by Caroline Thomas
Before I realized that a Georgetown student with a Hillternship is about as groundbreaking as pastels in spring, I was full of new intern enthusiasm. Naturally, a good amount of my excitement and nervous energy was directed towards what on earth I would wear during my six weeks in the Senate office. My first couple days were spent scavenging through my closet and my mom’s, wearing ill-fitted, borrowed blazers and flats I hadn’t touched since maybe eighth grade. I was (and still am) baffled by the oxymoron that is “business casual.” As an intern, the Hill is definitely too business for denim and cotton, but still too casual for heels and suit separates. You should look professional, but not too professional, because you are an intern, after all, and you can’t take yourself too seriously.
realized I needed to go on a shopping spree – but not a real shopping spree, because I am an unpaid intern – if I wanted to survive the next six weeks without dying of heat stroke or looking extraordinarily frumpy in my mom’s work wardrobe. My first Hill-attire dilemma was the near absence of heels in the office. In my opinion, most business dresses and skirts hit the knees at a length that looks wonderful with heels, but somehow makes me look about four feet tall in my eighth-grade throwback flats. I’m partial to nice pants, anyway, so I was able to make major progress at a sale at Zara, where I purchased tapered, silk-blend pants in both black and navy.
However, I think that in a fairly traditional office environment, the difference between an average outfit and a chic outfit lies in the shoes; and the sans-heels culture actually gave me more freedom than I had expected. First, I had to get rid of the middle-school flats. Flats are not inherently unattractive, but proportions are very important, and these – with a round toe and high sides – were all wrong. I purchased a new pair of flats from DSW, a very classic nude Steve Madden pair with cutouts near the instep and pointed toes. Although they are very practical shoes and definitely an improvement on the previous pair, wearing nude flats to work every day seemed a bit boring.
I’ve always been inspired by menswear, so I added my favorite pair of oxfords and a new pair of Zara loafers to my office repertoire. Oxfords and tailored pants with a button-down blouse have thankfully replaced the knee-length grey shift dresses and frumpy flats that made up my original wardrobe. Loafers are a hot item on the Fall 2015 runways, particularly in shows, and they replace my beloved oxfords perfectly on less unbearably hot days. The mission for the next Zara sale is to venture out of my comfort zone and hopefully discover some comfy skirts and dresses, because I can only pretend black and navy pants are comfortable DC summer clothes for so long.