Style Secrets: The Intern

“Clothes don’t make the man, but clothes have got many a man a good job.”
Herbert Harold Vreeland

Please, by all means, go ahead and whoop for joy! Toss your head back, fist pump the air, and allow girly giggles to escape from your crimson-colored lips. I have no right to stop you. After all, you’ve earned the privilege for such jubilation; you’re entitled to let yourself go wild with excitement. Months of hard work have passed, and you received your prize – the internship of a lifetime. Therefore, let the world know! Outburst over? Good, let’s get down to business!

An internship is synonymous with a coming out party thrown in the honor of a dazzling debutante; it is your chance to be introduced to society – or at least your fellow co-workers in the office where you will be working. More appropriately, it is the venue where you will be judged; and oftentimes judged harshly. But darlings, it is not your personality that will be critiqued; moreover, it is your style.

If we learned anything from The Devil Wears Prada’s Andrea Sachs, it is that society, while quick to deny it, has a tendency to judge a book by its cover; hence the reason why you want your internship style to scream sophistication. In that respect, you don’t want to stifle your own creativity in the wardrobe department; thus, learning what prevails and what doesn’t in the workplace is essential for earning the respect you deserve, both professionally and fashionably!

Black is the New Black You can drop yourself forty years in the future, or flashback sixty years to the past, it doesn’t matter what era you currently find yourself in, black will forever be the new black. Day or night, old or young, it is a classic shade that is both smart and sassy, and will take you from the boardroom to cocktail hour with complete ease, sophistication, and timeless elegance; hence the reason why much of your agency-inspired attire should consist of pieces in noir hues.

That is not to say that you should overhaul all the color in your closet; but ebony colored accoutrements are more acceptable in the working world. They contribute a preemptive neutral palette for bold accessories; while providing a slimming effect that highlights your best features. As an added bonus, no wrong can be done when the color black is in use, so you can spend all that time you would have been devoting to worrying your pretty little head over the power of a pink versus blue frock, and direct it towards completing newly acquired assignments ahead of time to impress your boss!

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Cream of the Crop By all means, do not bare your belly in a work environment unless your given title is belly-dancer; the crop top I am referring to is a smart, Jackie O-influenced jacket that hovers between a boucle and blazer in its aesthetic, making it a piece that you will be able to incorporate into your style even after-hours.

You want to ensure that you are investing in a topper that will stand the test of time; therefore I recommend buying black. A navy piece can easily work well in your wardrobe; but it possesses limitations in that it clashes with a black bottom, and will prove to be difficult to work into different ensembles. Something in a midnight shade with bell sleeves that flutter around the elbows; or a tinge of menswear styling a la Madewell’s Cropped Tux Jacket is ideal. On their own pieces like this harbor uniqueness; but with a little creativity, and a lot of accessories, you can truly give them a personality that reflects you and only you!

Skirt the Issue There are no rules, regulations, or restrictions regarding baring your legs in the workplace via saucy bottoms that are slightly smart-alecky in their presentation; yet subdued enough to be acceptable in any working environment. Therefore, when searching for a style staple for your new position, you can’t go wrong with a handful of skirts that are flippy, flouncy, or perfectly pin straight; in addition to a few flirty frocks which cast a refined glow upon your wardrobe that will garner you respect from your peers, whilst giving you the chance to show off your gorgeous gams!

“It is only at the first encounter that a face makes its full impression on us.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

Not to be forgotten is your quest for comfort. Darlings, do not feel the need to confine yourself in heavily-constructed tailored skirts that weigh you down and make you sweat bullets – even when you’re sitting in an air-conditioned environment! Bottoms crafted out of jersey fibers are just as posh as their more professional counterparts, yet ensure that you can move, groove, and get the job done in any situation you encounter. They are also quite a bit more affordable than wool pieces, making it possible to add multiple styles to your wardrobe with minimal expense.

American Apparel is a virtual one-stop shop for skirts of this kind. The Interlock Pencil Skirt creates an hourglass silhouette courtesy of a slimmer about the waist that sucks you in and keeps you looking stylish from the moment you step foot inside the office until the second you depart; while the raw edges of the Fine Jersey Drape Skirt add a playfulness to your look du jour that highlights your youthfulness without concealing your proficiency in your given field.

