Clothing Closet brings accessible professional attire to UI students

A new student organization has opened up to students to help them find quality, new or used professional wear at no cost. The organization, called Clothing Closet, has been in preparation to open on-campus since last fall.


Yue Zhang

Clothing Closet marketing director Sasha Mote and executive director Lindsey Meyer pose for a portrait on Sept. 13, 2018.

Josie Fischels, News Reporter

University of Iowa students now have the opportunity to suit up for free thanks to a new student volunteer organization on campus.

Clothing Closet, an UI initiative aiming to give students greater access to professional clothing at no cost, held its Grand Opening Thursday at the IMU. It offers quality new and used professional clothing to students for interviews, job fairs, and other events in which formal attire is required. If the closet is running low on certain sizes, the staff will find them and buy them.

According to its website and Facebook page, the Clothing Closet at Iowa will be open Mondays from 1:30-4:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 5-8 p.m., and Fridays from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Clothing Closet is housed 213 IMU. It is volunteer-run, and it has accepted donations since the spring.

The idea was part of the platform Bridge UI ran on in 2017 UISG election last year and was brought to the attention of the Pomerantz Career Center by former UISG member and student Akash Bhalerao.

Lynne Sebille-White, a representative of Clothing Closet’s office in the Pomerantz Career Center, said the staff have been aware of students’ need for free professional clothing for some time now, and they offer resources on the website to help students dress professionally and on a budget.

However, she said, UISG members saw the opportunity to take the idea a step further and provide a more accessible way for students to dress professionally.

“[Akash] also contacted other campus stakeholders to find support for this new initiative and student organization,” Sebille-White said. “He and others did benchmarking and created a business plan to help project budget and operations.”

So often, professional clothes can be inaccessible and super expensive to students on a college budget … we’re hoping to knock down those barriers to success.

— Lindsey Meyer

The Career Center is now part of the Clothing Closet’s Advisory Board and has helped get the project on its feet with funding since its beginning. The project is now an independent student organization, supported by the Career Center, Tippie College of Business, IMU, Student Services, UISG, Sustainability Office, Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, Center for Diversity and Enrichment, and Center for Advancement.

“We’re hoping to provide a space where students can feel as though they’re still shopping and everything, but then it’s completely free,” said UI senior Sasha Mote, the marketing and PR director. “And we want to provide a space in which students are comfortable walking in and feel comfortable asking questions about what it means to dress professionally and all that.”

Clothing Closet Executive Director Lindsey Meyer said the outfit has around 20 volunteers who will welcome students, take inventory of incoming donations, and help students find what they need.

“We’re excited for it to have an impact that will leave students better prepared academically and professionally for their future, whether that be in job interviews, student organization events, or class presentations,” Meyer said. “So often, professional clothes can be inaccessible and super expensive to students on a college budget … we’re hoping to knock down those barriers to success.”