What to Wear: The Intern

For many college students, entry to the professional workforce is granted through an internship.  Whether she is driving stars to and from a movie set as a production assistant, creating a killer presentation as a research intern, or laying out articles as an apprentice at a magazine, the intern has got to look her best.  It's easy to relax into a lazy haze of tees and tanks, but when the time comes for your boss to write you a letter of recommendation or to pick an intern to work a special assignment, you want the image that comes to her mind to be a polished, professional, and creative one!  Keeping in mind that many internships are either for school credit only or completely uncompensated, here are a few affordable basics that will carry you through this internship and beyond!



The Blazer

Blaze a trail to success in a sleek and simple one-button blazer.  This statement piece can give structure to a flowy top, dress up a jersey knit, and step up a more casual dress.  Roll the sleeves up for a ¾-length effect to keep those wrists free for some statement bangles!  Leave the jacket unbuttoned to lengthen the line of your outfit and look taller (and more in-charge!) or pair it with a bold necklace for some appropriately funky office flare.  This simple investment piece (I found this one for less than $30 at an Urban Outfitters sale!) can be worn multiple days a week at your internship and then be brought into the classroom for those days when you need a little fashion boost to feel on point!



The Go-To Top

For those days when you just want to roll out of bed and throw on an old tee – don’t!  Make sure that you have something on-hand to quell your comfort cravings and keep you looking chic and polished at the same time!  When a button-down shirt is just too much work (and, hey, some days it really is), keep your closet stocked with some simple knit tops in fun cuts with eye-catching patterns.  These can be dressed up for work with jewelry and a cardigan or blazer, but they can also be paired with skinny jeans and boots for a day in class.  This go-to basic won’t take a supersized bite out of your budget; I found this crew-neck high-low striped jersey knit top at Anthropologie for less than $20!


The Trouser Jean

What is the summer intern to do when another day in slacks feels like a death sentence?  Most professional workplaces allow jeans on casual Fridays, and many permit a clean-cut dark-wash trouser jean all week long!  These trouser jeans from Gap were about $60 and have been worth every penny.  Dress denim up with a blazer or polished cardigan for a trip to your internship, or pair them with a school-spirit tee for a cute and casual day at class.



The Femme Flats

As the intern you will be moving around a lot; whether it’s running incessant coffee errands, delivering notes between company departments, or those numerous trips to the copy room, you are going to be on your feet.  Leave those party-pumps at home and opt for a sensible femme flat.  Check these carefully for fit and break them in before your first day at work.  These flats came from an Urban Outfitters sale for less than $15 and have been worn to the company office and to the classroom.  Look for a pair in a bright hue to add a pop of color to your outfit and try to invest in a second pair in a neutral shade for those days when you don’t want to have to think about matching (may I suggest coffee brown?  It could disguise some of those inevitable coffee-errand casualties…).


The Bag

Your trusty backpack might have to stay at home this summer, as it screams out, “student,” which is completely suited to campus life, but not as much to the world of the workplace.  Opt instead for a fashionable tote with plenty of padding in the straps to take a little weight off of your shoulders.  Make sure to pick a bag that comfortably holds your laptop and a binder and has plenty of internal pockets for your cellphone, daily planner, and other necessities!  This Vera Bradley tote ran about $65 on sale and has been lugged to work, the library, study groups, and the gym!


This internship, put your best foot forward – but make sure that foot has a cute shoe on it, first!  Scour your closet at home and do a little investing in some classic workwear basics and you'll leave a lasting impression in everyone’s mind as the most polished and professional intern in the office!