I myself prefer skirts, as I find that they are more versatile in one’s wardrobe, and are quite easy to dress up or down; but as a working girl it is essential that you keep at least a couple of dresses on hand that you can toss on when the need arises, or simply to break-up the monotony of skirts and pants that can lead us head-on into a rut in terms of attire. Look for effortless pieces that are classy, cosmopolitan, and capable of making a statement at your place of employment or the corner coffee shop. mark’s Ace of Lace Party Dress is an exemplary example. The cinched-in waist and A-line styling of the skirt provide the perfect accoutrement for those quick runs to Starbucks, while the lace yoke about the shoulders and throat add pure elegance that is unfussy yet unstoppable!

“Respect is love in plain clothes.”
Frankie Byrne

Pump It! There is no question that height makes one feel more powerful. When you’re towering over your peers you feel as if you are the leader of the pack, the big cheese, the head honcho; hence the reason why slipping on a pair of stilettos can boost one’s confidence by miles! With a little bit of lift, it is simple to feel like a true sophisticate; even more, however, is that, when faced with a new situation full of unfamiliar faces, such as an internship, you want to exude fearlessness – a pair of killer shoes is capable of creating such assurance.

There is a virtual bevy of heels ripe for the picking – pointed-toe pumps are polished; oxford booties are classically smart; peep-toes are tongue-in-cheek; wedges are blasé yet serendipitous; and cage heels juxtapose rebelliousness with refinement. The key is finding the style, or styles, that work perfectly for both you and your wardrobe. Don’t forget, when it comes to selecting the footwear that will pave your path to the world of professionalism it is up to you to keep one very important thing in mind…be aware of the height of your heels! No one wants to face the embarrassment of falling in front of their co-workers; therefore, choose footwear that you are comfortable walking in to save yourself from potential oops moments!

Ditch the Denim Don your denim with wild abandon on weekends, after you’re released from the daily grind of your internship, or while lounging around the house; but ditch it when you’re on duty. Denim may be your most tried and true comrade, but it is known for being a staple of casual style, and instantly sends the wrong message to the people you are trying to impress now that you’ve snagged such a sweet gig! Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely no problem with wearing pants to an internship – in fact, the aesthetic found in trousers is one of the most fabulous of ways to flatter any figure; the main issue is perusing the appropriate styles so that you attract new friends with your look, as opposed to annoying or antagonizing them.

You want to be fun and flirty in your choice of chaps whilst upholding an urbane vibe that translates from head to toe. I recommend forgoing the skintight look, and embracing a cut that cascades chicly over your curves. Pleated trousers with a slight menswear ambiance like Generra’s Pleated Front Slouch Pants, or tapered pants with a hint of shimmer like Forever 21’s Elastic Trim Satin Pant are quintessential. They’re basic yet blissful in their styling, and will most definitely get two thumbs up in terms of wondrous workplace attire!

“While clothes may not make the woman, they certainly have a strong effect on her self-confidence – which, I believe, does make the woman.”
Mary Kay Ashe

For the girl who is, how shall we put this…slightly more daring in her daily style, and is willing to be on the receiving end of curious stares for at least the first few hours of the morning, replace pants completely with a pair of tailored shorts. Once thought of as a piece created solely for the playground, shorts have taken on a more grown-up appearance via pleats, satin and silk crafting like that seen on Diane von Furstenberg’s Ramier Shorts, cuffs like the ones found on Chris Benz’s Camino Shorts, and a multitude of other forms which make them more welcome in the working world. Just be sure to layer them over a pretty pair of tights so that your look isn’t viewed as being too risqué!

Tee Time Please do not forget that workwear does not have to be stuffy. When you’re playing it professional on the bottom, it is ideal to be vivacious on top to balance things out. In any style situation, balance is a must as it keeps your look in check, stopping it from going overboard in any one direction, whilst allowing you to try your hand at various genres of fashion that pique your interest, without forcing you to conform to any one particular style.

Whimsical graphic tees like Heritage 1981’s Union Jack Watercolor Tee, and blouses that feature vibrant embellishments such as Milly’s Gemma Blouse are faultless fashions to embrace. When styled underneath a blazer or tucked into a high-waisted pencil skirt the look is completely unconventional, which instantly showcases your eye for style, while toning down the harshness of pieces so often associated with the corporate world.

