Monday, April 21, 2014

Internship Basics

As a huge believer in dressing how you want to feel, I wanted to write a post about what are the best things to wear for internships, what combinations are good and how to put your best foot forward. Being an engineer, we have to get internships to get good full-time job offers. It's also nice to experiment with what we might be interested in as well as seeing what different companies have to offer you. I start shopping  for clothing before my internship starts to try and find clothes that will fit the environment.

My summer internship this year is at a food company, where I will be on the plant floor as well as in an office. Due to safety restrictions, I have to wear closed toe shoes, pants or bring a change of pants,and  no jewelry on the floor. These restrictions mean that I need different clothes that I am used to wearing. Regardless of my special circumstances, these are the main things I think you need to have to have a functional and fun wardrobe for the summer. 

Internship Basics

  • Cardigans - especially crew neck cardigans look great for work. You can layer them over blouses in a colder office or tuck them into skirts for a fun top.Get some fun colors like red or cobalt blue and then some basic ones like navy or black. Patterned cardigans are also great for rainy days and you need a little something to pep you up. Great stores for cardigans that have lasted me a while are Target, Gap and J Crew.
  • Blouses are a great investment piece for work and beyond. You can wear them out after work, on the weekend with chino shorts, tucked into skirts and with jeans on casual Friday. I called blouses the t-shirt for work. You cannot go wrong with one! I suggest long sleeve or sleeveless. Short sleeve blouses can bunch up under sweaters and it looks unprofessional. I tend to pick up blouses from any store I visit but I love all the blouses I have gotten at H+M.
  • Buttondown shirts are key. They look great under a suit, tucked into a skirt or with jeans on casual Friday. I have several in fun colors like purple and pink and I love a black button down with skinny pants. Make sure the bust fits well and you don't have a bulge when you tuck it in because it is too large on the bottom. Many of my busty friends get the shirt in a bigger size and tailor it to fit perfectly. I get all of my button downs from Old Navy and Jcpenney because I have long arms.
  • Shoes - buy good shoes and your feet will thank you. You walk around the office, plant floor and city and you will notice what other people have on their feet. I prefer something dressier for the office but don't be afraid to experiment with color. Just make sure your heel high is less than 4 inches and that  your shoes do not include a huge platform. I pick up flats from everywhere but my favorite flats are from Target. Good price for the quality and they have a ton of colors and styles.
  • Pencil skirts are my favorite work clothing piece. I have so many different colors and styles. I love a grey skirt because it goes with everything. You can wear a skirt with a t-shirt for a more casual look, with a blouse for business casual or with a suit jacket as a cute skirt suit. My rule of thumb with pencil skirts is to be no more than 3 inches above your knee. Also be very careful about fit - your skirt should skim your curves not cup them. All of my pencil skirts are from Target and Forever 21. 
  • Skinny pants look great on everyone. They are almost like wearing leggings but look much better. I like darker colors and patterns for a sleek look. I try to pair them with nice flats or with pointy heels for a classy look. I have skinny pants for NY&Co as well as Old Navy and J Crew. Whatever fits your body best is the ones to buy. If you have wider hips, I suggest a straight leg pant for the same effect but much more slimming on your body shape.
  • Blazers instantly make whatever you decide to wear business formal. I like to keep a blazer on the back of my cubicle chair for meetings because you never know who could be at the meeting - like a upper level VP or CEO. I also like to wear them with jeans and a blouse for casual Friday or with skinny pants for a casual suit. My blazers are mainly from H+M and JcPenney.
  • Trenchcoats are the best outerwear for summer internships. It's classier than a jean jacket and it will look good in the rain. I have a tan trenchcoat and I wear it all the time. I got my trench for NY&Co but I love the ones from J Crew or Kate Spade. (It's an investment!)
  • Nice Quality Work Bag is a must, You will be schlepping a lot of papers back and forth, possibly a work issued laptop, plus lunch and snacks. I have several bags I rotate including a purple Longchamp, a camel colored satchel and a brown legal tote. Make sure you get it in the color family you wear the most if you invest in just one.
  • Simple Jewelry is a good choice on your part. I like to wear simple necklaces or pearls to work. I will wear a statement necklace to work with a plain blouse and a suit jacket. I always try to wear jewelry in the same color family - gold or silver - to work. It's not the place to be mix metals and do something eccentric. 
Hopefully, this list of tips and items can help you look and feel your best at your internship. Don't be afraid to mix and match but be mindful of the environment you work in. Engineering corporate culture is different than fashion or banking. Look towards your boss or ask an HR person what is best to wear at work before you leave for your internship. 

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