Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tips and Trends: 10 Wardrobe Essentials for Summer Interns

10 Essentials for a Summer Internship

1) J. Crew, 2) J. Crew, 3) J. Crew
4) J. Crew 5) J. Crew, similar style on UK site here, 6) Banana Republic, 7) Banana Republic
8) L.K. Bennett in US and UK, 9) John Lewis, similar at Baublebar in US, 
10) Banana Republic, similar in UK at John Lewis here and here
Where only one website is given, it means the piece is available on the store's US and UK website.

Summer associates have just started in our New York office this week and throughout all major cities around the world, the law firms, banks, consulting firms, accounting firms and various companies are seeing an influx of young summer interns flood through their doors. So for today's post, I decided to discuss the 10 essential items every summer intern should have in her wardrobe. These items are in addition to the basics that I assume most professional interns already own from their interviewing days: a pair of black pumps, a black or dark colored interview suit, and a basic white blouse. If you already have those, but are looking to add a few more essential items to your closet to get you through the next three months, this list is for you:

Items 1, 2 and 3: A Second 3-piece suit (matching jacket, pants, skirt)
It might seem like an unnecessary expenditure, given that you already own a nice interview suit, to splurge on a second suit. Plus, you say, suits can be so boring! It's so much more fun to buy sheath dresses! Well, that may be true, but the downside of dresses is that they always, well, look like a dress. You simply can't mix them up the way you can with a good three piece suit. But don't buy another black suit. One good black suit for interviews, court dates and very business formal occasions is enough. Get a suit in a nice neutral color that you can wear throughout the year - I would recommend navy or dark grey. If you really want to get something dark, get a pinstripe suit, like the dark grey pinstripe suit I've shown above.

Item 4: Colorful Cardigan
You probably already have a nice black suit jacket from your interview suit, so there's no need to buy a black cardigan as well. Get one in a color you love that will make you smile when you put it on at 10pm at night as you sit down to draft risk factors or make a 50 slide powerpoint deck. Here I have recommended a lovely rich purple, but choose the color you love best. I would also recommend finding one that is wool or partially wool, as office buildings are often freezing and this cardigan should keep you warm!

Item 5: Work Dress
Here is where you can run out and get one of those cute sheath dresses. Just make sure that it is in a color that will match most of the items in your wardrobe. You should definitely be able to wear it with your colorful cardigan, your new suit jacket and your black suit jacket. Here I have suggested a soft grey color, but you could easily do a wine or a blue if those colors worked with the rest of your wardrobe. Versatility is the key here - make sure you can wear lots of different items with the dress.

Item 6: Non-White Button-Down Blouse
I assume you probably already have the staple white button-down shirt somewhere in with your interview clothes. For this piece, again choose a versatile color that will go with your wardrobe, but is not white. You should be able to wear the shirt with your two pairs of suit pants and two suit skirts during the week, and during the weekend, you can belt it over your work dress for a more casual, trendy look. Make sure the shirt fits you properly and does not gap in the front. If necessary, buy one size up and take it to the nearest dry cleaners for a bit of tailoring. Ask the tailor to take it in along the back darts.

Item 7: Office-Appropriate "Tee Shirt"
I highly recommend finding one of these "dressy tees" in a versatile color you love. The fabric should be either a cotton blend or a very high quality cotton - not your typical t-shirt fabric. The benefit of these tees is that they look very nice under a suit, but are less bulky and hot than wearing a button-down all day. In addition, they allow you to take off your jacket in the office because they have sleeves. And, if you want to mix up your wardrobe a bit, you can wear the tee under the cardigan, with any of your suit pants or skirts. On the weekend, you can wear the tee over your workdress for another trendy/casual look.

Items 8, 9 and 10: Accessories (Nude Pumps, Statement Necklace, Clutch)
Even while working a long, tiring internship, you always need some fun accessories. First up, I highly recommend nude pumps. While many other colors might be more fun to invest in, a good pair of nude pumps are second only to a pair of black pumps in your closet. If the Duchess of Cambridge can wear them to everything from charity events to royal balls, you can wear from cocktails to the board room and everything in between. Make sure you find your appropriate shade of nude - for some skin tones, this may be a dark brown or a medium tan. The point is to find a shoe whose color makes it look like an extension of your leg. I guarantee you will wear them everywhere!

Second, find a good statement necklace. I did an earlier post on how to find the perfect statement necklace here. The wonderful thing about a statement necklace is that it is incredibly versatile - you can wear it to work, to cocktails on Friday, brunch on Sunday and then back again to work on Monday. It is also a great way to express your personality through the colors and style that you choose for the necklace. 

Third, make sure you have a cute and classy clutch. It will do double duty as both an evening bag for those after-hour cocktail parties, and as a mini purse that can be stashed in your bag during the day to be grabbed when you are running to lunch or sneaking out to do a quick errand. Also, if you happen to be interning at a company where they take you out for nice lunches, it's much easier to go to lunch with a small clutch rather than hauling around a tote bag. Make sure the clutch is large enough, however, to fit your regular phone, your work phone/blackberry, a public transportation card, a credit card, your office pass/badge and some cash.

So there you go! I hope you find this helpful when planning your summer internship wardrobe!! Readers, do you have any helpful hints or suggestions??

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