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What I Wore: Day 3 of #rStheCon rewardStyle Conference

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ALLSAINTS Paradise North South Totejacket | tee | jeans | boots | bag | sunglasses

what I wore rewardstyle conferenceJacket: Vince Camuto (14) | Tee: Topshop (14) | Jeans: Junarose via Dia & Co (14) | Booties: BCBG (old; similar) | Bag: ALLSAINTS | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

what i wore to the rewardstyle conference in 2017I woke up Saturday raring to go. It had rained the night before and the temps were in the 50s. I opened the French doors of my room (it had a Juliette balcony) to let in the breeze as I got ready. This outfit felt very like me, and full of pieces I already owned in my closet but looked current. This Vince Camuto blazer has no closure and a shawl collar; it’s a drapey crepe fabric and gives the feel of a tux jacket. You’ve seen this choker neck tee on the blog before, paired with these same coated jeans. I wore my silver snakeskin booties I’ve had for a couple years, and again carried my ALLSAINTS tote.  The earrings I borrowed from Rosana of DC Style Factory.

IMG 4093This morning, breakfast was Nobu… and as I wrote this I completely forgot to share that the first night I had dinner at Nobu with Cathy, Jennifer and Susan! That was a great way to start the trip and deserves to be mentioned. So Nobu was again opened, with tables that had liquid yogurt/kefir drinks in little bottles, breakfast burritos, and fruit. More coffee, but this time also the option of tea, non-dairy creamers, and juices. I grabbed a table with Cathy; our friends dined at an outside restaurant that had gluten free options.

I didn’t have a classroom session until 10am so Cathy and I headed to the Networking Hall. It was a large ballroom set up with booths like you’d see at many conferences and trade shows but these were beauty and fashion brands. We skimmed through and stopped by the tde. booth where they would monogram a small leather good for you. I got a black Saffiano luggage tag and pale pink mock lizard business card holder but headed out to get to my first session.

My first classroom session for the day was The Modern Collaboration: The anatomy of Successful Brand Partnerships. I was looking forward to this. It may not be clear as a reader, but I’ve made some changes in the past year with sponsored content. I've stopped working with some companies and been saying no a lot more – if it doesn’t pay well, if they expect me to essentially host copy they wrote, if it’s not a good fit, if the turnaround is too short. I preach quality not quantity on the blog, I should show it with my partnerships too.

The session was hosted by two account managers at rewardStyle and it was a good session because they were super honest. No BS “Just be you!” spiels, they shared why brands ask for certain things, how you should over deliver to get better partnerships in the future, ways to communicate, and more. The audience felt comfortable enough to ask a lot of specific questions, and that’s always where I learn the most.

What I Learned at the First Classroom Session:

  • Don’t accept it if you won’t be proud of it. This is a duh, but often we bloggers will say yes because we fear saying no will put us in a negative light, or we say yes because it’s a new brand or company and we want to build a relationship. But it’s always better to say no, no matter the situation, and tell them WHY. If it’s money, it may be negotiable. If it’s because they want you to post on Facebook and you don’t have Facebook, they may be able to switch that out for a Tweet or InstaStory. If it’s a bad fit, let them know that and how so they can better partner you with products or brands in the future.
  • You can’t over-communicate. I always feel that those who reach out to me for collabs must have inboxes as insane as mine. I get my contract, sign it, reply back with the date I’ll schedule and usually don’t chat again unless I need to share links or metrics. I should be sharing when I receive the content, when I take the pictures, when I’m ready to go live, the links when they go live, and any post-collab feedback from me or my readers. Also let your rep know when you’ve gone above and beyond – extra Instagrams, an InstaStory unboxing, a share on Snapchat, etc.
  • Brands WANT your creativity, your eye, your voice. Don’t try to be them or try to be someone else. If you look at the big successful bloggers, they are all unique in some way. Find your uniqueness and celebrate it, sell it to brands. If they want X and that feels false to you and your readers, come back and offer Y and give them the reasoning. They likely will go with it because they too want to look authentic to your followers.
  • If you get a low price for a partnership, instead of saying no reduce the scope. For that price I can’t provide you with my first born, but instead I can do three Facebook posts and an Instagram tagging you. That sort of thing.
  • Be the infinite player. Baxter Box also said this the previous day. But look for ways to stay in the game. Stick to core values and your brands, but always be thinking ahead. No one player wins, but people will simply drop out. Staying true to you, going above and beyond, and looking for ways to stay fresh and current will keep you in the game.

