How to Accessorize and Dress for a Model UN Conference
In the courtroom, cases can be won or lost based on how a person dresses. In a Model UN committee, how you, as a Model United Nations delegate, dress is just as important. You are representing a country as delegates to the UN, so they should look professional and ready to get serious work done. Like it or not, the first thing other delegates and committee chairs will see is how the you look. Your attire can affect the entire mood of a committee session.
Making sure you have the appropriate attire for the conference. Dressing in business attire can be stressful for some.. High School students already stress about how they look on a daily basis. They will also stress about how they will look at the conference. Start planning well before the conference so that each you can get the appropriate clothing in a timely manner. This is not something you want to be dealing with at the last minute. As discussed in our article, fashion is a big deal at Model UN conferences.
Your MUN conference will most likely call for “western business attire.” This is not very descriptive, so we have broken down what you need to prepare for. You have to pack an entire wardrobe. They can bring a few of each item and mix and match to make many different outfits. When dressing for the Model UN, breath in, breath out, think business casual and follow the steps in this article to make sure your does not deter, and only enhances your Model UN performance.
How to Dress to be Formal and Impress
- Have one or two
- Darker colors such as black and dark blue work best
- Make sure they fit properly
- No t-shirts under the suit jacket
- Bring three or four of different colors
- Bring a few that go well with the shirts
- Professional ties
- Dark colors work best, though khaki color is acceptable if matching with shirts
- Dress pants only. No jeans or shorts
- Loafers or other dress shoes only
- Do not wear sneakers or sandals
- Darker colors are best
- Have a clean hair cut
- Keep hair clean
- Keep any facial hair trimmed and looking neat
Tips from the Pros: For Guys
- Instead of packing a tux, reuse your black suit for the formal night. A black bowtie and white shirt should be enough for more not to notice.
- If your conference is in a hot place, wear an undershirt. Nothing turns off other delegates like seeing someone sweat through their clothing. Dress shirts are thin and sweat through easily. This extra layer will keep you presentable for hours at a time in the hottest places.
- Wear black sports socks. Some dress shoes can be painful and black sports socks will cushion your feet making it easier to run around with less pain.
Here you will find some visuals to proper dress for men. Remember, think business.
Female Model UN Fashion Guide
Female fashion is a bit more difficult than men’s. It’s more than just suit tops, pants, and a tie. We know that women have a bit more to keep track of when it comes to fashion, and we want to help. As with males, females must be dressed professionally. After this list, you will find some links to visuals of good examples of female MUN fashion.
- They can be expensive but can also be a good investment
- Can be used beyond Model UN
- Make sure it fits properly
- For when you don’t need a whole suite
- Blazers go well with dress pants and dress skirts
- Ensure a good, comfortable fit
Blouses/Button Up Shirt
- Bring a few for variety
- Can use to mix and match colors with a blazer
- Dark colors work best, though khaki color is acceptable if matching with shirts and blazer
- Dress pants only. No jeans or shorts
- Should be knee-length
- Pencil and A-line skirts go well with a blazer
- Can be substituted for pants with the rest of the outfits
- Wear for comfort, not style
- High heels will become a burden
- No sandals or sneakers
- Have should be neat and out of the face
- Use a business style
- Here are 20 business hairstyles for women
- Necklace and earrings are acceptable
- Make sure they are not too flashy
- Simple and professional
- Use neutral colors
Tips from the Pros: For Girls
- Use a large tote. You need a big enough bag to fit your laptop and research binder.
- Bring a sweater or cardigan. You never know how cold the committee will be.
- Bring a pair of flats. Ideally, wear your flats to and from the committee. Heels can hurt after a long day and you can easily fit them into your tote.
- Makeup kit. Model UN sessions can take hours. Have a small touch up kit in your tote and do a quick makeup run, at least during lunch break. Coming back fresh while wear and tear shows on others can go a long way.
Here you will find an entire Pinterest board dedicated to female fashion at the Model UN.
Dressing Strategically for the Situation
Remember that Model UN is a simulation of diplomacy. Diplomacy goes far beyond actual words spoken at a formal session. It is more than negotiating at an unmoderated caucus. Everything a delegate says and does indicates a meaning. Their body language matters and so does their dress.
