Internships in marketing, PR, management, nonprofit, advertising, or education:
If you’re not interning in a super high-powered corporate environment, chances are your dress code is business casual. This applies to almost any internship in marketing, advertising, PR, nonprofits, education…the list goes on and on. Unlike in a corporate environment, a business casual dress code really gives you the chance to display your personal style, and there’s lots more wiggle room for what you can wear. But that doesn’t mean you can waltz into the office in your denim cutoffs and an American Apparel V-neck! Business casual is all about taking things you wear at school and giving them a professional twist.
This chiffon midi dress, for example, works perfectly for class or a party now, and for your internship in a few weeks. With a black belt and white blazer it looks professional but not stuffy, and a great pair of heels, fun necklace, and slouchy bag keep it cool. Adding a polished jacket allows you to play around more with accessories without looking too casual. For any intern, a well-cut blazer in a neutral color like white is an amazing investment for the summer—you’ll wear it at least twice a week, and it goes with a dress, skirt, or pants!
Some more tips for business casual internships:
- Shorter skirts are okay, but stay away from minis—and definitely stay away from tight skirts. Leave your bandage skirt for the club!
- A colorful scarf is a great way to add some flair to a plain white button-down—and it’s a lot cheaper than a necklace!
- Stay away from jersey. It’s a little too casual and clingy for the office. Try cotton, twill, chiffon, silk, or linen instead—a change of material will make your outfit much more polished.
- Stay away from tight shirts and low-cut tank tops.
- Floral sundresses are too casual on their own, but perfect with a tailored jacket.
- Flat sandals? Totally okay. Flip flops? Not at all.
Nicole, who worked as a marketing intern for Sushi Samba, suggests buying a few classic separates and spicing them up with accessories to add your own personal flair. “I wore really classic clothes, like floral skirts with summer blouses and blazers or khakis and silk buttondowns, and added my favorite shoes, bags, belts and scarves to make them more interesting,” she says.
Internships in media, magazines, design, fashion, and fashion PR:
A creative internship in TV. newspapers, magazines, web, design or fashion calls for a creative dress code. No need for shapeless jackets and tailored trousers here; at a creative internship, the goal is to look as cool as possible while remaining put-together. You still want to look like you’re ready to tackle any task in front of you with confidence, but it’s important that you let your personal style shine through, too. Don’t be afraid to break out that romper in your closet, or that crazy pair of bright orange wedges—where at a corporate internship your bold fashion choices would earn you some shifty looks, in a creative environment you’ll win your colleagues’ admiration! If you don’t have a closet full of designer duds, don’t worry—your best bet is to mix your favorite basics with bolder pieces and interesting accessories. A simple pair of cropped pants, like these khakis from J-Crew, are a perfect backdrop to a fashionable printed blouse and cool, modern accessories. Here, the structured bag dresses up the more relaxed espadrilles, while stacking rings makes the outfit more funky and grown-up. Trade in structured cotton buttondowns for more relaxed, sheer chiffon or silk versions—they’ll make your outfit more relaxed while keeping your look professional. And don’t be afraid to play with textures—a floaty floral dress looks awesome with a denim jacket, for example, or a pair of white jeans with an open-knit cropped sweater adds a laid-back but professional vibe.
Some more tips for creative dressing:
Wedges are your friend—if you’re going to be running around a lot as a creative intern (Starbucks runs, anyone?) you’ll need shoes that mix style with comfort, and wedges are a lot less hard on your feet than stilettos.
Just because you can be fashionable doesn’t mean you can dress like you’re going-out: low-cut tops, miniskirts, and totally see-through stuff with no tank under are still not okay.
Denim is totally fine—just dress it up with a pair of heels and a cute top!
You can even rock sequins at the office—try a sequined blazer or cardigan, but leave the sparkly sequined dress or skirt for going out.
The best way to make a plain outfit like jeans and a white tee pop is adding a statement necklace or scarf—and an awesome pair of shoes!
Jen, who worked as an intern at Harper’s Bazaar last summer, says your best bet to keep it cool at a fashion internship is to hold on to your own style. “I didn’t try to compete with the fashionistas at my office, but I wore my own clothes with cool heels or trendy flat sandals every day, and bought a couple cool, put-together blouses, dresses, printed skirts and cropped pants to rotate.”