Dress to Impress – A Guide to Being AMUN Fabulous

Some very happy AMUN staffers showing off their Western Business Attire.

The purpose of Model UN is to simulate the dialogue and diplomacy practiced at the United Nations, and the world of international diplomacy is a rather conservative place dominated by people in business suits. So it’s unsurprising that Model United Nations Conferences have dress codes that emulate (to some extent) what real-life diplomats might wear at the United Nations. Dressing the part helps create an atmosphere of realism and dressing differently from our everyday attire might transport us, mentally, into a different world. 

But these conservative dress codes for business attire don’t come without consequence. You might think the idea of “Western Business Attire” brings with it all sorts of expectations and conventions about race, gender, class, social status, ethnicity, physical ability and nationality. The whole notion may seem confining and constraining and terribly out of date. And you’re right. 

So AMUN is trying to navigate this challenge. How can we have a dress code for all participants that helps us simulate the work and environment of the United Nations while also ensuring AMUN is an inclusive, accessible space for all people where our participants’ educational needs are at the forefront? Our dress code is designed to help you be your best you! Therefore, AMUN requires all participants to dress in a professional, but still accessible and comfortable, manner. 

The AMUN Dress Code is published in full in the online AMUN Handbook. We have implemented several changes to this dress code this year to make it more inclusive of all representatives and Secretariat members. For the purpose of our simulation, 

“Western Business Attire includes a business jacket or suit, dress slacks or skirt, dress shirt, appropriate hosiery or socks and dress shoes. Appropriate accessories include ties, scarves, or formal jewelry. Keep in mind, as AMUN participants are playing the part of international diplomats, attire should be appropriate for visiting an embassy. AMUN will not consider any manner of dress appropriate that includes T-shirts, jeans, shorts, hats, athletic shoes or any form of commercial advertising.”

However, our dress code does not necessitate being boring; there is plenty of room for you to add pieces and accessories to show your personality. We encourage participants to bring their best Western Business Attire, so they’re ready to tackle the substantive problems at hand. Below is a list of some favorite dress-code friendly pieces from our AMUN Secretariat:

  • Colorful suits/jackets
  • Fun patterned socks
  • Bright ties and scarves
  • Dresses with pockets
  • Comfortable dress shoes

Does the AMUN dress code look a lot different from your day-to-day wear? Buying new suits and clothes and accessories for a four-day conference can be really expensive, and we know that lots of college students are on tight budgets. Here are some helpful tips:

Start by taking inventory of dress-code friendly clothing already in your closet. Try the clothing on to ensure that it still fits comfortably. Then, plan out four outfits, and remember you can re-use pieces on multiple days. Only have 2 jackets? Plan on wearing them on alternating days. Same can be said with shirts, pants, and pretty much all of your outerwear.  If you’re still missing pieces, make a list of what you still need. Equipped with a list and a plan, the next steps are easy (and fun!). A month or two before Conference, spend a day out with friends going to thrift stores, looking for sales at Loft, H&M, Old Navy, GAP, TJ Maxx, Lane Bryant, Roz & Ali (formerly Dressbarn) or other stores one might find at a local mall. Also check online vendors like Amazon and ThredUp and talk to other members of your MUN club/class and see if anyone has business attire they don’t wear anymore or can possibly share. In addition, many college campuses have free business wear closets to help students with job interviews and conferences, these are generally housed under the career services office. The most important thing is to do your wardrobe planning long before Conference to ensure enough time to feel comfortable and look good in business attire.

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