Dressing for Success on the Job

Thu, Feb 3, 2011

Internship Information

In this post, we wrote about dressing for success during your interview.  But the real challenge is how to dress every day at your internship. You may work in a casual office where jeans are appropriate. Chose a pair that’s well-fitted and un-frayed, preferably in a dark wash. No matter what you wear, make sure it’s clean and wrinkle- free. Yes, this means you may need to buy an iron!

In some offices, jeans won’t cut it, even for interns. Remember the saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” and take wardrobe cues from junior staff members. Do they wear khakis and polo shirts? Do they wear button-downs with ties? Women should make sure their skirts are an appropriate length and their tops are not cut too low. Strike the right balance between fashionable and professional.

You may be wondering, ok, where am I supposed to get these clothes?  As an intern, you probably don’t have a lot of extra money. First, think of your wardrobe as an investment, especially if you’re a junior or senior.  Graduation is coming down the road and you’ll need office-ready outfits for your first post-college job.

Second, choose a few key pieces. Guys and girls can’t go wrong with a well-tailored pair of black pants and a long-sleeved button-down.  You can wear them separately or together. A clean pair of khakis—no cargo pockets!—can take you far. For fall and winter internships, a basic sweater in your favorite color is a great way to brighten up your internship wardrobe. And don’t forget your feet. Basic dress shoes for men (black or brown) are a good investment as are heels for women. Just try to keep them short enough so you don’t fall. Women can also punch up their work outfits with accessories. A bold necklace, funky earrings or a bright tote can add a wow factor.

Third, shop around.  Women especially can have luck at vintage and second-hand stories. One-of-a-kind pieces are a great way to make your internship wardrobe unique. If you can, hit outlets, where you can find brand-name clothes at a discount. Stores like Old Navy and Target are great places to both stock up on basics and try the latest trends for cheap.

With a little planning, you can create an internship wardrobe that’s appropriate and true to your personal style.  Work clothes don’t have to be boring.

By Danielle Bullen. Danielle is a writer and a resident of the Philadelphia area. Danielle can be reached at Daniellebullen@comcast.net.

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