Woman greeting someone in a suit jacket who's sitting at a table with a clothes rack behind them
An attendee at the 2024 Women's Leadership Conference learns about the Career Closet

The Career Closet is a new initiative at Adelphi created for our community to assist students in starting their professional wardrobe.

College students are constantly buzzing around on and off campus, going from class, to work out and to other activities. But they’re also working toward and getting ready to launch their professional careers. That means they need to dress the part but may not have the funds.

That’s why Adelphi introduced the Career Closet. Members of the community donate clothing. Students can select up to five items to keep.

According to Kelsey D’Andrea, assistant director for the Center for Student and Community Engagement (SCE), the Career Closet takes its cue from the successful Panther Pantry, which provides food and other necessities to members of the community in need. When SCE saw the need for work attire, “we thought it would be a good idea to start our own Career Closet,” D’Andrea said. “This is a resource for students who may not be able to afford professional attire, or who may be unsure of what qualifies as professional attire, and need guidance. Professional clothing can be extremely expensive, so this is an option for students who may not be able to get their own professional clothing.”

Inspired by Rent the Runway 

The idea is similar to that of Rent the Runway. Jennifer Hyman, CEO and cofounder, was the keynote speaker at Adelphi’s 2024 Women’s Leadership Conference. She told the audience how she came up with the idea for her company: As a college student, she’d watched her sister go through her full closet but said she had nothing to wear and that her closet was “dead” to her. Hyman asked herself what it would mean for a closet to be alive and what a more environmentally sustainable alternative to fast fashion would look like. According to Hyman, 80 percent of the American wardrobe consists of what’s termed “fast fashion”: inexpensive items that don’t last beyond a few wearings. Fast fashion is environmentally and socially unsustainable as it is a polluted industry where new clothing items are constantly being bought but never worn.

She created Rent the Runway to give women access to brand-name, designer apparel they could rent and return. “I feel that the most powerful thing in particular that you could give to a woman is the power to change,” Hyman said.

Attendees at the Women’s Leadership Conference were encouraged to donate items. A total of 157 items were collected on this day. Currently, the Career Closet has received up to 400 donations.

How to Access the Career Closet

D’Andrea pointed out that having the Career Closet on campus—in Earle Hall basement, Room 010—makes it convenient for students, especially those who don’t have access to a car. “By having this resource on campus, students can make an appointment in between classes to check out the selection and see if anything may fit what they are looking for.”

Donors and students can schedule appointments to drop off or peruse the Career Closet by emailing

NOTE: The endeavor of providing free professional attire to Adelphi University students commenced in the fall of 2021 under the sponsorship of Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation, an independent initiative sponsored by Adelphi University; Sing for Hope; and Gottesman Libraries, Teachers College, Columbia University, in collaboration with Bake Back America. “Dress for Success: Celebrating First Generation Students” events were made possible through the leadership of Adelphi professor Stephanie Lake, PhD; adjunct professor Argie Agelarakis; Carolina Cambronero Varela ’09; and founder of Bake Back America, Melissa Subin.

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