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Help me decode "business casual" for this internship! - Page 3

post #31 of 42
An intern probably should dress like an intern, albeit a non-sloppy intern. In a workplace, it's important to announce rank. Nobody is likely to openly criticize someone for wearing wool pants, but if the perception of someone wearing them is for example "snooty" or a fop, it's not going to help employee relations. By the way, the advice given hasn't been for the first day specifically, where dressing up (sportcoat) might be a good way to announce the arrival. Also, brown wool pants look less formal than possibly all other common colors, and wearing wool pants once in a while (probably not on casual Fridays) shouldn't hurt an intern.
Edited by mensimageconsultant - 3/28/13 at 10:47am
post #32 of 42
from an IT/Finance business casual environment here....
imo, OCBD shirts are fine, cotton/wool are good choices...jackets/tie are optional but don't wear tie w/o SC/jacket. Ideally, as long you come in clean,tidy and do you effin job and show some initiative w/o being a "know it all" jackass, you'll fit right in...
one of our interns this past winter showed up in Tweed Jacket and flannel trousers..he even noticed my shoes as shell....SF member? I doubt it. I(we) like him a lot, not because of his clothes (although extra points from me) but his attitude...we'll call him back for the nxt round...
post #33 of 42
Thread Starter 

I didn't realize that the forum doesn't notify you about new posts in the threads you start. Well I read through all the comments and have done some shopping accordingly.


So far I have 5 dress shirts (nicely tailored to fit), 3 cotton dress pants (black, charcoal grey, and british tan), and a walnut AE shoe. In terms of quantity, would this be a fairly decent amount of clothes to late me throughout the summer without destroying them from overuse? Maybe I need more shirts, pants, and god forbid, another shoe worthy of an investment...?

post #34 of 42
Sounds like you have enough clothes and are good to go.

Maybe it's already been said - but I will re-iterate this - because you should be careful about letting StyleForum dress you. People around here tend to think that all people in their office care as much about clothes as we do - they don't.

Don't wear a tie unless other people are doing it. When no one else does it and you do - it's a mark of separation - and people who will never notice anything else about your clothes will definetley notice that.

As for the watch - in the typical North American work place no one cares what watch you wear. The average person can't tell a Patek Phillipe from a Kenneth Cole and will probably never notice it. If you are so fortunate as to own a giant Rolex - wear it.

I don't know where this "wool pants being snooty" thing comes from - I've never heard that one. I've worked in plenty of places that were business casual and they were all the same - business casual in North America generally means

1) a pair of chinos or wool pants - (no 5-pocket pants)
2) a collared shirt that's tucked in
3) a pair of dress shoes (just not sneakers)

that's pretty much all they expect and 99% of people will never go beyond that. I'm the only person in my office who regularly wears a sport coat or suit w/o tie other than our VP Finance - people may think I look nice, but no one is going to give me a promotion because of it.

I work with many IT people - most of them struggle to comply with the 3 rules I outlined above - they have no idea what an OCBD is, what an expensive watch looks like, and they probably don't own any blazers - but they do the job and they get paid for it which is what you're really after anyways. Good luck!
Edited by FidelCashflow - 4/7/13 at 8:38pm
post #35 of 42
Originally Posted by mensimageconsultant View Post

Educated guess: that's the kind of environment where wool pants on a low-level employee would be perceived by some as overdressing. Cotton dress trousers would be safer. No sport coat, please.

Umm... what are you basing this on??? I've worked in plenty of business casual offices - wool pants are just fine. The employee handbook usually says something like "no denim" which leaves pretty much anything else including wool as OK.

