You breezed through a summer job in five-year-old button-ups and sundresses, but now you’re starting your fall internship and need to get it together. As an intern, you don’t want to drop your entire savings account on a new work wardrobe. No need—just make sure you have these three essential items in your closet before your first day on the job and you’ll be winning the award for Best Dressed Intern in no time.
A well-cut, versatile blazer
If an outfit is old or not very office-appropriate, a nice blazer can fix that in a second. It needs to fit your body well, and should be a neutral color that can be worn with almost all of your office attire. Navy blue is great for men (yes, that counts as neutral in the business casual world), and maybe it’s my New York bias, but for women I say to always go with black. Make sure it’s made of a nice fabric so things don’t stick to it easily (because, hello, we all know you won’t be washing it more than once every two months), and please pay attention to the cut.
Ben Sherman is an unknown but great brand for men’s blazers, like this one here.
Photo courtesy of Ben Sherman
For women, Nordstrom’s sale section and Nordstrom Rack are always great places to find quality blazers. Here’s a great one by Central Park West from the latter:
Photo courtesy of Nordstrom Rack
If you find a blazer you love but don’t feel the cut is quite right, please do not be afraid to see a tailor. A well-fitting blazer can bring you far, kid.
A pair of great shoes
For men and women alike, no matter how great your outfit is, if you are wearing bad shoes, you will look bad. Footwear is the place where it’s worth dropping some of that hard-earned summer cash. Buy a pair of shoes in a color that will go with almost anything you wear—for men this is usually burgundy or oxblood, and for women, just start with black.
Do not buy cheap shoes. You’ll be wearing these to your internship through the fall and into the cold months, so they have to last. You’ll also likely be walking all over campus and town in them, so if they aren’t comfortable, you’re going to have one miserable semester. This means that you’re going to have to actually go to the store and try them on like it’s 2003, or that you have to be sure to order them from a site with a stellar return policy.
The shoes should be simple so they don’t stand out from your outfit and make it obvious you’re wearing the same pair of shoes every single day. For men, I recommend something like these Ted Baker wingtips:
Photo courtesy of Nordstrom
For women, medium- to high-heels will keep you away from all the weather that will happen during the course of your internship, and a thick heel rather than a stiletto is always better for spending lots of time in. I recommend a good, moderately-priced pair like these Geox pumps.
Photo courtesy of Nordstrom
For leather, make sure to bring your new shoes home to dad or to the tailor to be treated and weather-proofed. You don’t want the 8:00 AM November slush to ruin your great new kicks on your way to your internship.
A sophistocated bag
Men and women alike need a nice bag that will carry everything they need, for their internship and for the rest of the day’s activities. This means it needs to be big enough to hold, at a minimum, your laptop, some snacks, and all of the other random things you need.
Make this the year you graduate from backpacks. Although you are just an intern, you’re still working in a professional setting and want to be taken seriously. Do not make the mistake of carrying your bright yellow, stained, school backpack to your internship like I did one semester just because it was easy.
I live out of my Michael Kors ‘Cynthia’ Saffiano Leather Satchel.
Photo courtesy of Macy’s
It fits my Macbook, my fat wallet (from all the Starbucks gift cards with 33 cents left on them), my lunch, my deodorant, and all of my makeup. Since I got it three months ago, three subway riders have asked me where they could buy it for themselves. The long strap lets me have both my hands free to carry coffee, send Snapchats, and ride the train, and the short straps with the tortoiseshell details are adorable. I recommend the “Dark Dune” color, because I suppose us women should wear at least one thing that isn’t black.
And, ladies, if you’re afraid of losing your phone in that amazing new bag of yours, be sure to check out the Pursecase.
For men, do not try to fool everyone by purchasing a fancy, lockable briefcase. A simple, sleek messenger bag is fine, like this one from Barney’s New York.
Photo courtesy of Barneys Warehouse
These pieces aren’t just great for your fall internship, but they work for business casual events, too. What do you think? Are these three items enough to turn a college kid into a working kid? What brands do you think are the best for these pieces? Let me know in the comments below–I am always looking to step up my office wardrobe.