Right after this session, I had my second classroom session: SEO Essentials: Attracting the Traffic. SEO is not my strong suit. I spent the majority of my blog career on Blogger; I just switched to WordPress in 2014 and have been playing catch up since. I have thousands of posts that haven’t been touched since being flipped over, and even once I was on WordPress I didn’t get an SEO plug-in until 2015. I see my traffic, and I know search engines isn’t where most is coming from so I feel this is a place where I can grow in 2017 without it affecting my content. This was another session where I was writing furiously in my journal, and most came from the audience questions.

What I Learned at the Second Classroom Session:

  • For your blog, have no more than 2-3 Categories, then an even amount of subcategories below them. As for tags, you can’t have too many, but keep using the same ones over and over.
  • Be sure your site is indexed with Google (if it’s not or you’re not sure, google this topic and Google will let you know how to create a sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console)
  • Sunday evening is the best time to post on Pinterest. Consider using Board Booster.
  • For Instagram:
    • Use hashtags, geotags, and tag brands. If you feel that tagging brands will decrease your LikeToKnow.it revenue, tag the brands on top of one another in the corner of your photo. For hashtags don’t be too broad but don’t be too niche
    • The more Instagram tools you use (live, stories, any future tools) the more likely you’ll show up on the Discovery page.
  • Your site NEEDS to be mobile friendly, and be responsive. If you have your site still on Blogger, it’s going to kill your SEO because m.yoursite.com is a redirect.
  • Your site needs to be fast, a max of 4 seconds for loading. Can check your speed with Pingdom, Google page Speeds, or GT Metrix. With GT Metrix, don’t get hung up on your score, worry more about the speed.
  • Link to yourself in posts, and don’t link to “in this blog post” or “here.” Instead say the last time I wore this J. Crew Breton top and put the link on J. Crew Breton top.
  • Rename the file name of your photos with keywords. You don’t need every photo on your post to have the same keywords either. Focus on one hero piece per image. You can use spaces and dashes but do NOT use underscores. Think of Google before Pinterest.

what I wore rewardstyle conferenceImmediately after this session, we had a Garden Lunch with Topshop. Topshop took the courtyard and turned it into a garden party – there was a wall with their logo for photos (a must at this event though I didn't take advantage of this one), they strung flowers into garlands and hung them in the trees, tables indoors and out with beautiful bowls of flowers and even a lucite menu at each place setting.

topshop garden lunch rewardstyle conference 2017They served a gorgeous meal and the prettiest mocktails. The whole thing was lovely… except for the weather. It was around 50 degrees, windy, and cloudy. The hotel brought out blankets. I felt for the blogger next to me who was in the most darling eyelet crop top; she and another blogger at our table wrapped up in blankets.

ezgif 3 65a5a4cf5eI usually run hot and I was in coated jeans, closed-toe boots and a blazer and even I was cold. I’ve been looking on Instagram but everyone has filtered their photos and their choice of photos to make the luncheon adorable and sunny. It was adorable, it just was cold as all get out.  So the Boomerang of me above is a more accurate depiction of the event.

Immediately after lunch I had my third brand meeting, this time with Raymond Weil. Some other bloggers told me they met with the brand the previous day and the brand rep was rude, on the phone the whole time, dismissive. I went in thinking if I got the same experience I would just leave. I did not have that same experience, in fact I had a really good experience. I went in thinking Raymond Weil is a crazypants choice for me and the blog, I mean how many of us can afford one of their watches? But as we were talking we were discussing quality. They knew my reader isn’t one to latch on to every brand, and loves admitting she is wearing the same ring/dress/bag she’s had for over a decade. Yes, their watches are expensive, but they’re quality. They’re the kind of watch you wear for the rest of your life and then it is passed down to another woman in the family. They have a collab with Repetto, the shoe company, and there’s a watch that comes with three different bands and the ability to buy more for a watch wardrobe with a single base face. After talking to them I didn’t think it was a crazypants that they met with me.

raymond weil rewardstyle 2017After Raymond Weil, I was free until the evening party. I went back up to the Networking Hall where I chatted with a few brands, got some swag (follow me on Instagram, I’ll be sharing a giveaway next week in my InstaStories of the swag). It wasn’t as busy, and it was a mix of super nice reps wanting to talk about their brands, and some who literally looked me up and down and didn’t say hi. Funny how I was surrounded by skinny beautiful young women in designer clothes who were the nicest people and the ones who were judgy were the brand reps stuck in the Networking Hall all day. Though it wasn’t the brands you’d think that were snobby or rude to me. I met amazing women at the boots for Lole, a fabulous athleisure brand that carries nothing my size as well as Abecrombie (who BTW is cleaning up their rep – they now have a female CEO, all female exec board, they go up to size 14 and have petites and talls). I was given time and respect at Raymond Weil and was blatantly ignored at low-cost clothing retailers. Oh well, I didn’t get mad. These brands did me a favor by letting me know not to feature them on my blog!