Your students will always be in character at the conference and sometimes this will require them to look the part. In formal moderated committee sessions, your students will always need to be in full dress. They will have to speak to the chair and the group as a whole, so they have to look professional. Unmoderated caucuses offer an opportunity to convey different messages with wardrobes.
If a situation is becoming tedious and your student needs to convey that they are stressed, they can loosen the tie a bit and perhaps ruffle the hair towards the end of a long day. There is no problem with loosening the tie a bit during a caucus. This is where the “dirty work” gets done. Think of movies you’ve seen when serious negotiations are taking place. As the situation goes on, the suit jackets hit the chairs and the sleeve buttons get unbuttoned. Remember, though, when a delegate needs to convey a serious, down to business tone, they should be crisp and neat.
There have been many psychological studies about the use of colors in different situations. Some ideas of emotions associated with colors and go according to the following lines.
- Red shows confidence and power but that you are a risk-taker
- Blue shows peace, honesty, and trustworthiness
- Orange is social but sometimes less serious
- Dark green and purple show relaxation and calm
- Black conveys authority and power
- White sends a message of simplicity and goodness
Commonly asked questions:
What is western business attire?
It is a formal mode of dress meant to express seriousness and reverence. It consists of a darker colored suit jacket (such as black or navy blue), collared, button-down shirt (aim for solid colors), dark, dress pants (khaki is sometimes appropriate), and loafers or other dress shoes, preferably dark as well. Hair should be clean-cut, professional, and facial hair should be neatly trimmed.
What does western business attire consist of for men?
Men should dress in a dark suit jacket, collared, button-down shirt, dress pants and loafers or some other kind of dress shoe (dark as well). For men, facial hair should be neatly trimmed, hair should be clean-cut and professional. Men should aim to wear an undershirt to prevent any sort of sweat to be visible. Men should also try to wear black sports socks so their feet are comfortable in the dress shoes they are wearing.
What does western business attire consist of for women?
Women can wear a female suit, or a blazer with a button-up, collared shirt, and dress skirt or dress pants. Women are encouraged to mix up colors for their blouses/button-up shirts. Pants should be dark, and dress only. Khaki is sometimes acceptable. Skirts should be knee-length, and pencil or a-line skirts go best with blazers. Shoes should be comfortable; high heels are meant for style, but aren’t professional. Hair should be up and out of the face. Jewelry and makeup should not be excessive. Necklaces, earrings, and neutral color makeup are most preferred.
There are a few keys to be taken away for Model UN delegates:
– Bring enough variety so different outfits can be coordinated
– Weigh the situation and decided what will work best for the day
– If things change, go change your tie or shirt
Many conferences will have a formal or dance as part of the event. You will be told ahead of time what kind of dress is required. Sometimes it will be a black-tie event or theme, but more often than not it will be a casual dance. Delegates may be able to use much of what they wore to the conference. Females may want to have a nice dress for the occasion. This is not anything like a prom, so there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars. The formals are a time for everyone to relax and get to know one another. It won’t be like the committee sessions when the business never ends. If the host team does not send instructions about special wear for the formal, be sure to ask ahead of time.
Sharing is Caring
Some students have scholarships and some countries in Europe have free schooling. In such cases, some participants may not be able to afford the required clothing; no student should feel embarrassed about not being able to afford the ‘proper’ clothing. One of the best things about Model UN societies is the comradery; if you need clothing, ask your society president, it is likely they’ve dealt with this before. They can probably arrange for you to can borrow outfits, or they also might have a collection at hand for such cases. If you are the one with excess clothing, and want to help someone in need, ask your society president.
It is always a good idea to bring extras. During the conference, someone might need a bow tie for the formal or a matching pair of heels. Bringing a few extra key items won’t weigh too much and can help a teammate in need.
Watch this quick, fun video from some Model UN students about proper dress. As you can see from the article and links, fashion is going to matter at the conference. It is important for students to wear the right thing. This matters for Model UN and for most activities your students will be involved in, both in high school and after. Learning how to dress in proper attire is another skill students gain from this experience. It helps to teach professionalism. Western business attire can be a confusing thing to understand, but we hope we’ve made it a bit easier.