If you've landed a summer internship at an investment bank, you might be a bit panicked about what to wear. The good news is that you will not be judged on your wardrobe unless it is outlandish and widely inappropriate. However, it is still important to have the proper attire. You don't have to spend an enormous amount of money. The full-time bankers will understand you are an intern. Associates get cut some slack when it comes to their wardrobe, so as an intern, you will certainly be given leeway if you don't own a different bespoke Italian wool suit for every day of the week.
Here are the main items of clothing you should get. These also will serve you well once you start full-time, be it at that particular investment bank or somewhere else, so think of the clothing as an investment.
Worsted Wool Suit
You need to wear a suit to work. This is probably the most important part of your wardrobe. You should make sure you get a quality suit, preferably one that is made of worsted wool. It is lightweight and breathes, which is important during the summer. Also, it is very durable. Choose either dark navy or black. Avoid light colors as well as herringbone and pinstripe patterns. You should also steer clear of double-breasted suits. Make sure you have the suit tailored so that it fits perfectly. You can buy off the rack, but make sure to see a tailor to have it fitted.
A Plain Black Leather Belt
Chose a plain black leather belt. No suspenders (you're not Michael Douglas and this isn't the 80s) and definitely no webbed belts. Also, avoid fancy belt buckles.
Black Leather Shoes
You should choose either wingtips or loafers. Square toed shoes and ankle height shoe/boot combos are inappropriate.
Buy a pair of cedar shoetrees. They help keep the form of the leather and prevent moisture and odor. The shoetrees are important for the longevity of the shoes. They keep the leather from collapsing and prevent the creation of wrinkles and creases at the front of the shoe.
Plain Black Dress Socks
Nothing fancy, just plain black socks. Avoid argyle. If you must, you can choose black socks with tiny pin sized designs, but plain is best.
5 Pairs Of Dress Shirts
You should never wear the same shirt two days running. Pick light colors. Light blue, white, off-white, the famous two-tone (white collar and light blue). Make sure the shirts fit snugly. You don't want to walk around the office with a baggy shirt.
Silk ties are the best choice. No crazy designs. A simple, restrained pattern or a solid color work best.
Polo Shirt, Chinos, and Boat Shoes
These are great if your office happens to have a "casual Friday" dress code, but more importantly they are essential if your boss invites the interns to a weekend party. Many investment bankers have lavish homes and love to entertain. If you're working on Wall Street, you might get an invite to Southampton for an office party. You cannot show up in jeans or shorts. A light colored polo (salmon, white, baby blue) and light colored chinos, coupled with boat shoes, are perfect.
For more inspiration, visit a shop that sells high end men's clothing. The salespeople there will be willing to help you find the perfect pieces to mix and match so you don't need to spend too much money.