- You’ll probably wear formal clothes about 5 days a week. If you aren’t wearing your professional attire, sport some lightweight, light-colored fabrics like cotton and linen that dry quickly.
- On the weekends, there’s no shame in shorts and t-shirts, or anything that will help you to survive the intense heat and humidity mentioned above.
- First thing’s first: Speak to your supervisor(s) about office attire if you haven’t already. Every office is unique, and this is critical to guaranteeing a good first impression and successful internship.
- General practices: D.C. is more professional than most cities, and thus the attire is usually conservative. If you’re in a situation where you’re thinking about going either casual or professional, choose professional.
- Color: That being said, D.C. tends to be neutral in its attire, but you can integrate a pop of color in your ties, blouses, or heels. Just don’t go overboard with a super colorful outfit.
- In government: For those interning on the Hill or with a federal agency, it’s especially important to be dressed appropriately at all times. Your friend at a startup gets to wear jeans to work — but it doesn’t matter for you (if your supervisor says yes to jeans or offers that Fridays are casual, still err on the side of caution). Dress codes are rigorously enforced on the Hill, particularly in the Speaker’s Lobby, the galleries, and on the floor.
- Suggestions for men: Dark suit, solid white (or sometimes blue) dress shirt, and tie — always. If you’re on the Hill, you must wear a blazer even more so than you have to wear a tie.
- Suggestions for women: Blouses, blazers, some long skirts, slacks and dresses are the norm. If you’re wearing a dress, you usually have to have your shoulders covered. If you’re wearing slacks, you must wear a jacket.
- Get comfortable shoes: You’re walking a lot before, during, and after work, and you don’t want blisters or bleeding. It’s not uncommon for women to switch shoes (usually to more formal flats, more rarely heels) before and after security. Make sure your shoes are not open-toed.
- Note: Try not to wear anything metal. It will make your life easier and speed up the lines. (Men will sometimes be asked to lift their pant legs so that security can see up to the top of their socks.)
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