Ambrosial Accents Kitty cats, if you weren’t already aware, this is where the true fun begins! When you’re adhering to a dress code, even one that is fairly lax, accessories become the voice of your personality. They provide a peek into the lifestyle that you may be keeping secret from your co-workers. Perhaps the cocktail ring gracing your pointer finger is indicative of a wild and crazy party girl who paints the town red on the weekends; or maybe the wrap bracelet that seems never to leave your waif-like wrist is symbolic of a charity that you hold in high regard. While your peers may never know the true story, your accessories provide a chance to make their minds wander; whilst giving you the opportunity to remain true to yourself and your style!

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”
Henry J. Kaiser

Given the fact that you are in the working world, you must be mindful of how far you go in terms of accessories. You want to remain minimal yet magnificent; scanty yet sensational; austere yet ambrosial; and to do so takes planning. Steer clear of clunky or noisy pieces such as oversized cuffs or charm bracelets. Such items, while absolutely stunning to look at, oftentimes interfere with your work, and could, potentially, aggravate those surrounding you. That girl a few desks over who constantly cracks her gum? Do not allow your accessories to lower you to her level! After all, you do not want to become the office nuisance; you simply want to embellish your body with beauteous decorations.

A cocktail ring like mark’s Glisten Up Ring or For Keeps Ring is ideal. The styling of both falls more towards the glamorous spectrum, as opposed to being gaudy; yet still manages to add a dash of vintage glitz to your form – exactly what you’re going for! Pair it with a necklace that harbors a slight edge to its aesthetic like the Peak of Chic Necklace, in addition to a low-key bracelet in the fashion of Alex and Ani’s Tree of Life Expandable Bangle Set for a look that is trendy yet tranquil. Have fun with your accessories. Don’t feel the need to match all gold or all silver in terms of jewelry; sometimes the most spectacular looks are the ones that highlight a little disorganization and anarchy!

Nude Attitude Unfussy. That is your goal when it comes to hair and makeup in the workplace. You want your natural beauty to shine through; therefore leave the drama (all forms of it!) at home. Embrace neutral shades that accentuate your best features, yet come across as subtle enough that people have a hard time telling whether or not you are truly wearing makeup at all, or if you were simply born with that gorgeous glow!

Eyes are one of the most important features of a face, and the very first thing I look at when I meet someone new; hence the reason why one should highlight them to the best of their ability. A thickening mascara like Scanda-Lash Hook Up Mascara in either Blacklash or Brownout is the perfect place to start. It defines lashes by separating, lengthening, and adding volume, yet is natural enough to look commonplace. The next step is eyeliner. Black eyeliners often come across as very “girls’ night out”; whereas a liner in a lighter shade, such as mark’s Get in Line Hook Up Liquid Waterproof Eyeliner in Cocoa Coquette is more understated, yet still effective in making your peepers pop! To finish off the look, steer clear of smoky eyes, or dark shadows, and go for a sophisticated light shimmer, like the one created with mark’s Winkstick Hook Up Eye Shadow Stick in Demure or Innocent. Couple with a nude lip created via a sheer gloss like Belle of the Ball Lip Balm for a complexion that is romantically dewy and completely charming.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
Mark Twain

While it takes a bit of time to create a makeup look that comes across as natural; the same is not true for a laidback hairstyle. There are three hairstyles that juxtapose between professional and mischievous in their shape:

Ponytail - Resist the lure of the peppy, cheerleader-inspired high ponytail! Keep it polished with a low ponytail that rests at the nape of your neck. The effect is sleek whilst maintained in the sense that it keeps hair out of your face while you’re hard at work!
Down - Free flowing locks will forever be in fashion! Try to steer clear of too many products that weigh your tresses down; simply allow it to spill long and lank over your shoulders for pure sublimity.
Side Braid - The side braid is slightly bohemian in its aesthetic, for it ultimately leaves tiny tendrils and wisps of hair framing your face; two things that come across as angelic yet completely appropriate for the working girl!

Rotating through these three styles for any given work week is a quintessential way for retaining refinement in your daily dress; while keeping things well-proportioned in terms of style.

For Your Listening Pleasure Darlings, you may know how to dress for your internship; but now that you’re a part of the working world, you need a soundtrack made with the working girl in mind. Now you’ve got one!

