US: Clothing closets provide university students with free professional attire
Clothing closets have popped up across universities in the US and provide students with free professional business attire. Source: Shutterstock

Buying professional attire for job interviews can be an expensive affair for financially-strapped students.

However, to help students make a good first impression during their job interviews and ease their financial burden, ‘clothing closets’, or sometimes known as career closets, have begun popping up across university campuses in the US.

Clothing closets typically provide students with donated professional business attire and, in some instances, accessories, for free, which they can use for interviews, career fairs and more. This can help with their transition from school to work.

For example, The University of Kansas’s (KU) clothing closet, dubbed The Professional House of Garments (The P.H.O.G.), is decked with an assortment of suits, shirts, dresses, skirts, ties and shoes for its students.

KU Career Center’s Erin Wolfram told KCUR that The P.H.O.G. aims to help financially strapped students. She said students are often working in part-time jobs or in unpaid internships, which does not leave them much money to pay for more than room and board.

“Clothing, especially suits, is not something that students are really thinking about that they’re going to have to pay for,” said Wolfram, adding that this becomes problematic when they have a job interview or summer internship and realise they have nothing appropriate to wear.

This is where the facility comes in handy.

Research suggests employers can make hiring decisions during job interviews in as little as 30 to 90 seconds while researchers note that first impressions are powerful, and clothing can play a big role in that.

Students are free to keep the items they select, while all current KU students have access to The P.H.O.G., regardless of their year of study or major.

Meanwhile, similar programmes can also be found in other institutions, including the Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern Indiana, Kansas State University, University of Michigan, among many others.

The terms for each university may vary, as some institutions only allow their students to take one or more clothing items per academic year or every quarter, while others, like Columbia University, only allow their students to borrow attire.

Meanwhile, NBC reports that more institutions have begun opening clothing closets for transgender and gender-nonconforming students, proving that the initiative has become more inclusive.

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