Business Casual 101: Finding The Perfect Summer Internship Look

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For many college students, a summer internship is often a first-time experience working in an office setting. Being midway through the summer, it is also common for young workers to struggle to put together new outfits with the pieces they have. Luckily, VALLEY is here with the rundown on how to maintain a professional appearance while on the job.

Using Patterns and Colors

One of this year’s big trends is more “fun” pants with patterns and unique colors replacing the more typical neutrals. A big one is vertical stripes on a more loose, skinny jogger style pant. While pants like these may seem like a more casual piece, if paired with an appropriate top and shoes, you’ll feel trendy, while still following all of the dos and don’ts of the office.

Patterns and brighter colors are usually appropriate in most office situations, as long as they are paired correctly and in a classy manor.

Junior Bridget Horan, an intern at a global limestone distribution company, enjoys “wearing patterned pants or skirts with solid tops, or vice versa,” which allows her to look and feel her best, but while still following the dress code guidelines.

Business Casual For Men

For the guys, most offices will require you to lose the jeans or shorts, so a nice pair of pants such as khakis or chinos are often a safe bet. While a tie is not necessary for a more business-casual look, a nice pair of shoes will still make you look your professional best. 

Depending on where you are working, more casual attire may be acceptable on a Friday. This could include nice jeans or a fashionable loafer or sneaker. As always, especially when it comes to more casual pieces, it’s a good idea to look around the office and see what items are typically worn by coworkers, in order to get a sense of what is and isn’t appropriate.

Accessories for guys can also be a great way to add personality or a finishing touch to an outfit. A watch is a great staple piece worth investing in, since they usually never go out of style. There are also several different styles of belts on the market, which is another way to add flair to a simple pair of pants.

Incorporating Timeless Accessories

Business attire is all about finding what is and what isn’t appropriate for where you will be working, and then adding your own personal style wherever you can. Accessories aren’t just a part of women’s fashion! For the ladies, jewelry is a great way to make an outfit unique. A bright statement necklace or a fun pair of earrings are perfect for incorporating trends, without breaking any rules.

Sticking to more basic pieces, and going for fun accessories, is also one way to nail the perfect business casual look. “I try to stick to staple pieces that I can mix in with trendier accessories such as shoes or jewelry,” Horan says.

Hair and Makeup: The Finishing Touches

For women, another outlet for expressing your personality is through different hair and makeup. “I try to mix up my makeup routine to show off more of my personality,” Horan adds. While you don’t want to overdo it with intense or overdramatic makeup, experimenting with more neutral eye and lip colors can change up your overall appearance. Trying a different hairstyle from your go-to one can also help to spice up a more simple outfit.

Just because you’ll be spending your summer doing an internship, while ultimately gaining more career experience and connections, doesn’t mean you can’t keep up to date with this season’s latest trends or have fun with your outfits!

What’s your go to look for a day in the office? Tag us in your Instagram posts @VALLEYmag!


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