Aug. 12, 2006 — -- When it comes to style, most of the 535 members of Congress wear conservative suits that reflect the power on Capitol Hill.
For some of their fresh-faced interns, however, skimpy tank tops, jeans, short skirts and flip-flops are the "underdressed" norm.
"In what I'm wearing, you can see a lot of skin, and I've seen a lot of girls walk around maybe not buttoned up," said Erica Matson, a congressional intern. "These girls wear tight pants, too, and they think maybe they're not pushing the limit, but they are."
With hopes of one day entering the political work force, as many as 20,000 interns begin that summer climb on Capitol Hill. Many will arrive at the most-popular address -- the White House -- with their tongues wagging.
"These kids all come out, and they're still wearing tank tops and flip-flops, and that's where the action is," said Alex Pareene, editor of Wonkette.com, a political Web site.
The site sponsors a "Hotties on the Hill" contest, highlighting the sexiest interns on Capitol Hill.
"The easiest way to stand out is to not dress conservatively, and maybe if you can get noticed, you might get a full-time position," Pareene said.
The intern "skin" debate, however, isn't limited to the nation's capital.
"Gen Y -- or millenials, as they are often called -- don't have the same sense of respect for hierarchy or authority as older generations do," said Tory Johnson, founder and CEO of Women for Hire. "What is often happening in that case is, we are leaving an impression of young and sexy instead of young, smart, sophisticated and savvy."
Nicole Williams coaches young women entering the work force, and says while some interns are calculating, others are just clueless about real-world business attire.
"This isn't a frat party. This isn't about who's the hottest chick out there. You are working for someone," Williams said.
Not all interns are on the same fashion page about what's hot and what's not.
"We're here with some very important people," said congressional intern Billy Williams. "This is a privilege to be working here."