Dressing the Part: Internship Dress Codes for Her

by Abbey Crane

As the school year winds down, social gatherings come to an end, and final exams draw closer, many of you are looking forward to starting your summer internships. Whichever internship you choose, one of the most challenging aspects of starting a new position is figuring out what is appropriate to wear. MODA is here to give you the tools you need to find appropriate and stylish attire for any internship that comes your way.


Legal Intern: Business Professional

As a legal intern or law clerk, you will need to dress professionally to attend court on the fly but comfortable enough to be able to sit in a cubicle or run errands all day. For this position, a three-piece suit is a must. A suit set that contains pants, skirt and jacket in conservative colors like black, navy, or charcoal gray insists that you are professional and put together.

The shirt that pairs with the suit can be a little more stylish. Try something with a few ruffles or a subtle pattern with a solid blazer to look fashionable, yet professional. Something like this can easily be found at The Limited, a store that I find to be the perfect medium between too trendy and too monotonous.

Working in a law firm requires you to be on your feet for hours every day. This means that comfortable shoes are a necessity. Stick to conservative, closed-toed heels at a reasonable height. Your shoes should be a neutral color and easy to walk in.

One of the most important pieces to consider while working at a law firm is your bag. Personally, I am a fan of statement bags; I believe they make an outfit exciting without being too bold. Choose a bag in a bright color, metallic or print, like the canvas Tory Burch totes, to accentuate your personality. The big thing to remember about your bag is that it should be large enough to hold everything you need – including portfolios, a laptop, and files.


Newspaper intern: Business Casual

As an intern for a newspaper, you will be researching story ideas, writing news pieces, and reporting in the field. In this position, you will need to dress business casual.

So what does “business casual” actually mean? Many offices have different definitions of business casual. It is often a violation of the business casual dress code to wear anything that “brings undue attention to an individual.” This includes haircuts or color, unnatural piercings, tattoos, and provocative clothing. Therefore, erring on the conservative side for your first few days is the best bet. From there, adjust your attire to what others are wearing.

Business casual often means wearing dress pants or a skirt, similarly to professional attire. One difference between business casual and professional is that women can wear cardigans or sweaters instead of a suit jacket. My go-to source for business casual sweaters is J. Crew. They carry plain, printed, and embellished cardigans that are lightweight and comfortable, and look great on people of all shapes and sizes. The shoes for this look can range anywhere from a pair of cute flats to comfortable, closed toed heels. Just make sure that you are easily able to perform the duties you’re given in the shoes you choose.

In addition to a wide range of choices for shoes, there are a number of different bags you can choose for this position. I recommend a bag that shows off your personal style as well as holds what it needs to.


Fashion Intern: Casual Chic

Being an intern in the fashion industry is a lot like a newspaper intern: it is important to take cues from other employees to determine what you should wear. Therefore, stick to the conservative side for the first few days by wearing dress pants and a fashionable top, observe to seek out the style trends in the office, and adapt to those trends.

According to the fashion director at Teen Vogue, Gloria Baume, “Dress according to the reality of what your day will consist of.” Although it is different for every work place, the general dress code for fashion interns is casual chic. This means that interns often wear a nice pair of tailored jeans. While wearing jeans, interns are easily able to perform tasks that range from computer and administrative work, to taking measurements and creating merchandising boards. It is important that your jeans look nice, fit well, and have no holes or rips in them.

A conservative top with pleats, embellishments or an interesting neckline is perfect for any fashion internship. My favorite place to shop for stylish work-appropriate tops is BCBGMAXAZRIA. The tops at BCBG are great models for workwear because they are uniquely detailed with lace and ruffles but are frequently made in neutral colors, which makes them appear more professional.

You should also keep a blazer or cardigan in your bag to dress up or tone down an outfit. It is usually standard for a fashion intern to wear heels. It is important to have a good pair of comfortable heels that you are able to stand in for long lengths of time. Keeping a pair of stylish flats in your bag, that you can change into if you are sent on an errand, is a good idea incase you need to give your feet a break.


No matter which style your summer internship requires, you are equipped with style guidelines to make you stand out. These professional and stylish looks will ensure confidence and comfort in what you wear on the job.


featured image from workchic.com