Only a slight trek uphill from Baker University Center bus stop resides the Career Closet, nestled inside McGuffey Hall.
After checking in on the first floor with an Ohio University email, students can climb up a short flight of stairs to the well-lit Career Closet, although it is more like a small room. Garments are hung upon wall-mounted racks and neatly organized by pattern, type and length. A full-length mirror stands affront a window, and a bathroom moonlighting as a dressing room is nearby.
“The Career Closet provides students with business professional and business casual clothes for interviews, career fairs, formal events or any career-related function, both on and off campus,” according to the Career Closet’s informational website.
A fashion lover’s dream and cash-strapped student’s haven, the Career Closet is a valuable on-campus resource. It is stocked with tried-and-true name brands, and some clothes still have retail tags attached.
Having a posh outfit on hand isn’t just about a superficial image, though. “Enclothed cognition,” a term coined in a study in the “Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,” describes how clothing affects the wearer’s “psychological processes.” And, enclothed cognition states that people have a habit of emulating the qualities represented by their clothes. Dress like a boss, act like a boss.
Lisa Williams, an associate professor of instruction in retail and fashion merchandising, said she thinks it can be hard “for people who can’t afford (business clothes) and don’t have that in their closet to be able to feel like they would be considered for a job because of what they’re wearing.”
Samantha Kruse, a junior studying journalism said clothing can have a real effect. Kruse is minoring in retail fashion merchandising and serves as one of the fashion directors of Thread Magazine.
“I think clothes definitely affect your confidence,” Kruse said.
Scientifically, Kruse is correct. As a post from White House Black Market noted, what is worn can greaten chances of a promising outcome. Not only can clothing affect one’s feelings about themself, but it also can affect how one is perceived by others. A study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science titled “The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing” validates these claims.
At the Career Closet, students can put together a confidence-boosting, job interview-ready outfit at no cost. The atmosphere is welcoming, and the student employees are there to help. It is not necessary to return what is taken. However, if the clothes are no longer needed, returns are always welcome.
“That’s definitely helpful, rather than … (taking) it to Goodwill or so, bring it back here for the students,” Payton Karaffa, a senior studying integrated healthcare studies and working at the Career Closet, said.
The Career Closet gets daily visitors, but career fairs will prompt an uptick in last-minute shoppers. Williams advised that people putting together outfits for such events should research the company and learn about its atmosphere.
“Even if (a company is) casual, I would still dress professionally,” Williams said. “Something that’s clean and looks put-together and is more like businesswear. Borrowing (the outfit) or buying it … is a great way to show you’re serious about the position.”
Demyaca Sheppard, a senior studying retail and fashion merchandising, had never heard of the Career Closet. After learning of its existence, Sheppard said she would visit the Career Closet to seek outfits for interviews and business attire for in-class presentations.
“Definitely wear an outfit that you feel confident in and comfortable,” Kruse said. “But also, (find) professionalism in that attire. Workwear has finally become more normalized, and … it’s becoming more street fashion, which is really cool. Try to make it your own.”
Kruse had some innovative ideas to get the word out about the Career Closet, including mobilizing OU’s social media teams. She specifically noted how popular TikTok and Instagram Reels are. Sheppard recommended OU promote it in emails, and Williams considered a collaboration with the retail and fashion merchandising program.
The Career Closet operates off of donations of both monetary gifts and professional clothes. All sizes and styles are needed, and student donations are sincerely appreciated.
For more information, visit the Career Closet website here, or contact the Career Closet at 740-566-8888 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Career Closet is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
“Come stop by,” Karaffa said.