What to Wear to an Internship Interview

Internships are an important part of career development, and like any job, acing your interview is one part of getting the position you want. Making a great first impression - coming across as polished, professional and attentive - is important when it comes to your internship search.

Whether you're interviewing in a formal environment, at a casual workplace, or at a startup company, this guide to interviewing attire will help you get started planning just what to wear to an interview for an internship.

Dressed Up Without a Suit

White dress shirt and tie
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If you're interviewing for a professional position but you don't think a full-suit is required, a crisp white button-down and a sleek, solid tie is a great option. It looks dressy, professional and polished, without appearing stuffy. But, if you're going to forego a jacket, take the extra effort to make sure your shirt is wrinkle-free, stain-free, and otherwise pristine.

Classic, Polished, and Professional

Business woman sitting at conference table
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Looking for an outfit that's simple but classic, polished but professional? Consider a fitted white button-down. Details like the pin-tucking here offer a nice update to the basic button-down look, resulting in an outfit that is modern and fashion-forward, but still appropriate for an internship interview.

Interviewing in a more casual environment for a non-professional position or at a startup company? Throw on a pair of khakis and flats. Seeking an internship at a large, top-notch company? Opt for a pair of black slacks, or a knee-length skirt, with classic pumps.

Sweater Over a Button-Down Shirt

Team meetings
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A sweater layered over a button-down shirt is a great go-to look that spans both business formal and business casual, making it a great option for when you aren't positive just how dressy you should be.

A nice, tailored sweater adds a touch of class, dressing up your button-down, but looking more relaxed than a suit coat or blazer might. Pair the combination with dress slacks and you're ready to go.

Lighten Up Spring and Summer Interview Attire

White blazer with trim
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If you're aiming for a summer internship, chances are you'll be interviewing in the spring, when the weather starts to warm up. A light-colored blazer, a tailored blouse, or a cardigan and shell, paired with cotton slacks or a skirt are all solid choices for a warm-weather interview.

Plus, you'll be a lot more comfortable - and thus ready to perform well - in lightweight, light-colored clothing than you would be in a dark, heavy suit.

Business Casual or Casual Work Environments

Intern working in office
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If you're seeking an internship at a startup company or in a business casual environment, you aren't confined to the basic suit-and-tie combination.

Don't be afraid to experiment with modern, fashion-forward hues, like this sweater paired with a coordinating shirt, or pants. Although you shouldn't go too crazy, casual environments give you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and express your personality - so long as you look professional.

Blazer With Skinny Pants

Happy office worker
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Pair a fitted blazer, white button-down, and grey "skinny" pants together for a modern look that's also workplace appropriate. The outfit is finished off with a pair of loafers and a simple statement necklace, which pulls the look together without looking overdone. This is a great go-to interview outfit that's easy to pull together but looks stylishly polished.

Business Internship Interview Attire

Businessmen looking at smart phone at table
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If you're interviewing for a professional-type position at a company that requires business-formal dress, you'll likely need to wear a suit.

But, you don't have to wear the bulky black suit typical of older employees. While it's definitely imperative that you have a well-fitted suit jacket and slacks, adding a stylish touch - like a layered cardigan, sans tie - looks modern, yet still professional.

That Little Black Dress

Women wearing black dress and tights
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A tasteful "little black dress" is the hallmark of a simple yet refined business wardrobe, perfect for interviewing in a formal environment. Invest in a quality dress that skims the knee. A dress with a structured fit and nice details (like the capped sleeves here) is professional yet still modern.

To give your outfit some life, pair the dress with a pair of textured tights, like the ones shown here. Make sure the pattern is subtle, though - a sheer stripe, cable pattern or ribbed look adds texture and interest, but anything that resembles outright fishnets is not workplace appropriate.

Finish your outfit with a pair of black heels for a classic, timeless business formal look that you can continue to wear even after you get hired.

Use Accessories to Dress Up Your Outfit

Student having conversation on cell phone outdoors
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If you're interviewing for a business internship position, but think the environment might be veering towards the "business casual" end of the spectrum, add a fun touch to your outfit.

While you don't want to overdo it with accessories, adding one statement piece - a stylish scarf, a necklace, a cardigan, a pair of shoes - makes for an outfit that is professional without seeming stuffy.