Cougar Closet provides free business attire for students


April Chrisman

The Cougar Closet on Indiana University Kokomo’s campus offers professional attire for students free-of-charge. The closet is located in KO180.

Affording professional attire on a college student’s budget can be an unforeseen struggle, but at Indiana University Kokomo, the Cougar Closet offers students gently used clothing, free-of-charge.  

Spearheaded by the IU Kokomo Women in Business (WIB) and student marketing organizations, the sustainability initiative began conceptually in 2019 and opened officially in 2021. The closet is run by student volunteers throughout the school year in the Main Building, room KO 180.  

Sarah Napier, WIB officer and director of the Cougar Closet, feels that the initiative is a “wonderful opportunity” for both students and sustainability.  

“There are so many facts on fashion sustainability that are mind blowing,” says Napier. “The clothing industry is the second largest consumer of water … and the fact that there are over 8,000 synthetic chemicals in the process and only 16 are FDA approved … it’s kind of scary to think about.” 

Although not a business major herself, Napier studies NMAT with an emphasis in marketing and minors in art history and public administration.  

Cougar Closet director Sarah Napier organizes blouses in the Indiana University Kokomo Cougar Closet (located in KO180). The closet provides professional attire for students for free. (April Chrisman)

She feels that every major requires professional attire at some point, but some more so than others, such as education.  

“The closet promotes student success by being able to provide an outlet to dress professionally, as many do not have the funds for mandatory clothing.” Napier said.  

The closet provides gently used suits, dress shirts, dress pants, dresses, blouses, skirts, tights, shoes, accessories, and more with a wide range of men’s and women’s sizes.  Students can take clothing from the closet for internships, interviews, KEY trips, and more with no requirement to return the items or sign for them.  

Additionally, this year’s Learn. Empower. Achieve. Dream. (LEAD) conference, hosted by WIB, will again feature a fashion show showcasing items from the closet, but with the addition of upcycled works from a student designer.  

“Apparel and footwear industries contribute to about 8% of greenhouse gas emissions… if we can reduce that by anything it’s fantastic,” Napier adds. “In my mind, every little thing we can do we should do to help protect our world and be good stewards of what we have.” 

To donate to or borrow from the Cougar Closet, visit during their hours of operation: Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

For more information about the Cougar Closet, email [email protected] and/or follow their Instagram @iukcougarcloset.