On Sept. 13, Cardinal Closet, ran by the Student Action Team (SAT), held a free professional clothing event for Ball State students in partnership with the Fashion Program and the Career Center, in lieu of the upcoming Cardinal Job Fair on Sept. 21.
“Professional attire is very expensive and it’s very difficult at times for students, especially if you live on campus to have the resources to go buy clothes,” Sydney Cole, Ball State fourth-year and President of the SAT said. “So [Cardinal Closet] provides a resource for [students] to [get] that clothing.”
According to Cole, Cardinal Closet has proven to be successful and has serviced around 150 students in past years. Cole said around 20 people have made appointments in the past three days alone.
Stephanie Wilson, Ball State Career Coach and Cardinal Closet stylist, said having a resource to get help from people who have gone through the professional workforce, and walking students through dressing is “very essential for literal success.” She said reiterating the importance of what one wears and first impressions on possible employers is a gift to students.
At the event, students were able to take home up to two free professional outfits. Cardinal Closet is able to provide free clothing through donations. There is a bin in the Career Center for these donations.
“We also have a grant we are funded through, specifically for Cardinal Closet, that SAT does not use for anything else, [and] that helps us buy supplies like our sewing kits, our [clothing] racks, [and] our dressing rooms,” Cole said. “[The grant is] something that we’re planning on using for years to come as a way to support [Cardinal Closet] and make it even bigger.”
Emma LaPlante, Ball State fourth-year arts administration major, attended the event to see what professional attire she could add to her closet. She said she benefited from the Cardinal Closet stylists who gave her suggestions for outfits.
Both Wilson and Laplante said professional clothing should reflect who one is. Through styling, Wilson helps students find outfits that both tell employers about an individual and show them how dedicated they will be to the job.
“I like colorful things [and] patterns because not only is it professional, but it’s also [showing] a little snippet of me and I’m fun and not boring and bland,” LaPlante said.
Cole said Cardinal Closet is using words like “masculine” and “feminine” in order to avoid labeling articles of clothing based on gender. She said using broader terms allows students to pick pieces that work for their bodies and personalities without worrying about gender implications.
She said this progressive outlook on professional clothing is somewhat being translated into the workforce.
“As a society, we are getting better [at becoming more progressive] within interviews and internships and businesses,” Cole said. “However, there are always going to be those isolated individuals that make those experiences negative for others. Doing research on companies and the individuals interviewing, and knowing where you align [with their values] and beliefs, and if you want to work for a company that supports things that you’re against [is important].”