Students Dress for Success with Sebastian’s Closet
By Renee Reneau

Students Dress for Success with Sebastian’s Closet
By Renee Reneau
The initiative allows students to rent clothing for job interviews and other functions for free.

Clothes don’t make the man or woman. But they can make the job candidate. And with the interview season upon us, the University of Miami’s Toppel Career Center is supporting students in all aspects of career preparation—right down to the threads they wear.

Sebastian’s Closet began as a Student Government initiative in 2015, renting professional clothes to degree-seeking students at UM (with the exception of M.B.A., M.D., and law students).

Clothing from Sebastian’s Closet can be rented for various purposes such as Greek events, class presentations, career fairs, and interviews. A wide variety of apparel, including suits and shirts for women and men, is available in just about every size.

“I’m 6’6” so the fact that they had something that fits me was impressive,” said Miles Holmes, a senior majoring in Spanish, who has used Sebastian’s Closet three times since it opened.

“I heard about it through Toppel’s newsletter, and I didn’t have a suit at the time,” said Holmes. “I used the suit I rented for a Peace Corps networking event and an informal interview with Protis Global in Miami.”

The physical experience of wearing clothes affects more than just one’s confidence. According to a 2015 joint study by Columbia University and California State University, professional dress is associated with enhanced conceptual processing.

“I felt confident and appropriately dressed,” said Holmes. “If I hadn’t had that suit, I wouldn’t have gone to any of the networking events.”

Holmes will enroll at Cornell University in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in industrial and labor relations.

Since Sebastian’s Closet opened in September 2015, almost 100 student requests have been filled. Freshman Harrison Kudwitt was one of the first.

“When I bid for Alpha Epsilon Pi, I didn’t know I would need a jacket, so I used Sebastian’s Closet,” said Kudwitt. “It saved me money and stress. It was so quick and easy that a week later my roommate used it.”

Sebastian’s Closet requests can be submitted through the Toppel Career Center website. Students will receive a response within five business days, usually sooner.

Clothing from Sebastian’s Closet is rented free. One can even return items unwashed, thanks to a partnership between Toppel and Liberty Cleaners and Laundry on campus.

“It’s a great partnership we have with Liberty Cleaners,” said Carly Smith, assistant director of career education at Toppel, who serves as the coordinator of Sebastian’s Closet. “Students know they have nothing to worry about, except performing their best at interviews.”

Clothing from Sebastian’s Closet is rented for a seven-day period. All items are donated from the greater UM community, and suits are distributed on a first-come first-served basis. Once a reservation is approved through email, students pick up their suits at Toppel, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We are always accepting professional clothing donations,” said Smith. “The Closet is only as good as the people who make it happen. I’m proud to be a part of it.”