I went back to my room to drop my swag and reached out to Beth to see if she was free. We’ve been blogging buddies for a while, but had yet to find time during the conference to sit down and chat. She met me in the lobby where we had a glass of wine and gabbed. Next thing we knew dinner was happening in an hour so we both raced to our hotel rooms to get ready.

donna morgan off the shoulder maxi dressI didn’t have time to wash and redo my hair, but since the day was so cold, I didn’t get sweaty and frizzy like the day prior. I just brushed and hit a few pieces with the curling iron to smooth. I was also excited that I chose an outfit that was super easy and comfortable to wear – while I did need a strapless bra I was able to go sans control garment and just a pair of Jockey Skimmies underneath for comfort! Since it was cold, I used my blazer from earlier in the day, wearing it cape style over my shoulders.

donna morgan chiffon maxi dressdress | shoes | bag | earrings | ring

rewardstyle conference 2017 over 40 bloggersDress: Donna Morgan (14) | Bag: Loeffler Randall | Earrings: J. Crew | Ring: Stella & Dot from years ago (similar idea) | Shoes: Naturalizer | Blazer: Vince Camuto

A few of us over-40 bloggers decided to get dinner together before the evening affair. We again met at The Capital Grille since it was so close by and had such a varied menu. We ended up with the same table and waitress too! Again, wonderful conversation with these women. Some I knew before the conference, some I didn’t, all I now consider friends. We then headed back to the hotel. There was a new rewardStyle wall set up in the lobby for a photo op, and we all took advantage of it. I know many of you follow Audrey at Putting Me Together; I got a chance to meet her at the conference and we got a photo in front of the wall. Yes, she’s just as nice as she seems online!

black tie optional rewardstyle conferenceThe event was black tie optional. Limo buses picked us up outside the hotel and took us to the AT&T Performing Arts Center. When we arrived, men in tuxes were there to escort us inside. I was trying to walk with the glass of champagne they gave me, my clutch, my caped blazer, and this gentleman holding my arm and well, champagne got on me and my jacket fell off! I don’t know how people function with caped jackets!

We entered and took an elevator up to a rooftop deck. There was the LTK made into a light-up sign and people were taking selfies in front of it. They were passing around water and champagne and hors d’ourves. The deck was a true deck, many had their heels fall into the cracks; I was glad to be wearing my block heel platforms! We walked around, but it was loud and not much was going on so we went downstairs.

Downstairs there were these giant white balls lit up with the LTK logo on it. A full bar, and more passed goodies. Outside there were some heaters, a DJ and a few who were dancing. We didn’t really get the event, it felt like a Bar Mitzvah. Someone said that the real party was starting at 10. It was 9:15 and a bunch of my friends said forget it, we’re out of here and took a limo bus back to the hotel. Cathy and I stayed and danced for a bit.

At 10:00 a drumline arrived wearing shirts with the LTK logo. They performed for us and then walked up the ramp and we followed them up and around a corner to where there was a tent. Tent is the wrong word… it was a house made of plastic sheeting and silver poles. Very cool. Inside was an LED wall with a crazy pattern of the LTK logo and another photo wall with a stand to take photobooth pictures. Servers were offering food… I saw mini cheeseburgers and the whole tent smelled of French fries. The drum line began performing again to Bruno Mars and the audience went bonkers and everyone started dancing.

A little thing about me… I’m not afraid to dance in public. I’ll get down with no fear. And when I dance, my PG County (where I grew up right outside of DC) ends up showing. Don’t play go-go or Rob Base or I’ll go crazy.

The DJ played go-go, and Rob Base, and Salt n Pepa and I had a blast going crazy. Most people were shimmying and looking elegant, a few who seemed to be the type who always are in the center of a dance circle came up front and showed their stuff, and a few of us just did our thing where we were (I was kind of up front).  Another rave for these Naturalizer shoes; my feet didn't hurt, I felt secure in my heels, no blisters.  So many other attendees were taking off their shoes but I felt great!

