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the stylist’s notebook | at the internship

17 May 2009

For dearest Jaime of La Sweet Petite:

I need your help! I am going to London in 2 weeks for an internship and I just found out the dress code is “smart casual.” What are your suggestions?!

You always have the best ideas!

While I am one of the lucky few who have the luxury of interning in the comfort of my own home (thank you, Letitia!), one who slaves away in front of my darling laptop clad in sweatpants and frumpy tees with hair awry and toe socks.


I kid. The above statement, if true, would completely degrade my entire persons, not because I value my appearance so much to the point of shallowness, but well, because the world around you judges you based upon first impression. And by first impression, it is not you who is judged first – but it is what you wear and how you look that leaves the first imprint. Society today judges the book by its cover; regardless of what your mother always told you, appearance  a l w a y s matters.

Although I do work at home, I have envisioned ensembles, say, if I were to intern/work at fabulous magazines such as Teen Vogue, Vogue, ELLE, etc. (And if there are any of the aforementioned magazine’s human resources or staff who are in need of an assistant/intern, I shall be more than happy to oblige!). All future outfits are derivatives of the ever-inspirational muses: Katherine Heigl, Emmy Rossum, Natalie Portman, and anything Katherine wears from the movie, 27 Dresses.

{so, what to wear?}

Avoid denim! I absolutely loathe giving “what not to wear” tidbits – it is hardly my job to be fashion police. However chic denim might be, and regardless of the dress code being “smart casual”, denim is simply too casual for work. The only ones that may work (depending on where your internship is) would be dark wash skinnies (deep blues or black) and/or wide leg denim trousers.


Embrace classics. The word “smart” is simply synonymous to classy sophistication in the world of dress codes. Translation: Black will always be the new black. Regardless of what era it is, the time of day, your age. Black is  t i m e l e s s . Every internship wardrobe should consist of a little black dress similar to the one Katherine Heigl is wearing in 27 Dresses (2nd from the right): short sleeves, a conservative neckline, fitted, knee length. Propriety is a necessity – and it is nearly impossible to go wrong with the classics. Little jackets, cropped jackets, blazers, trouser shorts, the classic pencil skirt, the black pump (stiletto optional) – all of which make up the basics of a chic yet appropriate wardrobe for internships. I love, love, love each and every one of these looks.

Accessorizing. As you’ve heard time and time again, accessories are the way in which you show a bit of personality when the dress code restricts your personal style. But be minimal – a cocktail ring, a few bangles, and a necklace at most (or substitute a cocktail ring for smaller rings). Nothing too clunky to avoid it becoming a constant nuisance whilst your work. Remember – you want to look chic and still maintain that air of sophistication where you work – anything too much would be, well, too much. Rachel Zoe’s impeccable talent at accessorizing herself should be the most jewelry worn at once; anything more is over the top.

Hair & Makeup. In an which way you wish; as long as you’re comfortable with it and isn’t too much of a hassle, the sky’s the limit! I personally wear my hair down – always – but occasionally pulling it into a polished high or low, side pony are perfect for getting hair out of your face. Be unfussy with your hair & makeup – natural, as they say, is always best. Neutral shadows, barely-there liner (look to Balmain Spring 09 erased brown liner for inspiration), a bit of mascara, neutral lip gloss or lip stick.  MAC Viva Glam V is a gorgeous mauve-nude.

{ensembles, for your perusal.}

InternshipThe very definition of smart casual. Smart in that the outfit consists of pleated trousers, a lovely blouse, and the classic, pointed pumps. But casual – and a bit unconventional – in that the fabrics are all cotton or stretch jersey, and the pump is in a rather unusual patent navy. Gray and navy has always been one of my favorite color combinations; the over look is cool, sophisticated and a bit effortless in that there are references to the Parisian school child. Blouse tucked in with a leather tote over the shoulder (totes are essential for all that stuff you need to carry!). And of course, a clutch thrown into your bag if your boss should ever invite you to a last minute evening cocktail of some sort.

Internship2It is almost unnecessary to say that this particular ensemble was inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 2009 collection (I’m quite obsessed with the rtw show!). I am enamored by the idea of high waisted, loose fitted trousers cuffed at the bottom. And juxtaposition is quite important; the Peter Pan collared, little-school-girl-uniform-esque blouse tucked in is offset by the industrial qualities of the YSL cage boot (I die – I simply love how this one is much more simplistic than then others down the runway). Since the overall ensemble is rather cool, a bit of gold jewelry adds warmth – I am completely obsessed with the cocktail ring and single bangle combination.

Internship3Yet another ensemble that balances smart & casual to perfection. Instead of the usual tailored, high waisted skirt, a jersey option – like one from American Apparel – is a more comfortable option in both budget and style. I absolutely adore the paradox of a graphic tee with something much more professional; the two combined gives such an effortlessly cool look. Patent oxford booties and the Marc Jacobs bag tie the entire look together; finish off with a bracelet or two and a cocktail ring (the Chanel flower juxtaposes with the sharp V-neck tee and bold graphics/colors).


