QI am coming to Washington this summer for an internship and I need to buy business-appropriate clothing -- on a student's budget. I don't want to be too casual or too conservative. What should I get?

Kate Perry, La Jolla, Calif.

AStart with basics, such as crisp white shirts (easy and chic), summer skirts (straight is fine, as is a little flounce, just nothing too short), a couple of pairs of pants (think neutrals: khaki, black or white) and a summer blazer that can be worn with all of the above during the day and jeans at night. T-shirts and tank tops are also fine, as long as they're fresh and not too revealing -- looking pulled together is the key to being office-ready. Zara (1234 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202-944-9797) has fantastic options in these staples: At the moment, they have two cotton skirts I like (one floral, one polka dot), each for $29. Other places to hit are H&M,

Club Monaco and J. Crew's Web site, for its great sales (right now cotton pique polos are two for $48).

Sara Switzer

Wondering how to wear it? E-mail styleq@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and daytime phone number.