New Clothes Closet Helps Students Dress for Success

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

As a small business owner, Nathan Herbig has seen for himself how bad wardrobe choices can unravel a job candidate’s chances of being hired.

A rumpled shirt? For Herbig, that’s a sign of sloppiness.

Scuffed shoes? Makes him wonder if a candidate pays attention to important details.

But as a college student, Herbig also recognizes that sometimes there just isn’t money to buy interview attire, and no one’s future should be determined by what they can afford.

Which is precisely why Herbig and his fellow members of Phi Beta Lambda have organized Polk State’s Professional Clothes Closet, a service that will provide students with gently used professional attire.

“Polk State students have the education, and now we’re going to give them the opportunity to look sharp, too,” said Herbig, president of Phi Beta Lambda, a club for students preparing for careers in business, who also runs a Winter Haven-based security business.

Announced on Monday, the closet is really a currently unused office at Polk State Lakeland. Inside is a rack full of suits, slacks, jackets and dresses, several shelves of shoes, and stacks of ties.

All the clothing has been either donated to the club or purchased from local consignment stores, and the selection is growing quickly.

Polk State students — no matter what they’re studying, what campus they attend or what kind of job they hope to land — may contact members of Phi Beta Lambda or club adviser Kim Simpson for an appointment to select clothing.

Club members will work with students to find clothing that fits and is appropriate for their job search.

Students keep the outfits — all at no charge — and are simply asked to repay the kindness they’ve received to someone else one day.

Alicia Cunningham, a Lakeland resident and vice president of the club’s Lakeland chapter, said she thinks those who utilize the Clothes Closet will notice a difference when they head to their job interviews.

“If you have the right clothes, you feel good about yourself and your confidence level goes up,” she said.

Confidence, she added, is a huge selling point for potential employers.

The Clothes Closet is part of Phi Beta Lambda’s efforts to help all Polk State students stand out in an ever-competitive labor market. All this week, as part of its “Learn Business 101” initiative, the club has special events planned, including information sessions on interviews and resume writing.

“We’re trying to help students understand that they’re going to school to get a degree so that they can get a career,” said Phillip LeMieux, a Winter Haven resident and the club’s reporter. “And in your career, your success depends on how you look, how you speak and how you write.”

Simpson said she is proud of all the work the club members have put into the project, and she’s certain that in helping others, her students have helped themselves, too.

“They’ve seen that there are situations out there where people don’t have this type of clothing, and now they have a better sense of community. They’ve also learned a lot about team-building and how important working as a team is,” she said.

For more information or to make an appointment to shop in the Clothes Closet, send an email to or contact Simpson at 863.297.1010, ext. 6439, or

Other Phi Beta Lambda events this week include:

Steps in a Career
Feb. 13
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
LAC 1133, Polk State Lakeland

Resume Building
Feb. 14
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
LTB 1306, Polk State Lakeland

Polk State Internship Program
Feb. 14
11:30 a.m. to noon
LTB 1306, Polk State Lakeland

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda is the nation’s oldest and largest education association, with 250,000 student members preparing for careers in business or business-related fields.