What to Wear to Your Summer Internship

With summer quickly approaching we begin to say goodbye to our friends on campus (sob) and begin to encounter new opportunities.  For many of us, this includes taking on summer jobs or internships.  Getting ready to leave campus you may feel like you have everything perfectly mapped out, you had the perfect cover letter, resume, interview to land this internship---whats there to worry about?  However, one thing that slips many of our minds is what to wear for our internships.

Depending on what type of field you’re interning in what is considered appropriate may vary.  Its hard to gauge what the culture is of an office is before you get there, but the most helpful tip is to dress similar to what other interns and employees are wearing.  That’s not to say that you can’t make your style original by accessorizing and adding fun colors and patterns, but as a general rule: keep it professional. 

Formal Work Environment

Typically internships under this category include fields such as Law, Finance, Government, and Consulting.  (However other offices could have an environment where this dress code is more encouraged.)  Invest in a few professional separates such as button downs, skirts, knee length dresses, and cardigans.  It’s best for internships like this to play it safe and avoid many loud colors and distracting patterns, that isn’t to say that you can’t add a more colorful handbag or a fun necklace to enhance your outfit.

As a general rule:

  • Avoid showing too much skin—cleavage isn’t for the office!
  • Make sure your skirt/dress is at an appropriate length---if you put your hands at your side your hemline should be longer than your fingertips.
  • Avoid super high heels if you choose to wear them---you don’t want to wipe out in the office.
  • Don’t wear shorts.
  • Closed toe shoes are most likely better for internships like these, though it depends what people in the office are wearing.
  • Don’t be afraid to add hints of color to your outfits by accessorizing!

Stores to shop at: J.Crew, Ann Taylor, Department Stores, Banana Republic, etc

Casual Work Environment

In more creative industries such as Fashion, Marketing, and Publication you have more freedom to express yourself.  Though in environments like this it sometimes becomes easier to seem unprofessional.  Always keep in mind the amount of skin your showing, its always better to be showing less than more.  In workplaces with a more casual dress code you can wear dressier jeans and nice tops.

As a general rule:

  • Avoid t-shirts, leggings and anything that you would wear just lounging around the house.
  • Don’t wear ripped jeans or really short shorts.
  • Express yourself through accessories.
  • Determine how casual the workplace actually is, look at what other people are wearing.  For instance, in some workplaces the employees may wear shorts, but in others that may not be socially acceptable.  Be extremely observant.

Stores to shop at: J. Crew, Gap, Madewell, Anthropologie, Abercrombie, Express

Overall, here are some general rules to follow while dressing for your summer internship:

  • Carefully consider your outfit for “Casual Fridays” if your office has one.  This doesn’t mean you can wear your favorite tee and running shorts.  In cases like this, you could opt for skinny jeans and a nice top.
  • Be kind to your feet! Opt for a pair of low heels or comfortable flats, you don’t need to wear the highest heels you own to your internship. 
  • Bring a sweater!  It may be warm outside but often times the AC in the office is going to be cranked high.  You don’t want to be freezing all day!
  • Be wary of your undergarments, always do a double-take in the mirror before you leave the house in the morning.  Especially in the summer when you are wearing more sheer fabrics you want to make sure your bra isn’t showing through your shirt. 
  • Be well groomed.  Now this isn’t to say that you should be spending hours getting ready in the morning but keep in mind that you want to look professional.  Though it may seem minor to you, chipped nail polish or messy hair makes you appear more unprofessional.  Stick to natural makeup, brushed hair and groomed nails.
  • Be observant, every workplace has a different unspoken style.  After your first few days, it’ll be easy to pick up on what others are wearing.  Follow the lead of other “veteran” employees but also don’t be afraid to express yourself though accessories.