And another thing about me… I’m a sweater. Not the garment, the type of person who “glistens” at a moment’s notice. So combine the two and I had wet hair and a wet red face. But it was the last night, and honestly, I didn’t care. There were SO MANY PHOTOGRAPHERS everywhere hired by rewardStyle but they were amazing at finding the most flattering times for photos. I knew they wouldn’t be capturing my wet lobster self, and I wasn’t worried what anyone else thought. I danced with Cathy, with Audrey, and with myself. But at 10:30 I was done so Cathy and I caught a limo bus back to the hotel.

delsey titanium suitcaseThe next day I packed up and headed to the airport and was home in time for dinner!  Here you can see my Delsey carry-on and checked-size suitcases and my ALLSAINTS tote chock-full of my in-flight essentials:

What I Learned Day 3 of the rewardStyle Conference:

  • Steam or iron your clothes. I can’t tell you how many beautiful women I saw in beautiful gowns that still had the creases from them being delivered in the mail.  Even if they hung them in the bathroom during their shower it would have been better!
  • Tailor your clothes. Beautiful women, beautiful clothes constantly being hiked up, adjusted, stepped on, or showing underpinnings.
  • Black tie optional is not scary. There were women in full-out pageant gowns, and women in beautiful trousers with dressy tops. I wore a dress that easily could be worn more casual with sandals but the accessories made it appropriate for the affair.
  • Everyone has my earrings. Seriously, I saw 50 women over the weekend wearing these J. Crew earrings in various colors. Second place goes to the Baublebar Pinata tassel earrings, third to the brand’s Crispin Drop earrings.
  • You learn the most from your peers.  I learned in the classroom sessions, but the best knowledge I got was over lamb chops at the Capital Grille dishing with fellow bloggers.  The random conversations with strangers in the elevator, questions asked in sessions, follow-up discussions in the hallways.
  • Be yourself. This is the biggest lesson I learned from this conference. You’re unique, and quirky, and that’s a good thing. I hired a personal stylist because I didn’t have time to plan my outfits, but also because I didn’t want to over-think it and try to be someone else. My wardrobe felt comfortable and a good representation of me and my blog. I spilled, I tripped, I laughed too loud, I tripped over my words, I sweated buckets on the dance floor and I wouldn’t change any of it. The thing that makes blogs special is that they are featuring humans, not models or mannequins. Whether it’s the rewardStyle conference or another blogging event, or an event in your everyday life… be yourself and be proud. You’re more awesome than you realize.


A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I could not wait to read your take on the conference compared to other blogs I follow. I knew you would be real and share the good and bad.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing all these details! It’s been so insightful reading your posts about the conference. I was curious to hear if most people were nice/friendly at this conference and it surprised me to see that it was the low-end retail brands that were dismissive. Why bother exhibiting at a blogger conference if you’re just going to judge people? What a waste of marketing money for them LOL. Love your outfit posts too! xo

  3. I really enjoyed following your instastories during the convention, and seeing all your outfits put together from D.C. Style! Was it me though, or did the conference seem super white and super straight sized? I really hope that the company starts to embrace the vast rest of the blogging world. it was disappointing, to say the least. Maybe it’s because I try really hard to diversify my IG feed and Blogroll that I forget about the rest of the size six fashionista world. Plus fashion and diversity are only growing in popularity, though, and it would be a poor business model for LTK to ignore them. If I’m wrong about my impression please let me know. I was just going off the backgrounds of the photos you were posting and the group shots. Thanks also for being a rep for the curvy world while you were there 🙂

    1. No, your impression was correct. Predominately white, slim, and young. The top sellers within rewardStyle were invited, they didn’t hand pick the attendees. I don’t know what goes into being invited into rewardStyle, but looking at their liketoknow.it account on Instagram. it’s predominately young, thin, and white women that are featured. This is an issue in the blogosphere with brands who don’t seek out diversity. Blogs became popular because they were a realistic alternative to models in magazines, but the blogs that make the money are the ones that look like models. I could go on and on, but my plan is to keep representing and doing what I can to promote and support diversity in blogging!

  4. Funnily enough I have been thinking about a Good Watch lately. Um… is your link to Weil working correctly??

  5. I love that dress from Modcloth. You look fabulous. Question: Is there a post somewhere with links to the other blogger buddies from the conference? I love your style and take on things but it’s impossible sometimes to find a blog for women that are over 25. Keep being fabulous!

