A challenge for many newcomer women is to have the right clothing to wear to job interviews and, once hired, for their new work environments.
Dress for Success is an organization that seeks to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
Dress for Success Suiting Program provides professional attire and styling advice to women who are actively trying to re-enter the workforce. They want their job candidates to feel their best while job searching and in the first few weeks of employment.
The focus of this organization is on professional attire, meaning clothing that would normally be worn in an office environment. However, their clothing may be suitable in other environments, as well.
This program is for all women in need, but a very high percentage of its clients are newcomers.
Since starting operations in New York in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to more than 150 cities in 30 countries. The first Dress for Success in Canada opened in 1999 and there are now 13 affiliates in the following cities:
- British Columbia
- Red Deer
- Orillia and Barrie
- Nova Scotia
In Victoria, BC, another program providing women in need with clothing for work is Wear 2 Start.
In Windsor, Ontario, a clothing program is provided by Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor (WEST).
Once a job interview has been scheduled, a job candidate at Dress for Success must obtain a referral. This can be from a job training and placement agency, a government department or a community-based organisation that supports women in need. There is a list of on the website of each Dress for Success location. (See this link for referral agencies in Toronto.) The first step, then, is to meet with one of their referral agency partners. From there, a referral agency counsellor will provide instructions on how to schedule a suiting appointment online.
Each woman is then paired with a volunteer stylist at Dress for Success, who will offer a unique one-on-one consultation, working with the job candidate to select clothing that suits the client’s needs and personal style. At the end of the appointment, she receives formal outfits (two in Toronto) to prepare for the upcoming interview and can enroll in their Career Learning Programs.
Dress for Success also provides the opportunity for a client to come back, once she has successfully completed the interview and obtained employment. Again, she will meet with a stylist for a personal consultation, working together to select additional outfits (three in Toronto) to help build her professional wardrobe. At this point she is also encouraged to join their Professional Women’s Group.
Professional Women’s Group
Dress for Success offers a support system for newly employed women as they navigate an often unfamiliar set of employment challenges. This includes a network of support and inspiration with a training focus on the unwritten and written rules of the workplace, communication skills, conflict resolution, improving personal finances, and increasing health and wellness.
- Making women look and feel great (Winnipeg Free Press, Dec. 9, 2019.)
- Women over 40 hunt for meaningful work (Globe & Mail, Mar. 4, 2019.)
- Clothing store Dress for Success helps women going back to work gain confidence (CBC, Jan 2, 2019.)
- A wardrobe fairy godmother for job-seekers (Globe & Mail, Mar. 2, 2019; updated Apr. 28, 2018.)
- Windsor organization helping women dress for success (Windsor Star, May 19, 2016.)