Conference Style Guide: What kind of Handbag to bring to a Conference

Hi loves!
Since I have been to so many conferences this past year (and still on planning on going to a few more before I graduate), I have become experienced with what kinds of bags work or don’t work for carrying your things at conferences without sacrificing style!
I am coorganizing a symposium at the ASBMB 2016 Meeting in San Diego in April, and hopefully attending another conference or two by the summer – so there are a lot of opportunities to network but so many opportunities to be stylish as well!

What do you usually carry with you at a conference?

1. The conference schedule/handbook – So you can easily look up talks and posters to attend. Some conferences have changed to an app or PDF with all the info – super useful and less things to carry around!
2. Your laptop or iPad – I have found that an iPad has the same power as a laptop for conference purposes, browser, messaging, sending emails, reading papers, tweeting about the conference, etc! and it isn’t as heavy!
3.  Your Camera (DSLR, for bloggers!) – This can get really heavy, so I only brought one lens with me that I would use (you can bring two, but I would only bring two max!). You can always use your iPhone to snap some photos too, which is handy now that the newer iPhones have really great cameras! Just make sure you have great lighting.
4. A backup external battery and charging cords – this is a MUST! Sitting though talks something might interest you, so you want to look it up, or you read a certain paper, or visit a certain site, etc., and all of a sudden your battery on your iPad, iPhone, etc. is drained! and it’s only noon! Not enough time to go back to the hotel, so you should make sure you bring your charging cords with you to plug in. Some conferences are good about having charging stations, others don’t, and if you are traveling internationally, make sure you bring a universal adaptor to change the voltages and plugs! An external battery that takes usb cords has been a life saver for me, and I have found a good one on Amazon that holds a charge for A WHILE – check out this product!

5. A snack – an apple, granola bar or energy bar, etc. – Sometimes conferences don’t provide meals so you have to fend for yourself and buy a way overpriced salad or sandwich from the conference concessions. If you will have enough time for a lunch break, then pack some snacks to hold you over until lunch time or dinner time so you don’t have to spend money on unhealthy and overpriced items!

6. A pen and some business cards – Even in this digital era, a business card is still important. Names and email addresses get lost in the digital world, so having a physical business card will link your face to the name and contact information. I know that I have remembered people because of their cards versus just writing down their email address! And if your digital devices fail, you have the contact info!

Since you can see there are a lot of things I bring with me to a conference, this calls for a big bag that can get heavy. I shy away from bringing a backpack mainly because I don’t like the style, but you can always find a fashionable backpack to bring if you’d like. But here are my picks for what I would bring to a conference, and all are affordable! You don’t have to spend 1000$ on a briefcase or an expensive bag!

7. The Conference Bag:
The recurring theme with my selections: A big black leather tote! Nude totes also work or white, but I personally like black, mainly because I can match it with whatever outfit I am wearing more easily.
Here are some shoppable selections!

From Forever21:

Some favorites from mixed brands:

From H&M: 

And my own bags I have blog posted about before: 


From Zara and my current handbag  

        From, wore this at the Barcelona Meeting

Like I said, bags can get heavy fast so evaluate if you really need to bring certain things with you, like your camera, etc. I know I had a couple of days where I brought both my iPad and Laptop but ended up using only my iPad and then was lugging around a heavy laptop all day. It was hard!

What do you think about these selections? Is there another style of bag you prefer to carry? 

Is there a certain color you think would be perfect for Conference fashion?

Do let me know in the comments below!





  1. October 12, 2015 / 3:41 pm

    I love these bags and they are perfect for conference indeed! Nice and big to fit all important documents in! 🙂
    Sending you much love, and have a fabulous Monday!
    xoxo, Vanessa

  2. October 13, 2015 / 12:24 pm

    Hello Andrea!! How are you beautiful and super smart girl! Those kind of bags are the ones I use ALL THE TIME for work and when I travel so I am so glad you shared more options. I need to get a good portable charger as I am always running low in phone battery. I really admire you soooo much and I know you are going to accomplish amazing things in life. You truly inspire me:-) Have an amazing rest of the week. Sending you lots of love and blessings! XOXO, Jeannette

  3. October 13, 2015 / 4:00 pm

    These are all very sensible, elegant and stylish. Perfect for a conference, or a day at the office for that matter.

    Bella Pummarola

  4. October 13, 2015 / 4:03 pm

    So good that you have so many conferences to go, it's always a great opportunity of networking, yes, and to be stylish as well, of course, but that you already are! I think you are right, a business card is still important and I loved the selection of bags here! My favorite ones were the two from Forever 21 and the first one (Deal 🙂 from H & M. I think they can carry all and they really look professional and beautiful! Hope you have a very lovely week, dear Andrea!

  5. October 17, 2015 / 9:28 pm

    Thanks for tips, I'll use them definitely! Plus I love that purple bag from BR 🙂

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