    1. I was wondering a similar thing. I wonder if the conference put together a directory/proceedings with all the attendees info. If they didn’t they should. Other, non-fashion related conferences I have gone to always publish a printed directory and or a CD with all the presentations, attendee info. This is very helpful for reviewing presentations, contacting colleagues later.

      I have found a number of the attendees blogs simply by searching on “Rewardstyle conference” or “blogs referencing Rewardstyle conference”. I found a bunch of the “older” bloggers that way.

  6. I’ve always wondered what kind of work you do at your “day job”. And do they ever have an issue with your blogging job, blogging events, etc? You balance so much.

    Are you at all surprised by how interested your non-blogging readers are in the conference? I felt you took us along with you. It was nice to get an inside look without having to be there and be observed myself.

    OK, I’ll stop bugging you now about the conference.


  7. You look beautiful and confident in all these pics! So glad you had a chance to connect with other bloggers. It sounds fun, though exhausting.

  8. Allie,

    I was looking at Maria’s blog and noticed her url. Did she come all the way from Britain to attend the conference? That’s impressive and expensive.


    1. She did and it was her second year attending! Many visited, there were 10 nationalities at the conference. Blogging is a lucrative business, and most people who use rewardStyle find the largest percentage of their income from it. It’s a great networking and learning experience, and it IS a business expense!

  9. I am ridiculously pleased that you met Audrey and also hung out with Beth (who is more MY age).

    And Wow, what a lot of preparation went in to this conference! All the details really looked (and sounded) awesome and I loved all your commentary – thanks!

  10. Interesting that you should mention ironing. I actually love to iron. One of the fun parts of going on a trip is the ironing board and iron in the hotel/motel rooms. I can iron in peace by myself. To me, ironing is a very Zen exercise. No one would ever accuse me of being stylish, but my clothes at a conference are always freshly pressed.

    When I graduated from university, everyone buys those cheesy, graduation gowns from the bookstore. I was amazed how many people wore their gowns with the creases from the packaging showing. As awful as those gowns are, ironing improves them considerably. I don’t know how it is for everyone, but I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into getting my science degree. I was determined to present myself in the best possible light for my big day.

    I am furious that some of the reps just looked you up and down and didn’t say anything. Way to not sell their products! Such arrogance! Who the hell do they think they are, for heaven’s sake? They are brand reps at a conference, which is not a role that most of us aspire to.They are basically salespeople and not very good ones at that.


  11. I’ve just started following you and I love your style! Also, I’ve already gotten several ideas that will make my life better, although I’m no fashionista (Jockey Skimmies? never heard of them…) and I have to read that memoir now. You look fabulous and your voice is real!

  12. It has been incredibly interesting to read your accounts.
    Not that I’ll ever be big enough to be invited, but these conferences are so hard for the introvert like me. Yet the classes would be so informative and I do love meeting others on a one on one basis!!
    Thanks for letting us in on the events and scenes!!!

  13. I swear this isn’t my only takeaway from this post but I got re-interested in Joan Juliet Buck because of your post a while back and I’m just finishing The Price of Illusion and I have loved it. So, thanks for that! Anyone who loves film and fashion from the 60s, 70s and 80s would love it, I think.

  14. I loved reading about your experience at the conference. Seems like all in all, it was worth it. Love the white Camuto jacket on you by the way!!

  15. This inside view is really interesting. I’ve been to conferences before but none so chic as a Style Blogger’s. You definitely got better food, prettier settings and much more stylish attendees! It sounds like something you’d attend in the future. Your readers want you to be successful so you’ll keep on giving us great content and style tips (for free).
    And I love what you wore; you felt good and looked that way too.

  16. I have really enjoyed your posts about this conference. Its fun to learn a little about the business side of blogging, though a lot of what you said slipped in Greek for me since I’m not a blogger, lol. I did want to say, however, your Raymond Weil piece is spot on as I have worn my RW Parsifal everyday since the day my husband gave it to me in 1989. I first saw it in a display case in I. Magnin, went home and told him, ” If you never buy me another gift for as long as I live, I want that watch!” And I meant it. And, it is in my will who will inherit it; not kidding. Great series of posts, thanks!

      1. I think it falls in the category of the price tag is the least of it. There are things in everyone’s life where it will be cherished for so long the cost per use becomes nil. Thanks again for the blogging insight.

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