Suit up: Choose the perfect internship wardrobe

Kaylee Delacy

With the semester winding down and summer approaching, many of us are getting antsy for that elusive three month break.  While some students will be relaxing in the sunshine, there are many ISU students who are gearing up for their next task — a summer internship.  Internships are a great opportunity for anyone looking to amp up their resume, visit new places and meet new people.

As excited as we may be for this next step in our professional journeys, we know that a common concern among future interns lies within the dress code.  Even if the company is clear about their environment, it can be hard for an intern to find their place.

“Should I be more casual since I’m just an intern, or should I be dressing for the future job I want?” you may ask.

Fitting in with the company dress code can be a tricky thing.  We’ve found that you should play it safe for the first week, erring on the side of too formal rather than too casual.  Observe what your peers and supervisors wear and follow suit.  Until you have the chance to observe, here is a general idea of what acceptable intern-wear is for your first few days on the job.

Business formal internship

In a formal environment, one definitely needs to be cautious about color and cut.  It’s better to play it safe — after all, you are dressing more for your peers than for yourself.  Go for a tailored, single-breasted blazer.  Pair it with a pair of slim, bootcut dress pants or a knee-length pencil skirt.  Be sure to wear a modest top under your blazer, such as a lightweight blouse or button-down.  Slip into your most comfortable pair of black flats or pumps, and get ready to be on your feet all day.

Business casual internship

Business casual can be especially tricky since it’s very subjective depending on the company.  To be safe, it’s better to dress one step below business formal.  It’s best to go with dress pants and skirts and pair them with different types of blouses and cardigans.  In this environment, it’s much safer to play with color, but don’t let it be distracting.  As a rule of thumb, wear 75 percent neutrals, with only 25 percent color.

Fashion internship

Depending on the company, they may want you to dress formally or in all black to fit the brand image.  If you happen to be in a more casual environment, you can have a bit of fun with it.  It’s okay to wear trendier, edgier styles, but remember to still look polished.  If you don’t look put together, you won’t be taken seriously.  Feel free to let personal style show through while still representing the company.  For example, if jeans are acceptable, don’t wear any distressed pairs.  Keep tops modest and leave the shorts and bandage skirts at home.