After a 2 months pause, Levered Hedge is back. Recruiting is pretty much all over and focus has turned to preparing for summer internships. One of the main concerns of every intern is in the attire arena, as for many this may be the first time you have to dress for a business environment for an extended period of time. This article breaks down everything you need to buy before the start of the internship, as well as useful things to keep in mind during the internship. The post is broken down into sections by articles of clothing, and within each section there are pre internship and during internship tips. A lot of the info might seem a bit basic, but it has to be said as there are way too many mistakes made by interns.
One thing that I will say for everything, do not be fooled by brand names. The most important thing is fit. If you have the money and want to go for a brand name wardrobe then by all means go for it, just remember no one is impressed with a 20 year old wearing a Zegna suit and showing it off.
Throughout the article I will refer to the "Main Rules". This is the following:
Main Rule 1: If you keep having double thoughts about something, then don't wear it.
Main Rule 2: Impressions are everything as an intern.
Main Rule 3: As long as you are not standing out, people don't really care about you.
Color: Navy or charcoal. Do not wear a black suit or something overly light unless you are 100% sure that you can pull it off (think Main Rule 1)
Single breasted only. Unless you are 50+ or your name is Trichet, you cannot pull off a double breasted suit. It would be out of place even in an investment banking role, let alone in S&T.
Try to look for lighter fabrics. If you are in London or NYC, the summer gets hot, and food runs will be done over the hottest part of the day. When you are going from restaurant to restaurant in the heat you want to be in a cooler fabric to prevent from overheating.
Once you buy any suit, go to a tailor and he will make it fit perfectly, this is crucial to getting a good fit.
Quantity: despite the fact that you will not be wearing a suit 90% of the time in S&T, you want to have a minimum of 2 suits. This is because there might be times when you need suits 2 days in a row and if something happens to one then it is good to have a reserve.
TOP TIP: buy 2 suits each with 2 pairs of trousers. This way you have 4 pairs of trousers that you can rotate and always have a matching suit jacket. Then leave your 2 suit jackets at the office, and if you need it then you can simply take the matching jacket.
Different people have different views on this, but as long as your shirt fits properly, has long sleeves, and isn't a brash pattern or color then you are fine. Some people will say that you should only wear white or light blue shirts but no one cares that much. Make sure to not wear anything that is overly dark.
Please, please, please do not wear short sleeve dress shirts, you are not a bus driver.
There are various directions you can go in in terms of brand. If you are on a budget Marks and Spencers/TM Lewin/Charles Twyrhitt are a good place to start and always have sales on. If you are looking to invest a little bit more than you can go Thomas Pink or Made To Measure, all the way up to bespoke or Turnbull and Asser for the top of the range. Honestly, no one really cares what you are wearing as long as you look professional, and for some people no amount of money will buy style. Personally, I went down the TM Lewin route and decided to invest once I started on a grad program.
When you buy white shirts, for the sake of everyone buy some of the thicker weave ones (ie royal oxford) or wear an undershirt. No one likes to see your nipples.
If you want to go down the Made to Measure route, there are some good ones. I can vouch for tailorstore.co.uk, received my shirt in less than 4 weeks and it fit perfectly. They also have cheap sample fabrics you can order. If you decide to try it out, order one as a sample and then go from there.
Quantity: I would advise a minimum of 10 shirts (ie 3 white, 3 blue, 4 other). You do not want to be scrambling for shirts or re wearing any because you didn't have time to do laundry or do your dry cleaning.
TOP TIP: keep a spare white shirt in the office at all times. Trust me, you never know when you will spill chocolate milk on your shirt :P
Disclaimer: I am a huge loafer fan and I am not afraid to wear loafers with suits. Keep in mind that some may look at this as a fashion faux pas. On the trading floor, since you rarely have to wear a suit, loafers are standard attire for many traders and sales people. As long as your belt and shoes match and the shoes aren't something that stands out, then you are fine. No one cares about you as an intern to care that much.
TOP TIP: get some shoe trees and try to alternate shoes so that you do not wear two pairs in a row. This will prevent them from starting to smell of feet. Also make sure to get them shined every couple of days.
In S&T, unless you end up on a desk where the culture is somewhat formal (Nomura), then you will need one tie. Find a tie that matches most of your shirts and just keep it at the office. The only times you will need a tie is if you are going to a meeting with a client. This is what most people working do. Apart from the first day of the internship, I did not wear a tie once over the entire summer and still haven't.
Make sure to buy a quality tie, silk woven and be prepared to pay close to a 100 USD. Do not buy a Hermes tie that is so obnoxious because it will get you laughed at. You can go for brands just not the ones where its blatantly obvious (ie Hermes).
Your belt NEEDS to match the color of your shoes. Black with black and brown with brown. Also stay away from the big H hermes belts. You may think you look all cool but you really don't. It will never do you good and can only hurt you as it may rub some people the wrong way. Remember Main Rule 2.
Color of socks needs to match the color of the suit pants.
Go to any big department store and grab 10 pairs of black socks and 10 pairs of blue socks (assuming you have both black and blue suit pants).
Undershirts are a personal preference and depend largely on how much you sweat. If you find that sweat stains develop very easily then put on a light undershirt.
V Necks only, a crew neck under a dress shirt just looks sloppy.
TOP TIP: make sure to get undershirts that are long enough if you are going to wear them. If they are too short they will come untucked and result in a huge amount of bunching above the belt.
If your office has a casual Friday, then make sure to ease into it. Do not wear jeans your first Friday. I would always say to let one intern make the jump first and then see the reaction. At the end of the internship, most interns were in jeans on a Friday (actually, interestingly you could see who was confident of getting an offer based on whether they were wearing jeans on the last week or not).
FINAL LIST OF THINGS YOU NEED
4x suit trouser (2 for each suit)
10x dress shirt
10x pairs of socks