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Clothes-minded students model do’s and don’ts at career fashion show

Paulina Stasiuk ’27 models her professional attire at the comedic career fashion show “What’s in Your Closet?” in September 2023. / Credit: Madi Ogburn

Last updated September 22, 2023

By Jerry Salley ’90

It wasn’t Fashion Week in Milan, but rather Career Week at Furman, the lead-up to the Career and Internship Fair on Sept. 27. And even though there were models showing off outfits as they strode down a red-carpeted runway, a recent event in Hartness Pavilion was hardly an ordinary fashion show.

The student models in the “What’s in Your Closet?” career fashion show mostly wore clothes out of their own closets. Some of the outfits were chosen, in consultation with the experts at the Malone Center for Career Engagement, as good examples of how to dress for a job interview or in a business casual office setting. And other ensembles were deliberately chosen as tongue-in-cheek representations of what not to wear.

Victor Betaille ’27 models his business attire at the “What’s in Your Closet?” career fashion show in September 2023. / Credit: Madi Ogburn

For example, the black closed-toe heels, black slacks, cream tank and green blazer that Meghan Bové ’26 wore down the runway were a perfect fit for the Mock Trial participant and future law school student.

“Meghan is certainly looking like a lawyer tonight,” said emcee and Malone Center Career Ambassador Alice Tyszka ’25.

Another aspiring attorney, Catie Sikes ’25, looked the part in her black slacks and knitted sage green top. The pale silk blouse, brown pants and pale heels worn by Emily Berg ’25 constituted “a business casual outfit that is perfect for the professional world,” Tyszka said. Victor Betaille ’27 modeled a dress shirt, tie and black jacket, ideal for a job interview or networking with potential employers and alumni in a new city on a Paladin Career Trek, the emcee said. And Alysha Matthews ’24, who plans to become an English professor, wore a cardigan, black jeans and pink blouse “perfect for a casual Friday at work.”

Tate Denham ’26 demonstrates what not to wear in the workplace at the “What’s in Your Closet?” career fashion show in September 2023. / Credit: Madi Ogburn

But later, Matthews’ shorts and Ravenclaw T-shirt exemplified an office fashion faux pas. Other models provided more bad examples: An ensemble sported by Lo Vodo ’25 – sweatshirt, plaid pajama pants and Crocs – while certainly comfortable, would “not be the best for that job interview,” said Tyzska, nor would the novelty beer-themed T-shirt, cartoon-patterned sweatpants and sandals worn by Tate Denham ’26.

The career fashion show was a first for Furman, said Madi Ogburn, assistant director of communications and assessment for the Malone Center.

“When we observed the Career Fair over the years, we noticed that the students don’t always know that you don’t have to dress full business formal,” she said. “There’s snappy casual, there’s business casual – it runs the whole gamut of what you can wear and varies by professional fields, as well.”

“What’s in Your Closet?” was student-focused from the outset, said Ogburn, as the student career ambassadors recruited their friends across campus to model their own clothes as well as scripting the event themselves.

The goal was “to make it fun and encourage students to laugh while learning more about professional development,” said Tyszka, who got a chance to walk the runway herself, joining co-emcee Roger Abim-Karmon ’26 in modeling their career ambassador fit – purple Malone Center polos.

“The best advice that I have is just wearing something that I’m confident in, and then I feel professional,” said Tyszka, who has already ventured into the professional world as a writing and publishing consultant. “I always dress up, never down, because I feel like you can never be overdressed.”

And when all else fails, said Ogburn, you can’t go wrong if there’s a basic black suit in your own closet.

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