Career-directed fashion on an intern budget

By Brandy Robidoux


Anyone who has seen the film “The Devil wears Prada” can probably recall the ice cold glare Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep) delivers when she disapproves of her newest intern’s first day getup. While Miranda Priestly was a fictional character, bosses like this do actually exist.  More than likely, your boss or supervisor at your workplace is paying some attention to what you wear to the office.  He or she is also probably forming an opinion of you based on this. So once you’ve got that coveted internship you’ve always wanted, what do you wear to impress?

While first impressions really do count for something and it’s important to put your best foot forward, this can sometimes be hard without breaking the bank. I remember the night before my first internship; I had the urge to run down to Saks Fifth Avenue and spend my entire life savings on a few designer dresses a new pair of stilettos.  This of course was not the sensible or practical thing to do. Luckily there are a few other less pricey options to enable you to look like the capable young professional you are.

Stores such as H&M are great places to start building the base of your work wardrobe. They are perfect for finding important staples such as a simple pencil skirt, or a black blazer, and they won’t leave for wallet feeling empty. I’ve seen ladies blazers at H&M sell for as low as $20, and their products tend to be good quality. That being said, stay away from stores such as Forever 21. While they do sometimes carry work clothing at a tempting price, the clothing is made cheaper and will not last as long. You are much better off spending a few extra dollars to get a piece that will last you years.

There are a few things you shouldn’t skimp on.  Every guy should own at least one solid pair of black dress shoes. Having a good quality pair is a great way to pull any outfit together. Places like J. Crew or Banana Republic have a great selection, and while they might be a little on the pricier side, this is one of those items worth splurging on.

Equally as important for women is a basic black pump. Every woman should have this in her closet regardless of where she is interning. It’s really important to invest in a good pair of black pumps that will last you a long time and will also be comfortable. A simple pair is best, which can easily transition from day to night allowing you can get the most use out of them. While sky high heels are pretty to look at, they are not best suited for the work place, so keep the heel 5 inches and under. Stores like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx have wonderful selections of designer shoes at discounted prices. These stores are pretty much the perfect go to place for an intern on a budget.

More than anything it’s the little details that stand out to people.  All the style in the world won’t make up for chipped nail polish or an untrimmed beard. Take the few extra minutes to take care of yourself, it goes a long way. If it’s the one thing you do, run a brush through your hair. Guys, while scruffiness might be cute on a lumberjack it’s best not to be donned in the office. Crisp and clean cut is always the way to go here. The workplace is also never a place to take risks. If you think something you have on even has the slightest chance of being deemed inappropriate, change. Most importantly, no matter what you end up wearing, be sure you do so with confidence. As the saying goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Brandy Robidoux can be reached at [email protected]u.