You did it! You landed that internship of your dreams. Now you’re ready to embark on a new adventure and do great things. This calls for a celebration, and of course some shopping. Before you run off to the mall, credit card in hand, let’s take a moment to think.

Office cultures vary across the country. It’s hard to find a wardrobe that works for all of them. Understanding what is expected of you is crucial to your success as an intern. If you’re not sure what you should wear, feel free to ask your intern coordinator. It’s also a great idea to ask what the office culture is like during your interview. It shows you are thoughtful about where you are working and are mindful of your surroundings.

Make a list to make sure you don’t buy too much. After all, this is just an internship. You probably are not at the point in your life where you need a full work-wear wardrobe. This list should be a good starting point:

  • 2 Pencil Skirts

  • 2 Pairs of Trousers

  • 4 or 5 Blouses

  • 2 Blazers 

  • 2 Cardigans

  • A shift dress

  • A pair of heels, nicer sandals, and flats

A lot of people think it’s hard to assemble a good business wardrobe on a budget, but there are tons of great online stores for cute and affordable clothes to wear to work. Here are a few suggestions for all of your business clothes needs.

1) Best Staples: J.Crew Factory

J.Crew is a staple of my wardrobe. I absolutely love their basics. Their cropped trousers are a must, and the pencil skirts are a great value – mine from 5 years ago is still in great shape. Top off either of these bottoms with a blazer and you have a great suit for those more business-formal offices.

2) Best Coats: Forever 21

The key to channeling your inner Olivia Pope starts with a great statement coat. Sadly, coats are usually the most expensive part of building a wardrobe, but Forever 21 makes great ones. Stick to a few neutral coats in colors like grey, black, or camel to keep your wardrobe versatile. It’s also easy to find some matching gloves in these colors to complete the look. If you’re working in a casual or more creative office, incorporate some color to really make your outfit pop.

3) Best Shoes: TJMaxx

The perfect shoes can make or break an outfit. Sadly, the shoes that are perfect for the bar are usually not perfect for the office. The day that TJMaxx got an online store was a blessing in my life. I knew all the storefront locations always had the best shoe sections, and I’ve found that their online options are even better. My biggest advice for shoes is to pick comfortable ones. Between running errands and catching the metro, you’ll be doing a lot of walking. If you choose to wear heels, I suggest friction block or some band aids to prevent blisters.

4) Best Tall and Petite Department: LOFT

I went to LOFT before I started my internship, and wore an outfit from there for my first day. I even saw 5 girls on the metro with my same shirt. People love LOFT because they have a great selection of clothes, but they also have petite and tall offerings.

Although they might be a little more pricey, you really get what you pay for. Tailoring is crucial to business wear and can make or break how an outfit looks on you. If you fall into the petite or tall category, it’s important to buy clothes that are shaped for your body type.

No matter where you’re interning, it’s important to look polished and put together. Follow these guidelines and you’re sure to rock your internship – and you’ll look good while doing it, too.

Julia S
FFL Contributor
Julia is an Ole Miss Rebel, breakfast enthusiast, and Pure Barre junkie. She believes anything is possible with a little sunshine and some lipstick and loves messy buns and cozy sweaters. When she's not in the Lyceum reading WSJ, she's probably cramming for some test or watching Gone With the Wind.
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