Fashion Whip is a political style column in The Huffington Post by Lauren A. Rothman, inspired by Lauren's experience as the founder of Styleauteur, a style and fashion consulting firm.
Your clothes reveal more about you than you think: your body or your judgment. A young woman walks into an office dressed in a skirt with a blouse tucked in -- take a moment to envision this ensemble. Is she wearing a chic pencil skirt, belted with a fitted button down and gorgeous heels, or is she in a mini-skirt paired with a sheer blouse adorned with an of-the-moment bejeweled collar and five inch strappy sandals?
Interns flood offices at this time of year and don't always understand the boundaries of what is appropriate to wear to work. As an intern you are still a reflection of a company's corporate culture and even though summer may feel like a casual time of year, or your office may follow a business casual dress code, do not dress down. During your internship you want to impress people -- in New York City you might be dressing for a job in fashion or media dreaming of one day meeting Anna Wintour; in Washington, D.C. you could have hopes of a political career; and, in Silicon Valley, leave the hoodies and sweats to those who have already made their millions.
As an intern, you will learn a lot but you will also be asked to perform tasks that others at the office don't want to do -- long walks for deliveries and pickups to endless hours of fascinating research projects (or administrative tasks) that take place seated at a desk or on the floor. Short skirts and sky high heels will not help you!
This is quickly becoming the summer of skinterns as I hand out dressing citations at organizations across the country. Follow these tips to avoid becoming the office joke, the next scandal, or just the object of unwanted attention.
Open back tops or dresses: Bras must be worn to work. If your shirt calls for a stick-on bra, change.
Too short: Employers don't like it when everyone is talking about what you're wearing. If you get daily comments from senior managers like "I could never wear anything that short when I was your age," that is their non-confrontational way of telling you to change. You may have great legs... but that does not mean you should be showing them off at the office!
Too tight: Being hot at work should not be your primary goal. If you're wearing something so tight it looks like you should be working a pole, you are not appropriate!
Too much cleavage: If people clap when you enter the office or break room, it's not because you won an award. Keep the girls covered and don't leave bra straps exposed.
Sheer clothes: Stand by a window and see if light travels through your garment. Add a slip or cami to avoid looking like you're wearing a cover-up on South Beach.
Crop tops: Maybe you were born with a six-pack or just like the latest trend of peek-a-boo tops. Either way, showing off your abs (or belly) is not an asset at the office.
Shoes: Don't get called out for wearing the wrong shoes on the office runway. If your soles can also be seen at the beach, gym, farmers market, or at a club they better be in your bag and not on your feet. Open toe shoes in general are questionable in professional workplaces but Crocs, flip-flops, knee high gladiator sandals, and five-inch heels definitely don't help you fit in.
Shorts: Don't wear leggings in the winter or Daisy Dukes in the summer. While a bermuda "shorts suit" may fall in and out of fashion, booty shorts, hang-out shorts, and wrinkled shorts are never in style at the office.
Underwear: This might seem obvious, but don't forget to wear it. Also, be sure to camouflage VPL (visible panty lines). Bloggers are the new paparazzi and you don't want to end up on a fashion don't list!
Have a great summer experience dressing for your internship. Be on-trend and fashion forward but avoid the skin!
Follow Lauren A. Rothman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/styleauteur