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Project Beltway: Think cardigans, not Kardashians

Jenna Johnson

To kick off Intern Fashion Week, I asked Rachel Cothran of Project Beltway to share some quick tips.

Your internship is not the place to assert your youth and independence from workaday drudgery. So, think cardigans, not Kardashians.

projectbeltway.jpgBut, with that being said ... I remember struggling to navigate dress codes on my first job; I knew it was important to be professional, but I also didn't want to dress like the thirtysomethings in my office. I think one of the best ways to feel and look like yourself at work is to introduce color, wear interesting accessories and follow these rules:

No exposed bra straps!
Yes, it's hot on the walk from the Metro to the office. While it's fine to wear a camisole or tank top for the sticky commute, there's no excuse for exposed bra straps. This is not the time to try out the underwear-as-outerwear trend. Invest in a good strapless bra -- I recommend going down a band size. And when you get to the office, cover up (in your cute, bright cardigan).

Don't get caught in a flip-flop-flap
Sandals are just as easy to wear as flip-flops, and they are far more office-appropriate. Plus, being an intern means that you may be running around a good deal more than your paid counterparts (ie, those who actually work in your office), so you need to be in reasonably comfortable footwear. Don't make the mistake of commuting in flip-flops, changing into shoes that cut up your feet to the point of blisters ... and then having only the flip-flops to run around in all day. Buy wedges or embellished flats and you'll look put-together for the whole day.

Keep your button-down G-rated
A friend of mine works on the Hill, doing communications for a congressman, and she urges interns to always wear a camisole under a button-down shirt. "It's not cool to see the bra through the gape between two buttons. Even worse: when your shirt comes undone. This happened to me once in front of the congressman, and thank god for my camisole."

And fashion isn't just for the ladies ...
I suspect the guys feel a little overshadowed, so I spoke to a male friend who works as a political communications consultant. His advice for guys: No athletic socks (apparently he sees this a lot!), but feel free to have fun with your socks by trying out cool colors or patterns. Don't wear brown shoes with black pants. And always wear collar stays.

About Rachel Cothran
Rachel started Project Beltway, a DC style and fashion blog, several years ago because she was tired of hearing that Washingtonians had no sense of style. When not blogging, she works in the public relations department at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and writes a weekly style column for called Sidewalk Style. You can reach her at

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all D.C. interns. So, make sure to bookmark You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  |  July 19, 2010; 3:16 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Interns  | Tags: Fashion, Internships  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Get excited for 'Intern Fashion Week'
Next: Career clothing on an intern budget


I have seen interns come to the job acting very wild, and enjoying the attention they get by being young and attractive, which encourages them to act and dress the part. Sometimes this can get them into some very difficult situations. The vast majority of interns however are really looking for professional working experience, so advice like that provided in this article will help those interns who haven't given their clothes enough thought.

Bernard Schuster

Posted by: arrive2dotnet | July 20, 2010 4:34 AM | Report abuse

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