Some of these are common sense, but they’re worth mentioning.
DO observe the dress culture of the office. This will be your guide as to how casual or out there you can be with your wardrobe choices. HOWEVER, be warned: Just because Shelley in marketing is wearing a sheer lace dress with a denim jacket to work, doesn’t necessarily mean you, the intern, can do the same. Play it safe the first week of work.
DON’T wear heavy makeup. When I say heavy I mean, anything beyond a natural “I woke up like this” look. No smokey eye, no cat eye, no falsies, no heavy contouring. None of that. Not until you really see how the culture of the office is.
This also goes for nail polish. Stick to traditional colors like reds, pinks, and nudes. If you work in government or at a major corp, I would advise against nail polish all together.
This isn’t about gender, this is about not looking like the dumb 20 year old. Trust me on this.
DO wear sensible pumps or flats. Preferably flats if you have an internship that will have you on your feet. I know. If you’re a heel girl, flats are horrible. But your feet will thank you later. I had a styling internship a few years back, and I wore flats for the grunt work, then conspicuously switched to heels when I felt like I needed to be “cute”.
DON’T wear the same shoes you would wear to the club to work. I’m serious. I’ve seen girls (including my own interns) do it. I know that when you’re first starting out, you only have the shoes you bought for that Vegas trip you took for your 21st B-Day. However, you need to go to a Cathy Jean, Forever 21, or H&M and find you a decent, simple pair of black pumps. No platform. No chains. #NoHookerShoes
DO wear a good bra. I’m going to start sounding like a grandmother here, but here it goes. Your girls need to be lifted, but not Victoria Secret lifted. Do not wear your house bra (you know, the comfortable bra you wear when spending a day at home catching up on life via Netflix) and do not wear the bra you wear when you go clubbing. A good bra holds you just right, and can be worn with any work-appropriate blouse without issue (read push-up demi with lace trim).
DON’T wear a crazy handbag. Unless you’re interning at Betsy Johnson or Nasty Gal, don’t wear your bag with chains and studs in a pop neon color. If you work in a creative field, you can get away with this. But if you work for a corp, the gov, or even the Target internship program, wear a sensible bag. Otherwise it’s almost the same as wearing the hooker heels with funky nail polish.
DO watch your body language. Twirling your hair. Crossing your arms. Scowling. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
Twirling your hair makes you look like a bimbo, and I’m sure you’re not one of those.
Crossing arms and scowling makes you seem like a know-it-all or that you’re bored.
Guess what? Those interns don’t get a full-time job offer or a recommendation.
Obviously, this was not an exhaustive list, but it keeps you mindful.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.