Fashion Editor Sophie Miller shares her tips and tricks for surviving internship season in style.
As summer approaches, many university students find themselves staring down the barrel of four long months of coffee runs, copy-making, and cubicle-dwelling. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about internship season! For most of us, this will be our first foray into the professional world, and this can be a daunting prospect. Entering the workforce is no easy task, but, though it may sound trite, “dressing for success” is no joke. Looking impeccably put-together for work everyday shows employers that you’re committed, detail-oriented, and composed – a consummate professional. It may seem like a small thing, but what you wear to work says a lot about you, whether you’re locked away in a research lab or filing papers at a law firm. Below, I’ve outlined ways you can implement the hottest trends of spring and summer into your work wardrobe – because sometimes all it takes is the right belt to get you asked back for next summer.
Silk Pencil Skirts
An artsy spin on a workplace style staple, these provide both breezy comfort and a metallic pop to an otherwise-simple ensemble. Balance is key when putting looks together, so pair one of these with an oxford shirt, a structured top, or something simple and sleeveless. As for colour, these items are pretty versatile, so the only shade I would steer clear of is black — dark-coloured silk belongs strictly to late dinner dates and the bedroom.
These have long had their place in summer offices, but recently, designers like Prada, Bottega Veneta, and (my favourite newcomer) Gabriela Hearst have reintroduced them with renewed structure and in new colours. When picking one of these, think less bohemian and more New Look: a-line skirts, starched collars, and buckled belts turn these from casual daywear to professionally chic.
Once commonplace in women’s professional wardrobes, these had a bit of a fall after the 1980s, but rest assured, they are back in full force. Seen all over runways for spring and summer, these can spice up your most basic neutral work heels. Always low-heeled, pair these with slacks or loose dresses for an instant boost to the trend quotient of your look.
Thanks to the influence of Kim Kardashian and Yeezy, head-to-toe neutrals are back in a big way. In a season of neon and bold prints, stand out by paring your looks back — all-white, all-beige, all-navy, and all-black ensembles are timelessly chic, especially when the structure is bold and the tailoring impeccable. Try slacks and sleeveless tops, midi skirts and bohemian blouses, or oversize blazers and cigarette pants in these colour palettes to channel such modern icons as Alexa Chung, the Olsen twins, and Kendall Jenner.
The easiest way to update your work style is to throw on a statement blazer — whether it be over a simple shirt and pair of pants or a basic shift dress, these are always your friend. They add a touch of 90s laid back glamour to your look, and they go with pretty much everything, making them the ultimate statement piece. Patterns work well on these, though for a workplace environment, stick to tweed, plaid, or solid colours and pair with slim-fitting pieces to balance out the ensemble.
Oversized White Shirts
An absolute wardrobe staple, whether in the office or out, the way to update this classic is to size it up. You don’t even have to go out and buy a brand new shirt – pull a Diane Keaton and snatch one right out of your boyfriend’s closet! Nothing says femininity like menswear. The flowiness and boxy-ness of your top half should — say it with me — balance with your bottoms. For that reason, this item is put together best with a skinny pant or a pencil skirt. The only thing to remember here is volume – since your shirt will be large and in charge, a loud pattern somewhere else might not be your best friend. Channel French understated glamour and keep it low-key.
These have had their heyday in every iconic fashion era — from the a-line dresses and peter-pan collars of the fifties to the power suits, jewel tones, and towering shoulder pads of the eighties. They’ve made their return once again, and though they can sometimes seem outdated, with the right pairing, they can serve a look that is at once contemporarily chic and fabulously vintage. On mules and slingbacks they’re at their best, especially when the heels come in the chunkier variety. Try to keep your legs covered as well – a bare limb with a low heel does not a cohesive ensemble make.
Not a material commonly associated with summer, leather in jacket form should most definitely stay in storage this season. However, spring and summer runways have brought us new mediums to explore with cowhide: dresses, skirts, and pants are a great way to introduce leather into your work wardrobe! In these new silhouettes, the material is simultaneously sultry and serious, mimicking the vibe of the season. Try a leather dress under a white tee shirt, or a leather skirt with an oxford shirt – mix your materials and get to work!
Boxy, Belted Silhouettes
Annie Hall seems to be winning the season, according to the fashion world’s top designers, stylists, and bloggers. 70’s and 90’s inspired and stemming from the menswear-as-womenswear trend, a boxy look cinched with a belt makes you look put together and trend-savvy, and isn’t that all we want from our work wardrobe? This kind of ensemble also gives you the body you’ve always dreamed of – the contrast of a large top and bottom with a belted waist provides the illusion of an hourglass figure. Go monochromatic to give this look an extra fashion-forward push.