What Does a Congressional Intern Wear?

What Does a Congressional Intern Wear?My daughter will be interning on The Hill in Washington, D.C. this fall. It’s a great opportunity and she’s excited to learn as much as possible.

The only problem? She has nothing to wear!

Having only just graduated from high school with a mere year of college under her belt, her closet may be bulging, but it is woefully inadequate for anything other than daily classes and weekend fun in Georgetown.

So, this week my college student got her first, crucial lesson in “office wear.” If you have an internship this fall, or are starting your first job in a conservative industry, these tips will help you, too!

So, what does a Congressional intern wear?

When in doubt, go conservative… very conservative. Dresses are easy (not too tight, not too short). Simple pencil skirts and blouses can work (with or without a jacket). And, pant suits are comfortable, especially if giving tours is part of the job description.

Basically, it’s as if you are dressing for a job interview… every day. So when you are shopping, the buzzwords are sleek, elegant, conservative, polished, and professional.

Here’s a list of helpful “do’s” and “don’ts” to get you started!

Fashion Do’s for Interns:

  • Stick to a conservative palette. Add a shot of unexpected color with a pretty scarf or blouse under a jacket.
  • Pencil skirts in “three-season” fabrics are incredibly versatile.
  • Simple, solid skirts, paired with interesting blouses or jackets will stretch a small wardrobe.
  • Invest in a really, really good bag. It matters!
  • Leather flats (closed toe, neutral color) are essential. You will be on your feet a lot.
  • Low heeled pumps or slingbacks are a must. Make sure they are comfortable enough to walk in.
  • You’ll need a packable, mini umbrella (trust me). Keep the jellybean bright slicker in the dorm.
  • If interning in the winter, a simple long wool coat and/or a nice mackintosh will keep you looking professional in transit.
  • Choose black or brown leather gloves, not cheery, striped ones from Forever 21.
  • Stockings are mandatory, every day. (think Kate Middleton, not Keisha). Purchase thigh highs in bulk. If one runs, you always have another one to match. And, always keep extra in your bag.
  • Makeup provides a polished, finished look. The “rolled out of bed for an 8 a.m. class” look will not fly.

What Does a Congressional Intern Wear?Fashion Don’ts for Interns:

  • If you think your skirt may be too short, IT IS.
  • Save the crazy prints and neon brights for the weekend.
  • No denim.
  • No bare legs.
  • Ditch the backpack. If you are coming straight from class, invest in a leather tote.
  • No flip flops, sneakers, or over-the-knee boots (cute though they may be).
  • No distracting or over-the-top jewelry. Keep jangly armfuls of bangles at home. Ditto rhinestone statement necklaces, shoulder dusting earrings, and any “club” jewelry.
  • Manicures should be professional. Keep nails short enough to use a keyboard easily (you’ll likely be typing a lot!)
  • Hair should look professional. Take a cue from the “talking heads” on national news programs. If your hair is hard to tame, a low ponytail always looks sleek.

Last words of advice. If, when you look in the mirror, you think, “can I get away with this?” the answer is always, always, no. Above are some pieces I’ve found that will start your internship off right.

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PHOTO: What Does a Congressional Intern Wear? images used with permission. This collage was created using Polyvore.

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