Dressed for Success at SMWC’s Job Boutique

February 19th, 2013 | SMWC

By Lisa Luper, Communications Intern 

It’s an all-too-common scenario. A recent college graduate faces her first job interview. She opens her closet door and sifts through the jeans, hoodies, and tank tops she owns. She knows it’s important to dress nicely for her interview, but with student debt and a part-time job, she can’t afford a new outfit. What can she do? Thankfully, the Career Development Center at Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) has a solution. 

SMWC recently launched its new “Well Suited for the Job Boutique.” The brainchild of Teresa Dwyer, assistant director of career development and education, the Job Boutique provides professional clothing at no cost to students in need of business wear for interviews and job searches. 

Dwyer was inspired to create the Job Boutique after discovering that some students had limited clothing to wear to an interview. 

“How you look is part of the first impression,” Dwyer said. “If you don’t look professional, often you aren’t taken seriously.” She emphasized that clothing is as essential to the interview as the resume. Prospective employers make assumptions about credibility and expertise at the first meeting. 

Dwyer stresses the importance of professional attire, but was concerned about putting another obstacle in front of the students. “It’s a lot easier to bring up the subject of dressing appropriately if we have a solution in hand,” Dwyer said. 

And so the Job Boutique was born. Dwyer recruited some friends and alumnae/i to help and the response was overwhelming.  They scoured their closets for suits they weren’t using. Soon Dwyer’s office was filled with clothes for the students. 

Donations continued to pour in from faculty, staff, and friends of the College.  Even professionals in the community were willing to help. Kohl’s and T.J.Maxx department stores donated hangers. A grant though the Lilly Foundation helped fund clothes racks, a clothes steamer, and a screen for a changing area. 

The Job Boutique has helped at least a dozen students, such as Melinda Bauer, a human services major from Indianapolis, Ind., and Joanna Winnicki, an art and design major from Brighton, Mich., find the perfect outfit for their job searches. 

When job seekers dress professionally, it increases their confidence, reflects how they feel about the position and themselves.  "It’s really awesome that the Career Development Center has put this together for us. Appearance is everything, and it can be tough to afford that appearance right out of college. A suit from the boutique could be one of the reasons we land the job,” Winnicki said. 

“I found the perfect outfit for my first interview as an intern, “Bauer said. She now works as an intern at the Council on Domestic Abuse, Inc. (CODA) in Terre Haute, Ind. 

SMWC’s Job Boutique welcomes donations of lightly worn professional wear such as women’s and men’s suits, jackets, dresses etc. The Job Boutique, located in Guerin Hall, is open to both campus and online students by appointment only. 

To schedule an appointment or make a donation, contact Teresa Dwyer at (812) 535-5119 or tdwyer(at)smwc.edu.

Photo: (l) Debbie Miller, associate director, career development and Teresa Dwyer, assistant director, career development show off all the new clothes in the boutique.



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