Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Crimson Closet suits up students for interviews

Andrew Russell leads a lonely life at his job in the Ferguson Center.

“You’ll probably be the only person who comes in here today,” he said, sitting at his desk in a room filled with racks of suits and miscellaneous boxes of dress pants and skirts.

A few days each week, Russell mans the desk for the Crimson Closet, tucked away in room 115.

The business wear is part of a collaboration by the Student Government Association, Dean of Students Office and the Honors College to provide professional clothing for University of Alabama students, according to the press release.

Russell said in its second year, the closet doesn’t attract much traffic. Many days, he only sees one visitor while he spends the remainder of his workday browsing the Internet or doing homework.

SGA President Stephen Swinson, who helped start the program, said the closet responds to a need to help both students with financial needs and those preparing to graduate and apply for jobs.

Maintained through donations, the closet acquired apparel after extensive efforts on behalf of an SGA team led by Alex Clark and Susan Speaker.

The team reached out to colleges on campus, University departments and local businesses, Swinson said.

The closet continues to experience donations each week, which Swinson largely credits to the zeal of Julie Elmore from Off Campus Housing.

Lowell Davis, assistant dean of students, said the closet is open free of charge to any student regardless of financial need.

Furthermore, the clothing students receive doesn’t have a return policy. It’s theirs to keep.

“We want to make sure that a lack of a suit doesn’t hurt their chances,” Davis said. “We want to give them just as much opportunity.”

He said students have also used the closet for class speeches, interviews and funerals.

“There will be a time in every college student’s life where they are going to need a suit,” he said.

In the past, if a male student was unable to find anything to suit his needs, Davis and a colleague would take him out for the perfect fit.

Davis said Jos A. Bank, a men’s apparel store, has been an excellent partner in their endeavors.

The store provides an array of offerings, including belts and ties, and even offers Crimson Closet a discount, Davis said.

For many students, this is the first time they have the chance to purchase their own suits.

Often, they find themselves lost in the process, from fittings and measurements to knowing the basic color schemes.

Beyond tailoring the outside, the program acts as a mentoring opportunity.

Davis said it’s a means to get closer to students, especially those who lack a father figure.

“It was really something emotional for me the first time we took a student,” Davis said.

In putting together his final look, Davis said the student paused in exasperation. He didn’t know how to tie a tie.

Olivia Bensinger, a sophomore majoring in sustaining economic development, said the closet is a great resource.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for students who are broke? like most of us?to be able to dress appropriately for meetings and interviews,” she said. “First impressions mean a lot and you have to present yourself professionally.”

The male apparel in Crimson Closet is mainly in shades of black and blue, which Davis said are staples.

The female suits run in many colors, from cream to a shade of red reminiscent of the Capstone Men and Women.

Swinson said Crimson Closet is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. until 4 pm.

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