When it comes to your internship or job, there is always this giant question mark about business attire. The best thing you can do is get a feel for the first couple of weeks what the culture is like in terms of clothing before you catch on. However, how do you keep expressing yourself through your style when you have a dress code to adhere to?
I asked the stars of our series “The Intern Diaries” what they do when it comes to keeping their personal style in the workplace, and this is what they said:
Maddy Haller, Social Media Intern at College Fashionista HQ
“When I started my internship, I was a bit nervous about what the dress code would be. My worst nightmare is to have a constricting dress code that wouldn’t allow me to express my style. Obviously, I quickly learned that the CFHQ is super casual. A classic outfit I would wear to the office is a pair of denim with a professional blouse. I’m really into statement tops at the moment – they add a professional element to my look even when I’m wearing jeans. Another tip is to wear a dressier shoe, like a pointed toe heeled mule, to dress it up and make it more office appropriate. Now I know that not all offices allow jeans, so I would say culottes are the saving grace for a strict dress code. Accessorizing is another way to jazz up your business wear and add elements of your personal style.”
Kalynn Smith, Digital Marketing Intern at L Brands for Victoria’s Secret
“I struggled a lot with figuring out my office style right off the bat. I came into my internship hearing it was pretty casual, which was true, but since I had never been in the corporate setting I still had no idea what to expect. My first big tip is always start off your internship overdressed if you are unsure. And even if my case where I had heard from multiple people it was casual, I wish I had started off a little bit more dressed up! Once you get more comfortable with your team, then you can start to experiment with your fashion trends.
Working in retail, I always try to incorporate the latest trends into my outfit to show that I know what’s up to date. Lately, I’ve been loving wide legs. I keep it casual by keeping one item casual and the rest business. For example, I’ll wear dress pants, a casual tee shirt, and a blazer. I like the contrast from classy business to casual!”
Sahana Holla, Technical and Research Summer Analyst in Finance
“I was definitely worried about trying to express myself at work while still being business professional. For the first couple of weeks, I erred on the conservative side just to be safe but tried to get a feel for the corporate culture and what people wore around the office. After a while, I figured out how to keep my style while still adhering to compliance rules of office attire. Accessorizing is always a great way to spice up an ensemble, whether it be a funky necklace, a cute pair of small hoop earrings, or a cool vest! I always like to make sure I am comfortable yet still confident in whatever I wear to work, so I revolve my wardrobe around that. And, if I am staring a screen all day, glasses are the way to go. Just know that you don’t have to sacrifice your passion for fashion when it comes to the workplace!”
Val Veak, Digital Marketing Team Intern at Nike
“Every internship will require a different dress code, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate your personal style when you walk into the office! Personally, for me my dress code is business casual, but business casual can be interpreted in many different ways. In my photo I am wearing a classic white button up but the pants are the real staple piece. I think “paperbag pants” as they’re called are perfect because they are still professional enough for work, but still make you look chic and are much more flattering than the typical work pant. Not to mention they are unbelievably comfortable. Also, don’t be afraid to to try colors other than black! Grey or white pants/ pencil skirts can really change up a look. I don’t wear a blazer everyday but I do feel more polished when I have one, the one seen in the photo is just a classic black blazer. As for shoes, I just stuck to simple black pointed shoes but these actually have a small wedge, so they are comfortable but also give you added height. I do believe though that shoes are where you can really show your personal style, so never be afraid to try printed or colorful shoes. However, always make sure your shoes are still professional so stray away from really high heels or open toe shoes. I keep my accessorizing to a minimum but you can always add a fun necklace, belt or bracelet. However always keep it to one fun or bold accessory, so if you are wear printed flats, keep the rest of your look classic, so you still have a professionalism to you. Dressing professional doesn’t always mean boring!”
Brisa Gomez, PR Intern at DoSomething.Org
“I am lucky enough to work at a company that doesn’t put restrictions on what I wear. I don’t have to wake up every morning and worry about a dress code. As long as I feel good in what I’m wearing and it’s an attire that wouldn’t be considered inappropriate, then I’m good to go! I think allowing someone to dress as they please is a great way to embrace each individual’s identity and personality. It gives us the opportunity to freely express ourselves and give us the confidence to share ideas and feel comfortable in any setting. How we dress is an extension of who we are, and we shouldn’t be limited to one look or style.”
Hannah Bullion, Social Strategy and Innovation Intern at Refinery29
“Thankfully, Refinery29 is all about encouraging self-expression and wearing whatever makes you feel good. This means I get to wear basically whatever my heart desires! I usually wear some sort of fun pants or jeans, and a basic top. Or if I want to spice it up, I really love wearing sundresses and long flowy dresses. I also find a lot of inspiration from everyone I work around. Some R29-ers wear more business-casual looks while others can rock a pair of blue jeans and white tee and make it look so cool. There’s always a lot of compliments around the office!
Valerie Cammack, Marketing Intern at Nisolo
“At Nisolo the company dress culture and it aligns with my style very well. Jeans are perfectly acceptable (hallelujah) for everyday wear! My typical look is a blouse, button up or occasional t-shirt paired with jeans or trousers. I have really been inspired by the classic and minimal style that Nisolo embodies. I have definitely started focusing more on quality over quantity and I have challenged myself to be more creative with mixing and matching. Also, I of course am always wearing my Nisolo shoes around the office!”
I hope this gave you some inspiration on how to amp up your business wardrobe! Go forth and prosper, and just remember to be yourself!
How do you keep your personal style in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below!