A new educational video produced by New Mexico State University wants to help New Mexico residents “dress for success.”
The video, a collaboration between the Fashion Merchandising and Design program and Innovative Media Research and Extension in the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, aims to educate residents on building a practical wardrobe of professional attire – without breaking the bank.
Kelley Coffeen, college assistant professor in NMSU Family and Consumer Sciences Department, developed the video content with several students in partnership with Walmart and two thrift stores in Las Cruces.
“I always have felt that there was a need to help working professionals build a wardrobe that is economical and resourceful for upward mobility in the workplace,” Coffeen said.
So, when funding became available three years ago, Coffeen jumped at the opportunity to create a resource that would empower professionals of all ages to think more strategically about their sartorial choices. The resulting project is a 27-minute video that offers a wealth of expert knowledge on building a capsule wardrobe with 15 interchangeable pieces, along with styling advice.
The video is available online and through the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service, which reaches residents across New Mexico’s 33 counties.
“We’re going to use it as a tool for each agent in every county of the state to help citizens in their community create an affordable and interchangeable wardrobe,” Coffeen said.
Coffeen said the project was years in the making, dating back to 2019.
At that time, the NMSU Foundation approached Coffeen with an offer to fund a project of her choice with a grant from Wells Fargo. After consulting with some of her fashion merchandising and design students, Coffeen decided to develop a traditional workshop series to show New Mexico residents how to build an affordable professional wardrobe.
Coffeen said she originally envisioned in-person workshops delivered by her students in Doña Ana County, and development started in 2019. But the pandemic halted her initial plan. As a result, Coffeen set out to retool the workshop, leading her on a path to NMSU’s Innovative Media Research and Extension, where she teamed up with the department’s video unit director, Tomilee Turner.
Together, they turned Coffeen’s workshop material into an educational video.
Filming took place over the spring 2020 semester, and post-production wrapped up in November 2021. The video features Coffeen and three students explaining the importance of having a capsule wardrobe while showing viewers what clothing essentials should be in their closets. The video follows the students creating two capsule wardrobes with clothing purchased on a budget from Walmart and thrift stores. Throughout their shopping excursions, the students offer practical tips – for both men and women – on selecting items for maximum utility.
“In the video, the students take those interchangeable pieces and create 30 outfits for men and 25 outfits for women,” Coffeen said. “The main thing was that we wanted to give New Mexico citizens information and knowledge on how to build a wardrobe without having to spend a lot of money.”
Coffeen said individuals seeking to upgrade their wardrobe for a job should research their work environment to determine whether it’s a formal or casual setting.
From there, Coffeen said individuals should consult the list of wardrobe basics in the video, take inventory of pieces they already own and shop for pieces they need.
“The idea is to have an interchangeable wardrobe, so it takes less time and money, and it takes the stress away from getting ready for work every day,” she said.
Coffeen said reworking the workshop into a video over the past two years was a “blessing.”
“It’s more powerful, and it’s going to reach a lot more people,” she said.
Turner said the video gives Extension agents options as they deliver in-person and online workshops.
“They can view the video and setup their own in-person workshop, or use the entire video as created. They can also choose sections to show, which is really kind of a neat way to use the video,” Turner said. “It adds a level of flexibility, and that’s super helpful in this day and age. With health concerns in mind, we really never know whether we’re going be working in person or online or some hybrid situation.”