How to Dress For Success

How to Dress For Success

If you’re lucky enough to snag a summer internship, make sure you don’t get labeled a “Skintern.” According to The Baltimore Sun, some interns have shown up for work dressed like Jersey Shore cast members – and it hasn’t gone over well.

“It’s something we deal with all the time,” said Carol Vellucci, director of the University of Baltimore’s Career Center. “One staff member said she received a call from a not-to-be-named employer who had to speak to their intern about wearing booty shorts to the office. I said, ‘She had to tell her that'”?

Now that’s just ridiculous, but I do understand why some interns (or even regular employees) might be confused. What does “business casual” or “casual Friday” actually mean? I once worked at a corporate office that had a confusing business (not casual) dress code. No jeans, no polo shirts, etc. When HR instated “casual summer Fridays,” my friend emailed the director of HR to ask what that entailed. She responded: “more casual than you normally dress.” Not exactly helpful! And she got mad when interns started wearing graphic tees and ripped jeans.

Here are my tips for looking fabulous  at work or at your internship:

1. Always dress up for an interview. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed – and then once you’re in the building, you can take a look at how others dress.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask HR what the official dress code is. Information is power. Ideally, you won’t get a vague answer like my friend did. And if you’re the one creating the policy, be clear about what you expect of your employees! Maybe jeans are OK, but shorts are off limits.

3. Give yourself options. If you want to be able to go out after work, bring a change of clothes or style your outfits so you can remove a sweater or add some accessories to transform your look from day to night.

4. You can look attractive without over-sexing it. Business or business casual doesn’ t mean you have to dress in shapeless black, gray or navy items. Find flattering shapes and colors, but remember that the office isn’t the place to show a lot of skin. I love all the Banana Republic career items (like the photo pictured here). Very classy!

5. Be prepared for temperature changes. In many workplaces, a hot summer day means the office will freeze you out with AC. Invest in some lightweight sweaters or jackets, but make sure whatever you’ve got on underneath will look appropriate on its own.

6.  Don’t overdo casual Friday. It might be casual, but you still want to look professional. For ladies, try a pair of trouser jeans with nice shoes. Guys – choose polos over tees.

(Image via kellebelle)