9 to 5 - Dolly Parton
Work is a Four-Letter Word - The Smiths
Working Class Hero - John Lennon
Bright Future in Sales - Fountains of Wayne
Maggie’s Farm - Bob Dylan
Morning Train - Sheena Easton
Manic Monday - The Bangles
I Can’t Wait to Get Off Work - Tom Waits
A Hard Day’s Night - The Beatles
Jacqueline - Franz Ferdinand

“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fashionably yours!

Thanks to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Shopbop, American Apparel, Forever 21, Meet Mark, and Cinemalogue for the pictures.

Don't forget to enter the Twenties Girl Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Sophie Kinsella's Twenties Girl.


Audrey Allure said...

lol great tips! i've also learned to dress like the bosses with higher authority & to see what everyone else in the place is working.

when i was working at Cookie magazine, it was weird for anyone to be dressed up while everyone was in jeans & converse.

Allegra said...

great post, honey!

Couture Carrie said...

Fantastic post, darling! Love the play list and various quotes! And Amen to Black is the New Black!


Anonymous said...

Love the first photo! ;))

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the guide. I hate shopping for a work wardrobe, but you gave me some great ideas.

Rohini said...

Love this post! Totally on the same page as you when it comes to pumps, nothing makes me feel sexier than a pair 6" heels.

PS - The Beatles are so bloody awesome. I love all their songs.

English Rose ♥ said...

Oh, Erika, I simply adore you - great post - I lovelovelove the Devil Wears Prada and after seeing the Septemeber Issue it's scary how realistic it is

I am bookmarking this post for when I eventually get a job

Thanks so much for the lovely comment ma chérie

I hope you had an absolutely fabulous Christmas

Stay safe and chic darling
English Rose x

alexkeller said...

i've been wearing black for over 25 years, girls. it works, so i stick with it. and a good blazer will carry you from day to night (and back to day - ha!) for many years to come

Emily said...

This post is so helpful! Now that I'm "a working girl" this'll come in handy.

And you are right - black IS the new black :) It never ceases to amaze and maintain elegance.

www.janetteria.com said...

U are right, Erika! Gorgeous tip & wonderful post. I'll save it. Haha!


Jen Hsieh said...

ahh, erika! this is such a great post. especially since i'm looking for internships for this summer. great advice and i especially love that you made a soundtrack ;)
if i get an internship i'll definitely be rocking out to those songs haha

Leia said...

Excellent, thorough post! Now if only I had an internship where I could put all the tips into practise ;)


I loved this post Erika! All black will be forever chic for work and a side braid can definitely be incorporated. I love your first song choice. I have '9 to 5' stuck in my head now! I didn't know you had rats. I love rats. Do you have any left or did you only have one? xoxo


Anonymous said...

I love the pencil skirt look

Taylor Sterling said...

another great post! What amazing tips!!

Ashley said...

I couldn't agree more! These are such great tips... I wish I had these before my first internship!

Jaime @ laviejaime said...

Cute post- I love the Mark For Keeps ring! :)

Kaya said...

Fantastically detailed, you covered practically everything that would come to the mind of a novice.

Apart from that, it's a really well written piece and it inspires me to write more often.

I came across your blog very recently and am really glad I did :)

Great work! What do you do professionally?


Toothfairy said...

that's one problem I don't have! Working as a dentist, releases me of that headache every morning :P


Sherin said...

This is a perfect guide for interns! Irecently got my dream internship and this guide is so helpful. A casual black dress is always perfect, along with a pair of pumps. Thanks for writing this!

Sarah Whitney said...

I just love the cropped jacket idea! The one on the right is my favorite. And the playlist is too cute ;)

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post dear! I looooove "The Devil Wears Prada." Your clothing tips are superb. Loving the blazers and pencil skirts.

K said...

Fabulous post. I love that you went into detail about the different types of outfits, as well as different parts of outfits, that are acceptable.

T.A.E said...

Great post! I do agree, jeans aren't meant to be worn at work, no matter how flattering they are.*cry*

I work in retail when I'm not in school and it pains me to not wear jeans and I have to get creative but thankfully my recent purchase has made creating outfits easier. :)

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

If I could only get the internship in the first place!


Oh, I so love Devil Wears Prada, as do I love this post. Especially about the heels - can't wait until I enter the workforce and can wear heels without weird stares! Although, come to think of it, I'll have to learn how to walk in heels first...

Thanks so much for stopping by!

la petite fashionista said...

great guide! i like what audrey said above too about mirroring your co-workers wardrobes! i've applied to a few for summer, i'm still waiting to hear back :)

Elizabeth Marie said...

