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Workplace Wardrobe Workshop: A Free Tool for Extension

A free video and supporting materials will be available on flash drives during CES In-Service Training, January 5–7, through the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. These tools will help extension professionals conduct a short workshop to help their clientele dress for success as they enter or re-enter the workplace.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate in New Mexico is going down from a high of 7.9% in June of 2021 in the midst of the pandemic. Today, New Mexicans are filling job openings, changing careers, and returning to in-person workplaces. Many are looking for new opportunities and promotions.

Michelle Bustillos, Elisha Wiggins, and Jessica Morales model the outfits they bought while thrifting

To help prepare our upwardly mobile professionals for success, Dr. Kelley Coffeen and her Fashion Merchandising and Design students in Family and Consumer Sciences have developed an engaging wardrobe workshop with lots of tips and techniques on building classic business-style wardrobes while saving time and money. This workshop highlights both men’s and women’s wardrobes.

Restyle Your Future for Upward Economic Mobility

Elisha Wiggins thrifting for business attire

This project was funded by Wells Fargo with additional support from Walmart and the participation of a few local thrift stores. The resulting 27-minute video is designed to be used as a guide during your own wardrobe workshop that you conduct in your county in person or over Zoom. The video is split into sections with on-screen prompts to stop and discuss with your participants. It’s a flexible and interactive tool that you can use to meet the needs of your presentation.

Filming at Walmart with Arturo Ruiloba, Kelley Coffeen, and Savannah Willingham

The project itself began with a challenge from Dr. Coffeen for her Fashion Merchandising and Design seniors to build an outfit for the workplace for around $25 dollars. The students were passionate about the subject and went above and beyond expectations by volunteering much of their time to develop the workshop.

We filmed the students shopping at Walmart and local thrift stores and added that footage to the workshop discussions and demonstrations. Dr. Coffeen and her team offer engaging tips and creative ideas to enhance your presentation. These options will help you create a workshop that can be as short as 1 hour to possibly a half day (or longer).

Workshop Themes and Techniques

  • Create a Wardrobe Capsule – A wardrobe capsule is made up of approximately 15 interchangeable pieces, along with accessories, that can be mixed and matched to create several different outfits.

A few of the outfits created from the women’s capsule wardrobe
  • Take Inventory – Determine what you already have in your closet and make a list of what you need. The workshop offers a checklist of general clothing items in order to take a personal inventory.

  • Shop with Intent – Use the recommended wardrobe list, and pick clothing items that are appropriate for your workplace.

  • Pick Your Colors – With an introduction to warm and cool color palettes, you’ll see how selecting the colors that match your undertone can enhance your appearance and make it easier to coordinate your wardrobe.

  • Choose a Style – Most of your wardrobe capsule should consist of basic styles that are timeless and of good quality. Learn how to accent your wardrobe with fashion pieces and accessories.

Savannah Willingham shows an example of warm tones
  • Care for Garments – Discuss and share clothing care tips to extend the life of your favorite pieces.

  • Find a Bargain – Whether you shop at the local thrift store, a discount retail store, or online, look for sales and reward programs for additional savings.

  • Recycling and Upcycling – Consider purchasing gently used clothing. Shopping at thrift stores is a cost effective and environmentally friendly method of obtaining quality clothing and accessories.

Pick Up Your Free Workshop Materials

The video packet will be available to extension agents and specialists during the 2022 Cooperative Extension In-Service, January 5–7. To obtain your copy , please contact Kelley Coffeen, PhD, Family and Consumer Sciences, College of ACES


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