How to Dress Cute for your Summer Internship on a Budget

So you've landed the internship of your dreams this summer and are starting to stress about how to dress for the job. You know what they say: "dress to impress," and you want to make sure you make a good first impression on your new co-workers. 

But wait, is the office attire business casual? What does business casual even mean? How do you come up with a new work wardrobe? How are you supposed to pay for all new clothes when you're a college student and spent all your money on Starbucks and Chipotle? *cue stress*

We all have these questions and, to be honest, it's everyone's biggest fear to walk in the office on the first day and have a "Devil Wears Prada" moment and get asked if you have a "hideous skirt convention" you have to go to.

To avoid that situation at all costs, we've rounded up 8 tips to help you build a professional work wardrobe without breaking the bank. 

1. Invest in the basics

All you need is one versatile black blazer, a pair of nice black slim-fit pants and a white blouse to have three pieces that can be worn as one single outfit or taken as three separate parts and mixed with other looks. Having basic blazers, blouses, pants, pencil skirts and shoes in neutral colors like black, white, nude and gray can instantly make your wardrobe ten times deeper. 

 

2. Go for versatile pieces that can be layered

Blouses, blazers, jackets, sweaters, cardigans, scarves and vests are all great ways to add options to each look. Chances are, if you wear a blouse one day and decide to wear that same blouse a few days later with a blazer over the top of it, no one will notice. 

3. Shop at outlets and department stores

Outlet stores are a gold mine for discounted name-brand items. A lot of times department stores will have separate stores with mark-downs and sales galore. Nordstrom Rack, Belk, Ann Taylor Factory Store, Express Factory Outlet, Loft Outlet, etc. are all great places to look for a trendy steal.

4. Search for coupons online

Sometimes if you run a Google search for a coupon to your favorite store, you'll get lucky and a code will come up. A lot of websites like Express and BCBG run sales all the time, so signing up for their email lists and keeping an eye out for their site-wide discounts will help tremendously.

5. Mix and match old outfits already in your closet 

I know, I know. A new internship makes you want to go on an extravagant shopping spree and treat yo' self to the trendiest new styles. But realistically, you probably already have several outfits that you can pull from the back of your closet and mix and match to create entire new looks. 

6. Know what you're looking for and stick to it

We have all been there. You go into H&M for one thing. ONE. Then, you come out with four pairs of shoes, three jackets, a new tank, two purses and six pairs of earrings because it was buy two get one free and you couldn't resist. Instead of letting this happen, have the mindset that you are only going in that store to get the one piece you need to complete an outfit. Focus and don't get side tracked by items you don't really need.

7. Always pick quality over quantity.

There is a reason quality items may be a little more pricey. Even though the more expensive clothes may cost you more upfront, you will save money in the long run because they will hold up longer than the cheap stuff. You will get much more wear and tear out of a blazer you bought for $50 over a blazer you got for $5, no matter how tempting it may be upfront. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

8. Spice up your look with accessories.

You will be amazed what a colored chunky necklace can do for a plain white top. Accessories are your chance to add your personality in to your office attire! Get creative and find earrings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. that show off who you are. 

Dressing the part should be the least of your worries when you take on a new intern position. Having a chic, professional wardrobe that doesn't cost you a semester of college tuition is possible. Focus on learning where to look, how to shop for the bargains, and styling versatile pieces. But above all else, be yourself and let your wardrobe show your personality. After all, no intern got hired solely because they were wearing a $700 pair of shoes.