It’s a part of many college students’ lives; job interviews, class presentations, internships. Succeeding in these situations often hinges on the manner with which a person dresses.
The problem is professional clothes often cost more than what many students can afford.
That’s exactly what Fresno State Career Development Center Director Debbie Young noticed and it spurred her to found the Clothing Closet, a resource on campus for students that offers professional clothing at no cost.
Now in its third year of existence, the Clothing Closet features all the attire that a student would need to ace that class presentation or nail a job interview.
The Closet features business suits, jackets, jackets, ties, shoes and more for men and dresses, skirts, jewelry and more for women.
“It’s mostly to help you secure a job and an internship. That was kind of the dream for it but we’re not opposed to students who might need a professional looking outfit for a classroom presentation,” Young said.
Students who take clothing from the closet are not obligated to return them but rather are able to keep it permanently, which means that the closet often needs to update what is in stock.
The Closet maintains its inventory in multiple ways. Partnerships with local businesses such as Men’s Warehouse, Fresno Suit Outlet along with community organizations such as Porverello House, Angels of Grace, Dress for Success and more help keep a steady supply of professional attire.
In addition, Young said, many members of Fresno State’s Alumni Association have donated the clothes they no longer use to the closet.
Donations are great, but the sizes of the clothing in stock is somewhat limited, Young said.
“I think our biggest thing that we hear is we don’t have enough smaller clothing because we get a lot of donations from retired people who are cleaning out their closets,” Young said. “Not everyone is the size they were when they were 20 years old. So what we try to do is work with alumni who maybe just graduated. I’ve had lots of alumni bring in clothing.”
Still, there are enough sizes to keep people coming.
Kinesiology major Ariana Sanchez, who recently used the closet for the first time, said that it was a valuable resource for her and other students.
Sanchez was looking for a pair of shoes to complete an outfit for an internship.
“I like the variety, and that it’s free,” Sanchez said.
Young said that what makes the closet such a fulfilling endeavor is all the people that come back after they use it to update her on the effects that it had on their lives.
“[We’ve had] lots and lots and lots of success stories,” Young said. “We do have students come back and say ‘oh I got the job, I got the interview’ and that makes me feel good.”