This should be printed out and given to future interns as mandatory reading!!! SERIOUSLY!

Leah said...

Erika, my internet was down the whole night. I'm glad it was restored just now. I missed waiting for your post before I go to bed and this is such a fabulous post. Honestly, I'm so OC that when I start to make something a habit, I get really anxious if I can't do it.

I know what you mean by the joys of internship although I'm way past that stage. I can't anymore be an intern for anything at my age. Hahaha! And two-thumbs up for BLACK... it never fails.


bananas. said...

you crack me up with your playlist...dolly parton?! i was watching that movie the other day.

i never had a cool internship to dress for. i did one in college but i worked with two other woman, one very ghetto who hated me and the other who was, well, not fashionable.

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

Crazy epic post lady! That first AA black skirt is just lovely. Perfect for these child birthin' hips of mine. Ah ha ha

Amelia said...

Ooh, a fashionable internship sounds nice. Cool post!

maddy said...

great post! and fantastic playlist... yay for the smiths!

Anonymous said...

everything is super cute! :)

~ http://hellomisschic.blogspot.com

Midtown Girl said...

I watched this movie AGAIN the other day!! I love it & Hathaway is one of my abs favs..she is just adorable ;-)

So glad you posted cropped blazers!! Just scored a super cute one at a sample sale and can't wait to post pics when I wear it (when the warm weather hits, since its made of linen ;-).

Hope your Holiday was amazing Erika (like this post you wrote)!!

NYE - bring on the glam, doll!


Marz said...

Seriously great post! Black is always the new black, but for me, the new black is Navy! :P
Love that necklace though, I've been searching for a nice lariat for a while.

Becky Tjandera said...

Great tips ! I will definitely wear stylish clothes when I'm working some day haha ! Love that movie , Devil Wears Prada x)

Oh and FYI , San Diego Hills here is a cemetery . Lol . It's just amazing to see a cebeautiful metery haha .

nicole said...

Amazing post Erika! (I wouldn't expect anything less) Damn girl, you didn't even take a break over the holidays! A working girl like me totally appreciates a post like this. Great tips and pointers to keep work wear fun yet comfortable and wearable. You covered all your bases too! I love how you threw in work shorts, I still need to find a pair of black bermuda dress shorts as I'm not allowed to wear anything shorter or above the knee to work. It will be awhile because I've searched over 2 summers and no luck!

Any how, I hope you remembered to take time to relax and enjoy the holidays! and had a wonderful time with friends and family.

You've got me wanting to watch Devil Wears Prada again, I'll have to look for my copy, I seem to have misplaced it.

Thanks again Erika! xo

A. said...

Thanks for this post! Love your writing:)

Rica said...

oh thanks for these fantastic tips erika, i enjoyed reading it and i can say you have a very good, i mean great writing skills!!

thanks for stopping by :)

have a happy new year!



the healthy ghost said...

Thaks for your comment. Good proposals.

COCAMIA said...

Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have! These tips are very helpful! Thank you!

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

ooh that internship sounds great! thank you for letting me know about that giveaway-i LOVE the book "twenties girl" and will definately enter! =)


Chicago Chic said...

You are right, black is ALWAYS good, and I love those jackets!! (love the Smiths & the Beatles too...great choices;)

I hope you have had an amazing holiday season so far, my dear! ♥


That Chelsea Girl™ said...

I am so lucky my internship is online only, I get to write blogs in my pajamas!
Thanks for all the great looks and tips. Definitely will be consulting this post when I get an office internship.

All Women Stalker said...

I am loving the tee idea. But I'm past internship age. Perhaps I'll try going for that belly0-dancer gig? Haha kidding.

Caitlin said...

ooo, love, love, love these quotes and love, love, love what you picked out here!! So great! I especially love the American Apparel stuff. I also love the idea of the pants but the ones on the Left and Right, I don't think would look too good with my big ol' derriere! :)


Rachel @ The Haute Notes said...

Fantastic tips! I think you definitely covered everything one needs to know about dressing for the workplace!
Plus, I'm loving those American Apparel skirts and the Diane von Furstenberg shorts.

myvogue said...

I love the three pairs of pants matched with the pumps. Especially the long ones - I would so wear those for work as they are different than the usual "office pants" but at the same time stylish and sexy!

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