I’ve been having a little trouble adapting my near uniform of athleisure to the working world so I asked a bunch of my friends to tell me about how they dress for their summer jobs (in a variety of fields). Then I went through my own closet to force myself to wear real adult clothing.
I have amazing friends, working in a variety of sectors across the country (and the world!), so I called upon them to teach me how to get dressed for work. This is what they said!
I work in two very different areas: an office space and in my own photography business. Mixing the two into one cohesive wardrobe was difficult at first but over time I’ve been able to pull together pieces that work in a more professional environment as well as my creative life outside of the office.
For me, I’ve always wanted comfort in work outfits but I didn’t want to compromise trends and style for that. I love to bring in one pattern piece with a solid or do something a little strange like combine a dress with a larger sweater for a more relaxed look. I believe you can be 100% comfortable without looking sloppy by simply finding what works best for you and trying different things.
I work as an intern at a law firm that covers asbestos and mesothelioma cases. Everyone dresses pretty formally with blazers, suits, and the works, but they aren’t too stringent on the dress code.
Everything I own is floral so this pretty much a summary of all of my work outfits. It’s too hot to wear pants, so I prefer a long skirt and blouse. It’s still formal but much more comfortable and summery.
Elizabeth is a rising second year at the University of Chicago. She just wrote a book called The Hollow People, which you can read (like, comment, and vote for!) here!
I’m working with a young, Israeli Fintech startup in New York this summer, with a very very loose dress code. I usually pick my outfits based on how adult I want to feel that day. But the real goal is to find something that keeps me cool in the subway and warm in the office.
Jenny is a rising third year at the University of Chicago.
This summer (and year round) I’m working at Madewell, a women’s clothing store owned by J.Crew. We’re known for awesome jeans, gorgeous leather bags, and cool clothes so it’s pretty fun to get dressed for work, and there are always so many options.
We’re encouraged to dress by the third piece rule that J.Crew uses. It basically means that in addition to a top and bottoms, you include a statement necklace, shirt around the waist, jacket, bandana scarf, etc. to make your outfit a little more interesting. I’m not limited to traditional work clothes so I pretty much wear our jeans and a tee or tank (it’s hella hot in Florida in the summertime).
The other two pictures show me on the job doing what we call a Fit Session, where I try on pieces so I can tell our customers how they fit. I got to create these looks myself and get paid while doing it – so I guess you could say I love my job!
Jillian is a rising junior at Vanderbilt University. Follow her on Instagram @jill.jack_.
My summer internship was working in a public hospital in Madrid and I mostly worked with patients with eating disorders. Keeping that in mind, I never wore any clothes that were too tight or showed too much not only to be professional, but also to be respectful to the environment I was working in.
I was told everyone would dress casually and that seemed to be true. To be honest, it didn’t matter too much what I wore because I had a white doctors coat on top. Due to the extreme heat of Madrid in the summer, I mainly stuck to nice dresses or rompers.
Sarah is a rising junior at Wake Forest University. You can check out all her adventures in Spain on her Instagram @sar_in_spain.
For my first job post-grad, I’m interning for a food-delivery startup. While my bosses never gave me a specific dress code and although startup culture tends to be more lax, I make a conscious effort to dress up for work everyday. It helps me get into a more professional mindset. Usually that means dresses or blouses/work pants combo, but occasionally I’ll wear jeans but I always pair them with a nice top!
This past semester, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at NASA headquarters. I was told that dress was business casual, but I chose to keep my wardrobe more on the business side. I incorporated a variety of clothes including pantsuits in the traditional black and navy blue, dresses (with sweaters and tights in the winter), and blouses in vibrant colors. My lovely grandmother also sent me a number of scarves to make any outfit stand out.
As a teenager and as a woman, I knew that I would be taken more seriously from the first impression the more professionally I dressed. Dressing up is never a bad thing, and that way I was always ready whenever my boss would invite me to meet with an important official or go to a reception on Capitol Hill.
As a summer intern for Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy, I never know if I’ll be meeting with clients, organization leaders, or other politicians, so I find that it’s always best to play it safe and dress to impress. I live by the motto that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Looking put together helps me feel more confident in what I’m doing, both in and outside of the office.
Maddie is a rising fourth year at the University of Chicago.
I’m working at a non-profit this summer, so the dress code is on the more casual side of business casual. I was wearing nice blouses that covered the butt of my leggings with flats and a cardigan (because is it really an office if it doesn’t feel like the tundra?).
I wanted to be taken a little more seriously, especially since I’ve started taking on some new roles that involve presenting and meeting with people outside my team. However, I didn’t want to be boring either, so I tried to incorporate some fun shapes and colors.
Honestly, this red blazer is the greatest thing to happen to me and I firmly believe every woman should have a colorful blazer.
Special thanks to all these incredible women that sent me pictures! I loved hearing about their jobs and dress codes!
Where are you working this summer? How do you handle your office dress code?