Trying on clothes at a Wardrobe event. (Noël Heaney / Cornell University) Students ‘The Wardrobe’ Outfits Students in Need of Professional Attire Stories You May Like Paws Up for Science! Student’s Service Dog Gets His Own PPE Student’s Playful Paintings Showcase the Hill as You’ve Never Seen It Student App Developers Enrich Life on Campus and Beyond To help their peers look their best for interviews and other occasions, a campus group offers suits, dresses, and more This story was condensed from a feature in the Cornell Chronicle. By Caitlin Hayes In 2021, Vinh Le, a master’s student in hotel administration, was selected to present his research at a national conference for the first time. But there was a problem: he didn’t have a suit to wear and couldn’t afford to buy one. Le, a first-generation student who grew up in Vietnam, found the Wardrobe, a campus group dedicated to providing professional clothing for all students, with the mission of expanding access to opportunity for those in need. Le was able to borrow a high-quality suit at no cost and has used the Wardrobe’s services for three other conferences since. “It really means a lot to low-income students like me,” Le says. “They really value students and treat us with respect.” The Wardrobe loans professional attire to hundreds of students each semester and organizes pop-up shops twice a year where they can take home free professional clothing; more than 1,500 items have been given away since the club’s founding in 2018. Video by Noël Heaney & Ryan Young / Cornell University Housed in the Career Services offices in Barnes Hall, the group’s 223-item inventory includes belts, button-up shirts, blazers, suit sets, blouses, ties, and dresses, which have been donated from individuals or through a partnership with Bloomingdale’s, or purchased with money raised through grants and regular crowdfunding. Students borrow clothing for conferences, class presentations, club socials, information sessions, and job interviews, for reasons ranging from convenience to financial need. Cecelia Kane ’23 used the service for a round of high-stakes job interviews for post-graduation positions—which resulted in multiple offers. “I’ve never had to own a suit, and my parents have never worn formal professional clothes, either. I was really getting stressed about it,” says Kane. “The Wardrobe allowed me to focus on more important things, and that was huge. The fact that you can borrow clothes right on campus and you’re not paying fees—it really removes a barrier.” The fact that you can borrow clothes right on campus and you’re not paying fees—it really removes a barrier. Cecelia Kane ’23 Founder Fred Kauber ’19, now a tech investor in venture capital, conceived of the Wardrobe during his first few weeks on the Hill; he needed professional attire for a business class presentation, but had left his own suit at home. Stories You May Like Paws Up for Science! Student’s Service Dog Gets His Own PPE Student’s Playful Paintings Showcase the Hill as You’ve Never Seen It His mother sent the suit, but it was damaged in the mail. Kauber walked an hour to and from a tailor downtown to get it repaired. Still, it occurred to him that he was lucky—he owned a suit. What about those who didn’t? “For me, the exciting thing about the Wardrobe is that we’re fulfilling Cornell’s ‘any person … any study’ mantra through our mantra, ‘any student, any opportunity,’” Kauber says. “We want to make sure that everyone on Cornell’s campus is prepared to chase whatever opportunity they’re interested in.” A pop-up event in the Physical Sciences atrium in December 2022. (Ryan Young / Cornell University) Kauber found others who shared his passion and, with support from the Dyson School, spent two years planning. In a small survey of about 90 students, they found that 66% of them felt underdressed at an interview or information session for a company or club, a third did not attend an event for lack of appropriate attire, and half either couldn’t afford or couldn’t bring professional clothes to campus (including international students without enough room in their luggage). After a successful crowdfunding campaign raised more than $10,000, Kauber’s team invested in an initial inventory, as well as clothing racks and a dry-cleaning machine. In 2018, they officially launched the Wardrobe with a pop-up shop attended by more than 200 students. This year, the group hopes to continue to expand access; members plan to provide early entry to their 2023 spring pop-up shop to first-generation students, low-income students, and students of color, and have reached out to various campus offices with the help of Career Services. President Sarah Kim, a fashion design and management major in Human Ecology. (Noël Heaney / Cornell University) Another recent emphasis has been expanding the range of sizes and the diversity of styles to make the inventory more inclusive, particularly for nonbinary students. “We have so many diverse students who use our services,” says the Wardrobe’s current president, Sarah Kim ’23. “We want everyone to have that feeling of putting on a nice suit and feeling confident for whatever event they want to conquer.” Top: Trying on clothes at a Wardrobe event. (Noël Heaney / Cornell University) Published January 25, 2023 Leave a Comment Cancel replyOnce your comment is approved, your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment * Name * Class Year Email * Save my name, email, and class year in this browser for the next time I comment. Δ Other stories You may like Quizzes & Puzzles It’s Your Jam: Test Your Knowledge with a Big Red Music Quiz Campus & Beyond Veterinary Specialists Help Furry Patients Get Back on their Paws Ask the Expert Just Starting Out in Your Career? Dyson Prof Has Advice!