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Packing for TED

Posted by: TED Guest Author

Tomorrow I head down to Monterey for the TED conference.  I look forward to TED all year.  It is a fantastic chance to catch up with old friends, meet some really interesting new ones and exercise my brain and my imagination.  But, as with TEDs of the past, I find myself stuck — I am at a loss for what to pack.  Not because the weather is unpredictable (although Monterey in March is a bit unpredictable).  Rather, I find myself thinking, "What does one wear to meet Paul Simon?"  "What does one wear to meet President Clinton?"  "What does one wear to meet John Maeda?"  Perhaps I’m the only one asking myself these questions, but I’m guessing not.  It would be hard to think that how one dresses is irrelevant at a conference with "design" in its name.

The only guidance the TED organization gives you is this — "Dress code, as ever, is casual."  OK, so I can rule out my tuxedo.  But that leaves a whole lot of other possible outfits.  If I were to meet with Larry Lessig, I would likely dress differently than if I were to meet with Will Wright.  If I were to meet with EO Wilson, I would likely dress differently than if I were to meet with Maira Kalman.  If I were to meet with Richard Branson, I would likely dress differently than if I were to meet with Tracy Chapman.  So you can see my conundrum. 

What is appropriate dress for the TED conference?  One thing is for certain.  The answer to this question appears to be different for pretty much every TEDster.  Which, I suppose, should give me some comfort.  And, yet, it does not.  It just means that the possibilities are endless.  Where’s Carson Kressley when I need him?  I suppose I have no choice but to pack up and head south to Monterey.  TED is upon us.  But please don’t judge me, Kareem Abdul-Jabar — I know not what to wear to meet basketball royalty.