I die. I want to own each and every one of the pieces in this particular outfit I’ve put together. The dress? Sheer perfection; I love how formal and casual it has the potential to be: formal in that a LBD is always versatile for any occasion and that the satin stripes are such an unconventional touch, and casual in that the dress is about mid-length and has capsleeves. And I simly cannot deny that I was thinking of Rachel Zoe when accessorizing; black and gold is always a no-fail combination; the House of Harlow ring on the same hand as the gold bangles whilst the other wrist wears the large leather cuff. Classic black pumps with an unusual twist via platform and red Nars nail lacquer (from the vintage collection) is perfection. Chic? I’d say so.


La C.

56 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 May 2009 5:52 pm

    I love every single one of ur posts! 🙂
    I do not have twitter, I don’t even know how it works really, it’s not that popular here, although I’ve seen urs. I have facebook though.
    I’ve been watching the Rachel Zoe Project due to ur recommendation. Love it!

  2. 17 May 2009 6:01 pm

    The first look was my favorite; though I absolutely adore how you paired a casual Paris-emblazoned tee with a black pencil skirt to convey a smart yet sassy personality. And the House of Harlow ring? Love with a capital L. I’m telling you, if I had the expendable cash I would buy each and every piece of the House of Harlow collection. As always, marvlous post! 🙂

  3. 17 May 2009 6:41 pm

    I love everything you put together and in the perfect timing. I am running out of ideas for work wardrobe and now I have inspiration. Thank you La C!

  4. 17 May 2009 7:05 pm

    Thank you SO SO SO much! Great ideas!!

  5. kristine permalink
    17 May 2009 7:33 pm

    omg the outfits you put together are stunning! i wish you put up your outfit posts =]

    please be a stylist one day!

  6. 17 May 2009 8:31 pm

    Awesome post! I think all those ideas will be useful in upcoming months, since I plan to start interning somewhere. Don’t know where, but somewhere, lol.

    The first look is definitely something I’d picture myself in. 🙂

    Thanks for the sweet comment.


  7. 17 May 2009 8:37 pm

    Love your blog!

  8. 17 May 2009 8:43 pm

    of course i love the color scheme you chose for the outfits, i’m so into grey these days too, i don’t know why.

    i also love layering with cardigans and then the jewerly, i know for my first day at the internship, i think i’ll just go with a loose grey vneck tee, black leggings, and my black boots with the ribbon ties in the back.

    when i asked about dress, my boss had said anything comfortable, so it looks like i’m losing the heels and just staying with my style. after all, i’ll probably be sent to roam the streets and such. but i’m hoping to do a lot of office work with a first hand look at everything to do with accessories.

    oh the excitement, i’ll keep you updated La C, and i hope to make you proud with my fashion choices!

  9. 17 May 2009 8:57 pm

    Amazing post! I love everything you picked, and fab tips!


  10. 17 May 2009 9:19 pm

    excellent post!!!

    and it always cracks me up when magazines have features like “black is back!”. it NEVER goes away or goes out of style. ever.

  11. 17 May 2009 9:42 pm

    Wow, every outfit you put together is fabulous.
    I must admit sometimes I don’t follow the rules in terms of what an intern should wear. I was once told you should dress for the position you want. So I always follow that.

  12. 17 May 2009 10:34 pm

    Ooooooooo. The first look is beyond delicious!

  13. 17 May 2009 10:49 pm

    I love the first and third look! 🙂

  14. 17 May 2009 11:01 pm

    great advice! i hope to have a fabulous internship to dress up for next summer! xfingers crossedx

  15. 17 May 2009 11:06 pm

    Hello La C. You always do wonderful posts. I really enjoyed this one. Great tips for people. I hope you had a nice weekend. Cheers!

  16. 18 May 2009 12:15 am

    Love the Harlow ring!


  17. 18 May 2009 12:55 am

    this is wonderful advice! I’m gonna browse your archives for the next hour. I have nothing to do, and I like your writing style.

  18. 18 May 2009 3:14 am

    Hi there-a fabulous post and I adore the Paris tee!!

  19. 18 May 2009 3:38 am

    I love all that outfits and the movies!!!

  20. 18 May 2009 3:41 am

    Love love love the last outfit!

  21. 18 May 2009 4:30 am

    what a cute blog! :):)

  22. 18 May 2009 7:45 am

    Bonjour La C!
    I adore all of your creations; espeically the YSL inspired one and the Graphic Paris Tee.

    Your Writing is amazing as per usual!


  23. 18 May 2009 8:20 am

    Fabulous advice…the outfits you picked out are simply amazing. Perfectly smart, yet not stuffy or boring. Love the second one with those amazing YSLs!

  24. 18 May 2009 10:07 am

    amazing post! I love all the looks! preferably the one with the Chanel cocktail ring! and i can’t even begin to tell you how bad I want the YSL cage boots

  25. 18 May 2009 11:02 am

    black is always the new black indeed 🙂 I adore katherine heigl.

