Professional and stylish yet not too frivolous was the goal. I felt that it looked good and didn't give it another thought.....till the post banquet outdoor bar party. I sat down near a few other women I had met earlier in the week and scanned the nametags of others in our little circle. One guys name was very familiar, due to being very famous. Like, read-his-papers-my-first-year famous*. We chat and in addition to telling me that he really enjoyed my talk he also mentions that I ... 'had on a really smart dress.' Of course, this started the whole conversation of how the often-outdoors-based-research we do influences how we dress. Personally, I appreciate getting dressed up- or even just dressed in 'business casual' and am happy for opportunities to do so. Not everyone agrees. The Grackle is very much of the mindset that his work is the same whether or not he is wearing matching socks**.
I know that we shouldn't judge based on appearance... but we do. Depending on your subfield, a suit for an interview is either required or laughable. Despite my concern for dress at conferences/teaching/tests this was the first time that it was really verified that someone important took notice of me because of how I presented myself.
I always thought it mattered and well, there you go. Weird. And it sort of makes me want to go shopping.....
*I'm still kicking myself for being intimidated and not talking to him very much. Really thought I was over that by now.
**which, don't worry, he usually does.