How to Dress for Success without Spending a Dime

Growing up as the fifth child in a family of six girls, I was accustomed to wearing my older sisters’ hand-me-downs. As teenagers we often shared our clothes.

I guess that’s one reason I visited the Career Closet at NWTC. The stigma of wearing second-hand clothing was trumped by a desire to find a professional outfit for my interviews in Career Prep and Personal Brand. We were told to invest is something dressier than the khakis we were accustomed to wearing.
Here’s how the Career Closet works. NWTC staffers and others donate new and used clothing to the closet, and students are eligible to “shop” for two free outfits a semester.

First visit was a surprise.
When I visited the Career Closet, the front desk worker asked me to fill out a form and gave me a quick overview of the closet. My first impression was surprise. For a small space, the room held a lot of clothes, some hanging on racks and some folded in stacks. I was momentarily overwhelmed, but then my shopping instincts took over.
I found a brown blazer, long-sleeved white shirt, flowered scarf, and navy skirt. Although it wasn’t a fully coordinated outfit, I knew I could match the items with the clothing I had at home.
Why would I want to wear someone else’s castoffs? The most obvious reason is the price: Free! Free! Free!

Everyone loves freebies.
Students are eligible for two free outfits per semester. It’s great, because money is tight for those of us paying tuition and living expenses. The Career Closet saves us from spending a ton on clothing we may only wear on special occasions like a job interview.

Price is what makes the Career Closet so attractive, but there are other reasons to visit the closet.
·         Buying used clothing is trendy and good for the environment.
·         The clothing is in good condition and ready for a new owner.
·         Professional dress remains in style longer than casual clothing, minimizing the worry that you won’t be fashionable or that people will know you’re wearing second-hand outfits.
·         You can pick out a single article, like a skirt or blazer, to complement what you already have in your closet.
·         Wearing a professional outfit gives you confidence, which is especially important at a job interview.
·         Professional dress helps you make a good first impression and builds your professional image.
·         People cared enough to donate the clothes, so why not take advantage of their generosity?
Anyone can give professional clothing to the Career Closet and can receive a tax receipt in return.

Perfect for job interviews.
I found out I wasn’t the only one who visited the Career Closet. Another marketing student wore a business suit to class one day, and I told her she looked great. She said she picked out the suit at the Career Closet and had a job interview later in the day.

That’s exactly why the Career Closet was developed -- to provide students with professional dress for job interviews. The closet is located in the Career Services Office in SC128 and is open from 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Friday. The bathroom down the hall serves as a dressing room.
I encourage you to stop in sometime. It might cost you a bit of time, but not a dime. You might just walk away with something that helps you land that dream job.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Koehne, of Abrams, is a 2017 graduate of NWTC. A former newspaper editor, she co-owns Writer to the Rescue, the content writing division of Packerland Websites.
Jennifer Parks-Tigert - Manager, Career Services

About the Expert

Jennifer Parks-Tigert - Manager, Career Services