Remember - most people who work in these environments don't really care about clothes - half of them probably couldn't tell you if their pants are wool or cotton without checking the tags.
post #36 of 42
Thread Starter 

Just realized that I only have two solid color shirt out of the five. I feel as if the number of solid color shirts should either equal or exceed the number of patterned shirt at this point in time (as I'm slowly creating my business casual wardrobe). What do other think? More solid or more patterned shirts?

post #37 of 42

If you wear ties and jackets, solid shirts are indeed the mainstay (some would even declare the light blue solid shirt to be the OneShirt, foo.gif). However, if you only wear a shirt (+ maybe a sweater) with no tie, you can afford to wear a shirt with a bolder pattern since there is no tie to clash with. IMHO, the pattern on the shirt creates some welcome visual interest in such an ensemble which can be otherwise quite bland. So, I wouldn't sweat it - just don't wear your boldly patterned shirts with a tie and you'll be fine.

post #38 of 42
I would dump the black pants. Black wool is bad enough (during the day), but black cotton looks bad.
post #39 of 42
I'm surprised nobody's picked up on what is easily the OP's biggest career liability: his crappy, outdated flip phone. You may not think this is a big deal, but if you're interning at a tech company, people expect you to be plugged into the latest technology. Especially mobile technology. I'm sure I will be accused of overanalyzing this, but trust me: people at tech companies can and will eyeball the difference between iPhone model numbers, let alone the difference between smartphones and flip phones.

The OP is smart to be a little nervous about his phone. That said, I wouldn't wear a flashy watch as an intern. People may not be able to tell a Rolex from a Timex, but if they spot a chunky, gold or silver banded watch, they'll think he's a rich kid. Nobody likes a rich kid, especially a rich kid intern. Interns occupy a very low status within the company, and they are valued to the extent that they seem smart and work their asses off. An intern who even inadvertently displays some sort of wealth or privilege will send a signal that he's entitled, or that he doesn't need to work hard. Ignore this important psychological dynamic of the workplace at your peril.

As Fidel mentioned w/r/t neckties as "points of separation," same thing applies to blazers and sportcoats. Don't wear them at a tech or software company, unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb. As an intern, you don't want to stick out for anything other than your winning personality and rock-solid work ethic. You may or may not come off as out of touch, elitist, entitled, dorky, etc., if you dress very differently from your peers -- but why take the risk? If there's even a decent chance that overdressing will subject you to prejudices (and there is), it's not worth the risk.

An earlier poster said something along the lines of "underdressing is always fatal, but overdressing is not." Not at a tech company. Overdressing is, as the jargon goes, a CLM (career-limiting move).

Whether wool pants constitute overdressing is a subject for debate, but I'd say you're fine there. The majority of your peers will be wearing dress shirts and cotton khakis or wool trousers (probably black; please don't do this). If jeans are considered acceptable, many of them will probably be in jeans as often as they can. But don't you do that. Best to err on the safe side, at least for the first few weeks.
post #40 of 42
Originally Posted by Big Texas View Post

An earlier poster said something along the lines of "underdressing is always fatal, but overdressing is not." Not at a tech company. Overdressing is, as the jargon goes, a CLM (career-limiting move).
I work in a small software shop... No dress code, but jeans or cargo shorts with a t-shirt would be it. Wearing khakis and a dress shirt is noticed in the"oh, you've got an interview"way... Not good!

Most places I've worked with a business casual dress code means just that. A tie would be out of place. A jacket might be OK, but not generally worn. Where you can show some style is in your shoes-well polished dress shoes are never inappropriate and show attention to detail.
post #41 of 42
OP, you should have two pairs of shoes. Wearing the same pair of shoes everyday will wear them out prematurely and that is not something you want to happen with nice shoes.
Originally Posted by msulinski View Post

I would dump the black pants. Black wool is bad enough (during the day), but black cotton looks bad.

+1. Also, walnut shoes with black dress pants = fail IMO.
Originally Posted by FidelCashflow View Post

I don't know where this "wool pants being snooty" thing comes from - I've never heard that one.

post #42 of 42
Thread Starter 

Big Texas:thanks for the heads up, I'll consider my flip phone situation as it was more of a personal preference issue as I have yet had the desire to spend a whole lot on a data plan.


I've also gauged the work attire at the company during my visit for interviews and I can confidently say that it is business casual but not THAT causal. I've had the interviewer wear a dress shirt + tie + sweater combo, so I'm guessing I'll be safe in terms of wearing cotton dress pants with dress shirts.


But the question now becomes whether or not I have  good number of clothes to last me this summer without wearing them out significantly from having few in rotation.

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