The Intern’s Style Guide: 5 Fun Business Casual Outfits to Inspire You

Ah, summer internships. They’re almost always unpaid and seemingly impossible to get. Plus, applying to them is oddly reminiscent of applying to college. Yet most college students are more than willing to trade in their summers of fun in the sun in the name of resume boosting and connection making at a summer internship.

Landing that picture perfect summer internship is a multi-stage process filled with many ups and downs, all of which I’ve gone through by now.

The sleepless nights spent researching my options and endlessly refining my cover letters and resume layout? Been there.
Anxiously refreshing my inbox in hopes of an email from editors and hiring managers. Done that.
Casually hyperventilating before phone interviews and after that moment when I was formally offered internships. Done that, too. (Sorry lungs.)

As the reality of a summer internship quickly approaches (emphasis on the quickly… I’m packing my bags to move to NYC in one week!), I’ve realized that my wardrobe needs a bit of a facelift. My summery crop tops and high-waisted shorts won’t exactly have a place in the office this summer. If I want to make the most of this summer and be the best intern I can be, I’ve got to play the part, and that means dressing professionally.

The term “business casual” may leave a bad taste in your mouth, rendering visions of stiff white button-downs and grandma-esque kitten heels. But while indulging in a little internship shopping spree, I realized that business casual attire doesn’t have to be bland and boring. It’s totally possible to add your own flair and colorful personality to any business casual look, as I recently learned myself. If you’re in need of some fashion inspiration before beginning your summer internship, look no further! Using Polyvore.com, I created five internship-approved options that will have your hiring manager thrilled he or she hired such a chic intern.

1. Add a bright blazer
Let’s face it—black blazers are basic. And who wants to be called basic? That’s right… no one. Give that plain blazer a rest and try a brightly colored one—a totally unexpected head-turner. You’ll have all your fellow interns asking “Oooo where’d you get that?”
My personal faves? This one from Forever 21 in red-orange, or this one from H&M in coral.

Business casual: bright blazer

2. Start with a patterned shirt
Ditch that over-worn button-down shirt and go for something more playful and bright like a summery floral top. When putting together this type of outfit, start with the shirt and build the rest of the outfit around it. As seen in the collage above, orange pairs surprisingly well with dark blue hues if you’re feeling extra bold.
My personal faves? This cool triangle button-down from Loft, or this floral beaut from Zara.

Business casual: patterned shirt

3. Go for patterned pants
No, I’m not talking about those loose-fitting patterned pants you buy at PacSun. Make sure you find ones that are fitted and made with a nicer material. As with the brightly colored blazers, keep the rest of your outfit simple: nude shoes, a plain top and minimal jewelry. Let the pants do the talkin’.
My personal faves? These checkered pants from Asos, or these fun floral ones from Zara.

Business casual: patterned pants

4. Throw on a bold necklace
I’m a sucker for a necklace that packs a punch. This option gives you a chance to make use of your plainer clothes. Go for muted colors that accent the colors in the necklace. Other than that, simply sit back and experience the power of a statement necklace.
My personal faves? This stunnah from BaubleBar, or this one from Etsy.

Business casual: statement necklace

5. Try a fun (but appropriate) dress
Beat the heat this summer and look for a dress of appropriate length and in a fun print or bold color. But no plunging necklines or excessively tight silhouettes. Save those for the clubs, ladies. Before dashing out the door, ask yourself, “Would I be okay going to church with my grandma in this?”
My personal faves? This colorblock one from Nordstrom, or this black and white one from H&M.

Business casual: patterned dress

See? Business casual attire doesn’t just entail plain white button-downs, uncomfortable pencil skirts and boring black blazers. You can bring your own personal style into the picture to show your coworkers your personality. I personally always feel more productive and content if I took the time to pick out a bangin’ outfit, so your day in the office will be a breeze if you’re feeling stylish. But always be sure to consult the hiring manager or whoever offered you the internship beforehand to ask what the office attire is like because every office is different. Good luck at those internships, fellow fashionistas! And if you’re going to be in NYC this summer, let me know in the comments below!

As always, thanks for reading!

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