wear at a trade show are dressed all alike in a single color. Is this right? If it’s right for you. I think uniformity has a calming effect; a sense of everything is as it should be. A sense of organization.  But perhaps a little boring.  Many years ago a customer purchased lime green shirts for the entire staff to wear opening day at one of the largest consumer trade shows in the US. We made custom lime green and black ties made to match. They were introducing a new product line that year, and you can bet they got noticed. So my advice is to pick a color that accents your booth or your theme without blending in. If your show is multiple days, a different color every day is acceptable. If you don’t want a single color, pick multiple colors but assign the colors to the staff. If you leave the selection  up to them, or it will look like you left it up to them.

Show your Brand. We’re all accustomed to the common left chest embroidery, but that is a single option.  Under the collar yoke, on the sleeve cuff or even a full back decoration are not out of line at a trade show.  Re-inforce your web address, or use the extra location for co-branding with a supplier or partner.  Tone on tone decoration is not my first choice at a show. High contrast between the shirt color and the embroidery will make it stand out. Lots of color is even better..

Wrinkle resistant vs. Wrinkle free? Ok, there is no such thing as wrinkle free in apparel, unless you are outfitting Unicorns ( I had to tie that in somewhere). My point is this: make sure your employees know the difference. I suggest you distribute shirts at least a week in advance of the show to allow employees to launder and press their shirts.  Every hotel has an iron available for the last minute touch up. If you have your doubts, take care of the laundry and ironing personally and hand out the shirts at the show. We have even had shirts laundered before we ship to a show for customers in the past. Don’t let your employees ruin the image you have worked hard to build with shirts that are “fashionably wrinkled”.

Advice is at hand. Not sure about your options? That’s why we have customer service. Give us a call to discuss your show and what you would like to accomplish, and let one of our apparel professionals give you some valuable suggestions. Start here to see some our most popular trade show shirt options: Our job is to make you look good at yours.