Capitol Hill Dressing Requires Polished Look

Posted June 4, 2010 at 3:23pm

Trying to navigate the world of professional fashion can be tricky. Sure, you’ve got low-cut tops and tattered jeans in your wardrobe that are perfect for college life, but what should you be wearing on the job? We took a few minutes to chat with the blogger “Belle,” an anonymous Hill staffer with a flair for fashion, about what interns should be wearing to work. You can read more of her advice on her blog,

Q: Why does what you wear to work matter?

A: It’s important for interns to dress professionally, because a well-dressed intern who is also willing to learn and competent will be treated with a higher level of respect. If you look the part of a professional staff member, then your wardrobe becomes the physical manifestation of your internal sense of professionalism. It’s difficult to believe that the intern in the Havianas [flip-flops] thinks of herself as a professional, so why should I?

Q: What’s the most common fashion mistake you see interns make?

A: The most common mistake I see interns making is that their clothes are ill-fitting. Pants that are too short, skirts that are too tight or short, boxy jackets and tight tops are the worst. You can buy a $100 suit and make it look like a $500 suit if you choose a good fabric and pay a few dollars for a tailor. Ideally, everything you buy — except tees and sweaters — should be tailored.

Q: Can you recommend an affordable place for interns to buy work clothing?

A: The Limited, Express, H&M and Zara are all good places to start. Try to choose natural fabrics or cotton and wool blends whenever possible; nothing looks cheaper than polyester.

Q: Do you have advice for interns who want to wear the outfit they wear to work out to the bar?

A: I love sequin tops for work. A sequin tee or tank under a cardigan, a blazer or a v-neck sweater is really cute. Just pair it with a black or navy pencil skirt, and you are good for day or night. Also, investing in some transitional dresses that can do double duty is a definite must.

Q: If there is one golden fashion rule all interns should remember, what is it?

A: The golden rule of intern style is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. You might get a free pass because you’re an intern, but if you use it, it’s like saying that you don’t care about moving up the ladder.