Yes, you guys: I finally did something mildly interesting. I went to a conference. In Ottawa. It was my first time in our nation’s capital, and it was great. I have the Instagram pictures to prove it, and the bathroom selfies to … prove I wore clothes while doing it, I suppose. And now you’ll get to hear aaaaall about it.

First of all, may I just say: getting away for three kid-free days is blissful. In theory. But between adjusting to a new routine (like, say, waking up without my usual “alarm clocks”), and worrying about how everyone was coping without me at home (short answer: just fine), it wasn’t nearly as blissful as I anticipated. With that said, don’t cry for me Argentina; I got a good chunk of personal reading time, a lovely hotel bed all to myself, yummy food eaten sitting down, some sightseeing, and even a bit of shopping done. Oh yeah … and I learned a bunch of (work related) things. Work is boring, so let’s talk about clothes instead.

First, the packing.

I wanted to enjoy the full benefits of traveling solo, and that included packing light and eliminating the need to check luggage. This went against my instinct to pack All The Things (just in case). But I persevered; I knew that my hotel was immediately adjacent to the biggest mall in town, so I figured I had the worst case scenario covered. In total, I packed 13 items, including shoes and my plane outfit.

packing for work conference
everything but the shoes and coat

Can we take a moment and marvel at the fact that I only took 2 pairs of shoes with me? If that doesn’t win the award for Unlikeliest Thing You’ll Ever Read On This Blog, then we need to run a re-count. I packed my trusty black wedge pumps (comfortable for potentially endless networking events, stylish enough for day- and nighttime wear) plus my equally trusty Ecco boots (comfortable for traveling and sightseeing). That was it. No fancy shoes. Nothing sparkly, nothing colourful. ‘Twas a miracle, I tell you.

But something went terribly wrong: after taking the photo above, I somehow forgot to pack my Yoana Baraschi jacket. This I didn’t realize until I checked into my Ottawa hotel and unpacked. Since the jacket was the centerpiece of my second conference day outfit, I had a bit of a problem on my hands. And I had no handy solution, since I had deliberately under-packed, and had no alternate outfits on hand. As it was, my options were (a) wearing my “plane outfit” sweater, or (b) trying to find something at the mall. More on that in a moment.

My husband’s cousin lives in Ottawa, and he kindly offered to act as my guide. I spent my last afternoon in town sightseeing (and visiting family) and it was super fun.

Ottawa Byward market
Le Moulin de Provence in Byward Market – I can highly recommend the cherry strudel
Notre Dame church Ottawa
Notre Dame church
Ottawa National Gallery
National Gallery
Ottawa Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill – Centre Block
Parliament Hill Ottawa East Block
Parliament Hill – East Block (my favourite)
Ottawa Parliament Hill Centre Block
Parliament Hill Centre Block entrance
Ottawa Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada – impressive, but not nearly as pretty as East Block
Ottawa National War Memorial
National War Memorial

Ok, enough about me. Let’s talk about my clothes. {har, har}

My excursion into Rideau Centre was a disaster. Compared to West Ed Mall, or even Chinook Mall in Calgary, Rideau Centre is small-ish. Nonetheless, on Black Friday (the day I happened to need to shop for a replacement outfit), it was packed to the gills. The sales were mediocre, but that didn’t even matter. At J. Crew, I couldn’t find anything in my size; everything was size 0 or 2. At Banana Republic, the line for the changing rooms was about an hour long. After that, I gave up. I went and walked around the Byward Market instead to get away from the madness, and decided to just make the best of it with the clothes I already had. Thankfully, the second day of the conference had a short, morning-only programme, and I didn’t have to parade around in my makeshift outfit for very long. Speaking of which – ready for those bathroom selfies?

plane outfit; J. Crew butterfly sweater
Plane outfit – there & back
conference outfit; travel capsule; work conference outfit
conference, day #1
conference outfit; travel capsule; work conference outfit
fancy dinner outfit (conference related) – I ended up wearing this dress with black opaque tights & boots instead
conference outfit; travel capsule; work conference outfit
conference, day #2
conference outfit; travel capsule; work conference outfit
sightseeing/casual outfit

And there you have it: the ups and downs of a work travel capsule. Au revoir, Ottawa!

9 Comments on The One Where I Go to a Conference

  1. Love the sweater with the butterflies too! I like what you’ve done with the floral sweatshirt – I think the blue check shirt is one of the best matches yet.

    When you packed, did you pack in outfits for the events you planned, or did you pick sort of a theme (ie stripes) and then build your outfits around the theme? I often find myself doing the latter, as I don’t always know what I’ll be doing when I’m away. So everything goes (say, blue and stripes) but I don’t necessarily know what I’ll be wearing to what.

    • I planned around the events because I knew what I would be doing, and it was a short trip. I find that easier than planning around a theme, although that’s probably more versatile. I also sometimes plan around individual pieces I want to take, but that can be the most difficult approach to take if you want to keep things minimalist.

  2. Oooooh I love Ottawa! I think you picked your outfits very well, too bad for the blazer, but you looked great anyway. i can’t wait to go to a work related event next October to be able to sleep the whole night…

    • I won’t lie, that part of it was great. I hope work sends me to this conference again next year … and not just because of the perks; I actually learned some things too 😉