Travel & Packing

AICI Conference-The Business of Style

4 Amazing Days of Style, Friendship, and Education!

Happy day, reader dear!

My apologies if you commented last week, and I was slow to respond. I was in Chicago for the AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) Global Conference. It was my first conference, and thus had absolutely no idea what to expect… And packing to spend half a week with the most experienced and well known in the business can add just a little pressure to get it right!

I was excited about the trip, but not only for the conference. I grew up about two hours north of Chicago, and Lake Michigan was an everyday part of my life. It was not until I moved away that I realized how much of an influence the lake had on where I feel “at home” and comfortable. I found myself teary-eyed as we approached the city. Lake Michigan is one of the reasons I always feel so at home on a coast. I know that sounds odd, but LM isn’t your average lake. It’s vast and deep; you can’t see across it, AND it creates its own weather patterns. (That’s a serious body of water…)

It’s been almost 30 years since I’ve been home to the Midwest, and being back just felt so right. Chicago is an energetic and vibrant city, with a beautiful downtown AND a lakefront. Yes, winters there are often brutal, but spring is a wonderful time to visit! I flew in a day early to revisit downtown. I spent a good portion of the day at the Art Institute of Chicago, soaking up some culture. You name it, they have it! Sculpture, stained glass, painting, ancient, medieval, classical, impressionist, modern, post-modern…

After the museum we walked to the lakefront to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. My poor companion, Valeria, was freezing… Not only is she from Brazil and accustomed to a much warmer climate, she had arrived that same morning and was exhausted. (Never good for temperature control!)

The conference began on Thursday, and to say I was star-struck by the style and image luminaries I had the opportunity to meet would be putting it mildly. I have been reading and following some of these women for years… Not only is the conference a time to meet and mingle, but it’s also a time to learn more about our business, refresh best practices, learn what’s new, and see some amazing style. Our opening keynote was Lyn Slater of Accidental Icon, a brilliant academician, and fascinating woman with an open mind and curious spirit!

Lyn Slater, seated left: Nena Ivon, seated right.

Nena Ivon was our closing keynote speaker. Her wealth of experience in retail and fashion has given her stories to spare! I’d love to sit down with her over a bottle of wine to hear just a few… And I’d certainly like to know how she managed to keep her composure in the fashion show biosphere. Talk about high stress!

Lest you think it was all play and no work, each day was packed with educational sessions by industry specialists, giving us the opportunity to improve our skills, learn new techniques, and brainstorm with other image professionals.

That’s me and the fabulous Wendy Packer of Fashion Over Fifty studying others’ first impressions of us… Humbling and powerful!

Friday, we were blessed with a truly global perspective—a fashion show featuring local designers curated by conference attendees. Our image colleagues modeled all the looks, from daywear to wedding style!

Saturday night was the gala and awards. What an evening! My trainer and coach Imogen Lamport won the prestigious Jane Segerstrom Award, for furthering the worldwide association and image consulting industry and vision. Well deserved!

Congratulations, Imogen!

The dinner and awards were followed by oodles of photo ops, and even more dancing… Meet some of my new friends: Katherine Lazaruk, Sue Donnelly, Alette Winckler, and Tanya Meade. (Yes, you do see Brenda Kinsel and Sarah Hathorne in the background of the bottom picture!)

By the end of Sunday, I’d made new friends, crammed my brain full of new ideas and ways of thinking, and was ready to come home renewed and inspired! I can’t wait for 2021… In Dallas!

I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone and something! I’ll correct and add as needed. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments…

Stylishly yours,


  • Ruth Baxter

    I’m intrigued – were you really given an opportunity to know other people’s first opinions of you? If so, could you share more of what you learned from that exercise in a post?

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for visiting, Ruth! It really was fascinating. I must admit I was a bit nervous, but it turned out to be a great experience. The presenter was careful to be very clear about parameters and appropriate and inappropriate shares. Thank you for the post idea! Maybe something about how others see us…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.