First impressions are everything—and good first impressions begin with a clean appearance. This is especially true in the financial world, where everyone is trying to cultivate an image of success. If you want to land a financial internship, you must dress to impress. Start with the Basics Men should be as clean-shaven as possible. Facial hair is not inappropriate, but if present, should be well trimmed. If your hair is starting to look bushy, make an appointment with the barber.
Your haircut should be short. You may be reluctant to sacrifice your blue spikey hair or long, grunge-inspired mane, but this is Wall Street—not Hollywood. Finally, your nails should be clean and trimmed. Women can wear their hair down, half-up, or in a low, classic bun or ponytail. However, no matter how you wear your hair, it should always be professional—in other words, leave the pink streaks or high-ponytails for another time. Make-up is acceptable as long as it remains natural-looking.
Soft-pink blush, brown or taupe shadow, and a neutral lip are great interview staples. Remember your audience: this is an interview, not a photo shoot. As such, avoid wearing any bright makeup or nail polish. Neon orange nail-polish may be cute for a weekend out, but the interviewer may not appreciate the distraction.
The Suit While there are different professional styles, the best one for financial institutions is conservative-professional. Men would do well do don a suit and tie in navy, gray, or black. Jeans with a sports coat is always a “no.” Even in a casual work environment, you want to play it safe for an interview.
Finally, do not take to many liberties when selecting a tie. Muted patterns and basic colors are fine; animals, blinking lights, or loud patterns are not. Women can wear either a skirt or a pant suit. If you choose a skirt, it should fall either right below or just above the knee. Additionally, your skirt should always cover your thighs when seated. If you wear a pant suit, try to stick with dark solid colors. Your blouse should not be revealing. If it displays cleavage, do not wear it.
Shoes for men, provided they do not wear sneakers, loafers, or sandals to the interview, they will be fine. Stick to a decent pair of polished, black dress shoes. Female interviewees should be careful not to wear anything racy. Leave the red leather stilettos at home. Also, you never know what is awaiting you in an interview, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes. If you’ve recently purchased a new pair of heels for the interview, practice walking in them first; stumbling into an interview isn’t going to impress anyone.
Accessories The right accessories can go a long way in making you look professional. Men shouldn’t be afraid to wear cuff links or a tie clip. Both men and women can also invest in a classic watch. However, both men and women should avoid wearing too much jewelry. Men should leave the earrings at home, and women should avoid too-large earrings (including hoops or chandelier-style pieces). If you are preparing for an internship with a financial institution, remember to dress conservatively. You control the first impression you make so make it a good one. If you follow this advice, you will be one step closer to securing that internship.