Packing for Nationals – NOW? Why not?


Susan-Mermaid-avatarI know, I know – the RWA National Conference is in July. So, why am I getting all het up about packing already?

Because the finalists for the Golden Heart and RITA awards are being announced on March 26th. And I am pretty sure there are some writers who, after jumping up and down, screaming, crying, calling everyone they know

and some they don’t, will suddenly have that dull, ugly lump of dread blooming in their innards: WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO WEAR?

Back in the day (1986, to be specific) this finalist/winner wore a chic white cocktail dress she found in a bridal shop, and some very nifty gold-and-black jewelry. The dress is long gone – thank goodness shoulder pads went out of style – but the necklace still lives in my jewelry box, a beloved and respected treasure. The medal has changed since I received mine, and the Modess rose is replaced with the organization’s pensive author.

goldenheart86Nice change, huh?  And, no, I can’t find the photograph.

Do folks still wear cocktail dresses when they final? I wouldn’t know, since that hasn’t been a blessing for me since re-activating my membership in 2009. What I do know is, you’d better get your Oscar vibe going as a finalist! You’ll be expected to be wearing some serious flash when you’re at the awards – and before! Still, let’s not forget: New York is a shopping capitol of the world (if not THE shopping capital). I know it’ll be late, late, late to be thinking of which dress to wear. But we can dream, can’t we? Which is why you want to browse this list before you land in the Big Apple.

New York Magazine lists the drool-worthy shopping destinations. I know you’re going to be super busy chasing down editors and agents and making appointments, and maybe you can fit in one more session (thank goodness for Starbucks!), but seriously: make time to hit just one of these icons. Personal favorites: Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany. Not like I go buying things there all the time, people. I mean, really? I can look, though. And you can, too! (Another FYI I heard from a cabbie: New Yorkers take cabs. Tourists walk. Don’t be shy, take a cab.)


Now that you’ve had to stop off in some going-out-of-business dive somewhere off Broadway to buy a second suitcase, let’s not forget the ultimate Mecca of all that is good in the pursuit of loveliness: Sephora After all, you’ve been selected as a finalist – stop doubting me! I know you will. So, hie thee to this website when we are closer to your magnificent appearance in the GH/RITA pre-awards reception:

And make youself an appointment for a glamming up. Or just head over at some odd moment to admire the wonders of everything that is promised – to make you a sultry vixen or a stylish know-it-all or just… you, but better. And, just an FYI, makeup with SPF doesn’t photograph well, as all my RWA Atlanta photos include happy people and one ghost.

Finally, what do I *wear* at Nationals?

Good question! I’ll leave you with this list – an incredibly kind post on by a kind and organized (and fashionable!) member named Asphalt. Her words:
Makeup  Board Bath & Body Board Fragrance Board Skin Care Board Hair Care Board Fitness Board Nail Care Board FOTD Photo Board Cosmetic Procedures Board Cafe Board Fashion Board Wedding Food & Nutrition Home & Garden Board Entertainment Board Travel Board Work & Money Board Go Green Board Pet Board Family Board 40+ Board Technical Support Board Testing Board

i would bring +

  • bright pencil skirt
  • white jeans
  • pretty silk blouse
  • nice t-shirt graphic t-shirt
  • button down (chambray, cotton, whatever)
  • cocktail dress (2 of them)
  • linen blazer
  • scarf
  • sandals
  • neutral heels (or flats)
  • evening heels
  • and whatever fun jewelry you have

then you could wear:

  • day 1: bright pencil skirt, pretty silk blouse, scarf, neutral heels
  •  day 2: bright pencil skirt, nice t-shirt, linen blazer, neutral heels
  • day 3: white jeans, button down, neutral heels
  • bar: white jeans, pretty silk blouse, neutral heels or sandals
  • party 1: cocktail dress 1, evening heels
  • party 2/dinner: cocktail dress 2, evening heels
  • bar: white jeans, pretty silk blouse, neutral heels or sandals
  • playtime 1: white jeans, nice t-shirt, scarf, sandals
  • playtime 2: bright pencil skirt, graphic t-shirt, sandals
  • playtime 3: white jeans, button down, sandals
There. Change out one of the cocktail dresses for an evening gown, and you’d good to go. PS, I used this list for Anaheim and Atlanta, and had a blast. Only, in Anaheim, I broke down and visited a Skechers shop to replace some incredibly impractical sandals. On the big day, after all, we want to still be fresh enough to look like this:
In another post closer to Nationals, I’ll share the rest of my suitcase. I have lists of lists for conference packing!
(Share your rules, mores, shibboleths, must-haves and DoNotPlays for Nationals – we want to know!)



About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

15 thoughts on “Packing for Nationals – NOW? Why not?

  1. Thanks! This will be my first time going to Nationals so all advice is appreciated! I won’t need an evening gown but I might try and squeeze in some NY shopping anyway. 🙂

    1. Julia, you’re gonna love it! So glad you could stop by for inspiration. And, seriously? If can book a slot for volunteering – a great way to make connections and gather friends!

  2. Full admission: there was a dress I really wanted when I went to my first national RWA in 2013, but it was a couple hundred bucks, so I went with standard black JC Penny fare instead. I skipped Nationals last year, and am headed for NYC this year. I am STILL thinking of that dress. I looked it up–it’s in the Lauren: Ralph Lauren and there are new versions of the dress in more colors. I’ve found them on sale and even on ebay. Super excited!

    You made me nostalgic for some white jeans! I have pink jeans which got big a few years ago.

    1. I bought the dress online tonight. The same one I wanted 2 years ago but in a different color. And I got a deal, so dream dress = JC Penney price 🙂

  3. I had some pink jeans too! They were from when SJP was doing her Gap ads. 🙂 Fist bump for the pink jeans!

    Love you, Susan Mermaid. I just remember getting to look through some of your make up bag with you on that visit to VA when i gave you Twilight themed sweet tarts. You have THE BEST make up bag.

    Can’t wait for that next post closer to Nationals!

    1. Okay – pink jeans for the win! And thanks for the makeup-bag love! I adore my (gwp Estee Lauder red top-zip) bag. I’ve been trying hard to control the makeup acquisition urge – but hey, with Sephora just across the street in July, I might just need to melt some credit cards… 🙂

  4. Too funny, Susan. I’m the one who starts throwing random stuff in a suitcase the day I’m leaving. I usually end up with doubles of all kinds of things and other things I forget completely. But that’s just how I roll. lol.
    I used to pack nice business-type stuff for Nationals, but last year I packed jeans and capris with nice shirts and sandals. I got dressed up for awards night, and that’s it. I love that I can sit on the floor in a standing-room-only workshop and not have to worry about what I’m wearing. haha.
    Great post. 🙂

    1. Kimberly, I learned a whole lotta lessons in Anaheim, especially with those dragged sandals. The Skechers I bought were admired far and wide. Lesson: one can be chich AND comfortable. Keep in mind, too, that New York is a town for waking. That is, if you’re not taking a cab. 😉

  5. Love it, Susan! Will you pack for me? I always pack wrong, take waaaaay too much stuff, and get charged overage. And I never look as chic as you.


Comments are closed.