Suit and tie close up

Suit up

Truman’s Closet dresses Mizzou for success.

Walk into Truman’s Closet, and you’ll see a whole lot of BCBG: business casual black and gold.

The new resource, launched Oct. 1, lends professional clothing to MU students, faculty and staff for free.

Truman’s Closet, located in the Rock Quarry Facility, initially will be open three days a week:

  • Sundays 2:30 - 5 p.m.
  • Tuesdays 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • Thursdays 3 - 6 p.m.

“Eventually we’re hoping to have one day in the Student Center if students can’t make it off campus,” says Kathleen Kowalsky, coordinator for Truman’s Closet and a sophomore studying textile and apparel management.

Well groomed
Group photo

The Truman's Closet staff, from left: Mikala Vaughn, Lanre Shitta-Bey, Brianna Donahue, Charles Hall, Sean Joy (sitting), Sarah Snow, Curtis Jones, Heather Parrie, Lauren Alexander

Volunteers for Truman’s Closet help customers choose an outfit based on the event they’re attending — be it an interview, a presentation or a conference — and help them prepare mentally by asking interview prep questions.

“When you walk into an interview, the first thing they’re going to see is what you’re wearing,” Kowalsky says.

However, she says, Truman’s Closet wants to take that first impression a step further by helping students not only look professional but also feel confident and behave professionally.

The program will partner with departments on campus, such as the MU Career Center, to host monthly educational events.

“We wanted this to be something that could inspire students and promote our values at the university — respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence — in every way possible,” says Sean Joy, director of student services and a graduate student studying occupational therapy.

Meeting a need
Signatures on a Truman's Closet sign

Before Truman's Closet opened its doors, students signed a poster in the MU Student Center in support of the new resource.

In January 2012, Nick Droege, then director of student services and now Missouri Student Association president, returned from the SEC Student Government Exchange with two big ideas: a campus food assistance program (which launched last October as Tiger Pantry) and a business-attire lending program.

When Joy stepped into the position of director of student services, he took the reigns to implement Truman’s Closet.

“When Nick created the pantry, they did some research and found statistics about food insecurity on campus,” he says.

If research shows that students, faculty and staff could benefit from a food-assistance program, Joy says, they likely have other crucial needs that resources such as Truman’s Closet can fill.

“We want to provide every student with the opportunity to be successful,” Joy says. “Some people can’t afford to go out and buy new things. Or maybe they’re nervous and don’t know what to purchase.”

Joy assembled a team to make the program a reality, starting with Kowalsky as coordinator.

“She’s a sophomore, so she’s young, but she has so much potential,” Joy says. “I wanted someone that really could get people excited and motivate people to want to be a better professional in many ways.”

The rest of the team includes six additional executive board members and 18 volunteers.

One Mizzou

Looking to the future, Truman’s Closet will focus on developing educational programs, fundraising and collecting donations to grow inventory.

“There’s always room to expand because we want to offer every student this opportunity,” Joy says.

Inclusiveness is the driving force for everyone involved.

“One thing that is so special about our school is that we embrace everyone,” Joy says. “This project has really given me the chance to see that in a different way. We are supportive of one another. We are One Mizzou.”

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