Summer Associate Style: What to Wear For Your Internship

Summer Associate Series: What to Wear For Your Internship | CorporetteWhat should you wear for your internship or summer associateship?  Welcome to the first installment of our Summer Associate Series! Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer. First up in our series: WHAT TO WEAR? How can you build your wardrobe without going bust?  What’s the best way to look professional on a budget?

Finally, you may want to check out some of our guides, which are updated regularly (unlike posts) –

Finally, that’s a lot to unpack, but you don’t have to worry about EVERYTHING: there is such a thing as overthinking what’s professional, like the person who wondered whether a water bottle could be unprofessional. Oh yes, and you may want to check out our guide to how to have a great first day on the job.

Readers, what advice would you give summer associates and other interns on what to wear, what not to wear? Readers who ARE interns or summer associates, what are the biggest areas of confusion for you? (Any posts from above that we should revisit more in depth, or give a more current take on?)
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Machine-Washable Blazers

Majestic Linen & Silk Blazer | CorporetteWashable blazers: are they worth buying to avoid making frequent trips to the dry cleaner?  How can you keep your non-washable blazers fresh and clean?

Reader S wonders:

Would you please consider doing a piece on washable blazers? (The goal is to avoid dry cleaning costs). Thanks.

We’ve talked about how to cool down quickly, whether short-sleeved suits are appropriate, and the best washable trousers — but not this.  I’m really curious to hear what the readers say here, because for my $.02, I would not spend time or money looking for blazers that are machine washable.  You may occasionally FIND a great blazer that is machine washable, but IMHO, I’d say you’re doing something wrong if you NEED a blazer that is machine washable. (Pictured: Majestic Linen & Silk Blazer, $305 at Nordstrom.)

Some thoughts:

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The Best Underwear for Eliminating VPL

What is the best underwear for eliminating VPL — particularly if you don’t like thongs?  I’ve gotten a number of questions about this from readers lately (and have seen it recentlyish discussed in the comments), so let’s discuss in a proper post.  Here’s Reader M’s question:

The recent post about bras also triggered me wondering what others wear for appropriate underwear, especially under work pants. I hate thongs, but I find that many “no show” undies still have lines. I am pear shaped so I have a bigger bottom, which works to my disadvantage. I have a few pair of lace Natori and Filomena that do the trick, but they have seen their better days and will need to be replaced soon.

Meanwhile, Reader J wonders:

What kind of underwear do you recommend for eliminating VPL? I just bought some gorgeous but relatively form-fitting pants and I really need some invisible underwear. (I dislike thongs because of the constant wedgie issue.)

Great questions. (Pictured: nothing, as per previous reader requests.)  We’ve talked about this before, with a discussion in 2013 about our favorite lingerie brands, as well as a discussion in 2010 about what unmentionables people like the best.  I’m on the hunt for a great new underwear brand myself, so I thought I’d peruse the reader responses to see underwear brands were mentioned the most in those posts.  (Joanna Goddard also recently asked her readers this question.)  Here are some of the greatest hits among the various posts — readers, do you have any favorites among these?  For those of you who DON’T like thongs (but don’t want visible panty lines), which brands are you wearing? [Read more...]

Summer Work Clothes: How to Look Professional When It’s Hot

Summer Work Clothes | CorporetteWhat should you wear — and not wear — to look professional (and stay cool) when it’s hot outside?  Which summer work clothes are the best?  We’ve recently gotten two reader questions on the issue.  First up, Reader M wonders:

Hi. I’m 30 years old. I am a rock and roller. Meaning that I work in the music industry. In the past my job was to chaperone the concert site. I was very good at my job. Got a new job in Orlando, FL, that has me now working at a desk. I am now a supervisor. I came into this job in the fall so I had some leftover black wool slacks, nice dark wash denim, and black sweaters to get me through. It’s now almost spring (feels like summer) and I don’t know how to do professional for summer. I work in a business casual environment, which helps. I like to keep all of my color in accents like purses, shoes, scarves, etc. I wear monochromatic. It’s my signature and super versatile when starting a new wardrobe. Can you advise cuts, fabrics, etc. of office appropriate summer wear for a newly professional, young lady like myself that’s trying to beat the heat without looking like a concertgoer?

Reader T also wonders:

I am heading to D.C. from California this summer for a legal externship, and am in need of advice on the dress code in the legal world when it’s 95 degrees. I worked on the Hill for several years and (sadly) recall a lot of flip flops and sundresses during the hotter months. I imagine that this won’t be the case in a legal setting/government agency, but I would love some basic outfit formulas, fabric suggestions (is tweed taboo?), and other ideas for a 30 yr. old to look like a lawyer while fighting the humidity and sticking to a budget.

In terms of outfit formulations, my go-to looks are boring, but they’re classic for a reason: think sheath dresses plus a blazer (to be added once you’re inside), and nice, lightweight trousers (look for cotton or cotton blends) with a nice tee and a classic pair of pumps (and ideally a matching blazer). (Pictured: Cole Haan Air Carma Open Toe Pump, on sale at Zappos for $169.99 (was $275).) As we’ve noted before, natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and linen are going to breathe a lot more than non-natural fabrics, so do pay attention to that when buying new pieces.  (Also: pay attention to the laundry instructions. That $20 pair of pants starts to look less appealing — and less of a deal — when they start to smell to high heaven after two wears and the only way to launder them is to get them drycleaned.)

We’ve talked about how to stay cool during a heatwave, but here are a few fast tips for cooling down quickly (or to stay cool enough to avoid completely wrecking your clothes):

  • a simple fan, carried in your purse or bag — yes, you’re expending more energy as you fan yourself, but the bit of a breeze can be amazing if you’re stuck on a hot subway platform
  • an ice-cold can of soda, held against the inside of your wrist, the back of your neck, or even the back of your knees
  • convenient ice packs — there are even necklaces designed to be iced and worn!

Otherwise: We’ve talked about what not to wear as a summer associate, what not to wear to work in general, and how to stay cool during a heatwave — but not in many moons.  So let’s revisit!

An opening caveat: As we’ve noted in previous discussions, this is very much a “know your office” situation.  If you’re working at a NEW office, though, or are still learning your office, you should wait until you see someone significantly more senior than you break these rules before you consider it “office culture.”  (For example: if you’re a summer associate at a law firm and see a first-year associate wearing sandals, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ok for everyone to wear sandals.)  It’s a bit of a spectrum, but here’s my list: [Read more...]

The Hunt: Sheath Dresses

The Best Sheath Dresses | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

There are a ton of cute sheath dresses out right now, so I thought we’d hunt for a few since we haven’t done a roundup since last year! Readers, what does your perfect sheath dress look like? Sleeves? Neckline? Have you gotten any amazing sheath dresses recently?

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The Hunt: Black Bags

The Hunt: Basic Black Shoulder Bags & Satchels | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

I love a tote bag as much as the next person — but for some reason, I associate smaller bags with spring and summer.  Here in NYC it means longer days, dining and drinking with friends outside, and long walks to and from work.  It also means lighter commuting shoes (ahem, flip flops usually), and less need for shoving STUFF in your bag (scarves, hats, etc).  I think a black satchel or shoulder bag is something every woman should have — some of the classics that we’ve rounded up in previous Hunts are still available, such as the Kate Spade Cobble Hill, or the Rebecca Minkoff Cupid, or the LV Pont-Neuf (rounded up in 2013)… or the Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Lil Ukita (rounded up in 2012; there are a TON of the “Classic Q” bags that one should consider here).  Readers, what is your must-have basic color for a bag?  Have you bought any great shoulder bags or satchels lately (or, do you wear any classics that are still available)? 

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