Cannes Lions

Here's What to Pack and Wear for Cannes

Ad Age Asks Experts Which Fashion Travels Best From the Palais to the Croisette

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Ah, the Riviera in June. It's the time of year when your buttoned-up coworkers, bosses and bosses' bosses expose their toes, knees and, in some notorious cases, just about everything that doesn't fit into a Speedo. When you trek miles in the heat across cobblestone terrain and traverse slippery yacht floors. And when your struggle to find the perfect day-to-night outfit repeats itself for seven days and nights.

These are the first-world problems of the lucky crew heading to the Cannes Lions festival. But don't despair; Ad Age is here to help you figure out what to pack, with advice from Cannes vets and a Refinery29 style expert.

In a word: dresses! They're easy to pack and throw on. And if styled well -- simple with flats during the day and jazzed up with a statement necklace and heels at night -- they can work from dusk to dawn. For the most comfortable and flattering style in the heat, women should think about a more modern silhouette than a shift dress, said Refinery29 Style Director Connie Wang. High-necked halter and racerback dresses show off bronzed shoulders while hiding inappropriate cleavage for a summery-yet-professional neckline. "That's the sort of style that's not too swingy and all over place."

Two-tier dresses that give the illusion of a crop top and skirt are also great for eating big lunches on the Rue d'Antibes.

When it gets chilly, jackets without lapels -- moto-zip or blazer style -- are more casual than suiting but still appropriate, and neutral colors like black and white can go with anything, she added.

And in Cannes, business-casual can be casual-casual. "Women -- who are rarely separated from their sleek black pants anywhere beyond La Croisette -- dredge up yacht-worthy frocks -- day and evening," said Gail Heimann, president of Interpublic Group of Cos.' PR shop Weber Shandwick.

When it comes to feet, stay comfortable. Flat slides are good for meetings on the beach and on land, said Ms. Wang. "They give you a nice long leg-line and mimic the look of heels," she said. "It's a shoe you won't feel tragic about taking off at the beach."

Still, running around in humidity can be hard on the feet, no matter how low the heel. Marla Kaplowitz, North American CEO of WPP media agency MEC, recommends Band-Aid Blister Block. Also be prepared for change in temperatures and temperament, she said. "Stick with basics, so accessories [e.g. scarf, sweater and purse] match easily and you don't have to bring so many options," she said.

For men, the yacht-worthy wear Ms. Heimann referenced can be dangerous. Ms. Heimann recalls a dinner last year in which one exec chose a "Nantucket-optimized pair of Kelly green shorts with a blazer." Not a bad look, but the maitre d' said an emphatic non to the shorts in the restaurant. The solution? "My colleague traded his short pants with the driver's long ones," she said.

"Most of the year I'll be making fun of men wearing capri pants, but that week I'll find myself wearing stuff like that," said JWT Chief Creative Officer Jeff Benjamin. "I'm stocking up on floral pants. They're in this year. Everyone is making fun of me for it."

Mr. Benjamin's go-to's are shorts and T-shirts during the day and versatile jackets and blazers to wear throughout the week. He recommends linen shirts and he plans on rocking a straw Panama hat this year.
Guys should find most of what they need at Banana Republic and Theory, he said.

What not to wear
Flip-flops. Save them for the shower.

Mandals. Nobody wants to see big hairy toes!

Large leather totes. You'll sweat on them and feel gross.

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