  26. 18 May 2009 12:12 pm

    I agree, WHERE you intern is fundamental.
    If it’s a fashion agency/magazine/other rules change from the usual. But not as much as people might think.
    Lucy =)

  27. 18 May 2009 12:49 pm

    Fabulous collages and advice, darling La C! I love House of Harlow!


  28. 18 May 2009 1:12 pm

    love these outfits, the grey tee is so pretty yet smart!! 🙂


  29. 18 May 2009 1:35 pm

    I like the T-shirt “Paris”

  30. 18 May 2009 1:43 pm

    Thanks I found this blog really useful, I’ll recommend it to friends.

  31. 18 May 2009 1:47 pm

    I love this post! I need to do an internship in a few months so thank you for the tips!

  32. 18 May 2009 2:05 pm

    I just love the paris Tshirt !

  33. 18 May 2009 2:28 pm

    what a great post. most of the interns at gal pal’s office are really all very fashionable.

  34. 18 May 2009 2:36 pm

    Fantastic selection La C! I really love that gray shirt with bow!


  35. 18 May 2009 2:37 pm

    Great post! I have to wear things like this everyday now so it’s certainly inspiring! The second and third outfits are so fantastic!

  36. 18 May 2009 3:06 pm

    Reading your advice is better than any advice column I read in a magazine. It’s very friendly, personal and easy to follow with great outfit ideas! xxoxoxox

  37. 18 May 2009 3:16 pm

    Such great outfits and advice, La C! You really came through for your reader. I agree with your call on avoiding denim. Although dark denim with no rips or tears is acceptable for casual office environments, when I was in London I noticed that people there dress a notch above us casual North Americans (and especially above us West Coast folks!). The other tip I would give this person is to observe how other stylish chicas have interpreted “smart casual” in the office.

  38. 18 May 2009 4:03 pm

    I’m gonna hire you as a personal stylist one day! 🙂 Love all these looks, but especially the accessories. They really pack a punch into classic.

  39. 18 May 2009 4:17 pm

    such a great post!!!

  40. milly permalink
    18 May 2009 4:53 pm

    Great ideas!

  41. 18 May 2009 6:20 pm

    Little black dress ensemble is to-die-for. You’re classic.

    I’d add short, silk scarves around the neck; it gets cold around here now 😉


  42. 18 May 2009 7:57 pm

    You can never go wrong with YSL RTW!

  43. becs permalink
    18 May 2009 9:27 pm

    Ok, 27 Dresses is one of my fav movies, and love Katherine’s style in it. Fab tips that could be applicable to any working woman! Love reading your posts.. I always feel so much better informed, and yes, first impressions are everything!

    xo, Becs

  44. 18 May 2009 11:27 pm

    This really is a great post. Every morning I am a little worried when I get dressed for the office. Its hard to work at a fashion magazine and draw the line between casual and work appropriate. My editors wear denim, but I agree with you, it is often too casual! xo

  45. 19 May 2009 6:28 am

    That LBD that you posted is gorgeous! What brand is it?

    By the way, I have put your blog as one of my links in my new blog, I hope you don’t mind =)

  46. 19 May 2009 7:50 am

    Great post! You answer to a so difficult question.

  47. 19 May 2009 10:52 am

    Great post thanks

  48. 19 May 2009 7:40 pm

    Wow! Thanks for another great in depth post – a pleasure to read 🙂

  49. 20 May 2009 5:39 pm

    Terrific post!

  50. rossovelvet permalink
    21 May 2009 7:33 am

    Fantastic post, your FAQ are always helpful !

  51. 24 May 2009 3:17 pm

    Love this post! This was ridiculously useful to me. And may I add that I am lusting after that Paris Tee so badly?

    Trisch xo

  52. 11 June 2009 8:03 am

    Wonderful Website!
    Chaise Lounge

  53. 11 June 2009 8:03 am

    I like a Chaise Lounge.

  54. Mily permalink
    6 May 2010 6:49 pm

    This post is way off the mark. For most workplaces you would look completely overdone and outdated if you turned up wearing these outfits. The outfits you suggest would be perfect for a smart office. It completely depends what industry your internship is in, if it’s fashion then jeans would be fine- in fact denim on denim would be even better!
    London is extremely casual and unless you’re going to work in finance or the like I would steer clear of these outfits and stick to skinny jeans, pumps and a blazer. The most important thing is to feel comfortable in your own skin, be careful of playing ‘dress up’ xx

    • 6 May 2010 8:53 pm

      @Mily: Style is rather subjective; these looks may not be relevant to many people’s style, but for few (like me!), this is just how some dress on a daily basis. I do feel perfectly comfortable in outfits like these!

      The industry is definitely important. As sad as it is true, appearances are important. It’s fine if you think this is off the mark (but perfect for a smart office?), you’re entitled to your opinon.


  1. what to wear: in the corporate world « la couturier

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