Every Woman Deserves to Dress For Success

Sparking joy. It’s something that’s on everyone’s mind as of late as Miss Kondo impacts our ideas about what a wardrobe can be. The zing of “joy” the KonMari method tells us to look for when we decide an item belongs in our closet is largely whether it makes us feel inspired, motivated, and worthy , things everyone should feel when they’re getting dressed— feelings that are never more important than when we head into a job interview. But for many women, their closets don’t hold any of that. Financial stresses simply get in the way of a work-worthy wardrobe, meaning it’s a chicken-and-the-egg situation of how to get ahead. And that is where Dress For Success comes in.

Volunteers sort through donations. Photo from the Dress For Success website.

Volunteers sort through donations. Photo from the Dress For Success website.

Since 1997, the worldwide non-profit has dressed 850,000 women, setting them up with appropriate attire for both job interviews and the careers they subsequently embark on. It’s an incredible program and in Saskatoon, it’s totally volunteer-run. I had the incredible opportunity to not only visit the showroom but to assist in styling Krisztina alongside one of Dress For Success’ Suiter, Jenna. I’m excited to share my experience and what I learned about the organization.

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Photos by Karyn Kimberley

The Dress For Success showroom is going through a bit of a reno since it extended to a large dance studio that was formerly down the hall. It is impressive. The setup reminds me of Winners or Marshalls: sized, but of course, made up of one-offs— every piece was a donation, after all. Unlike a store, you can’t just walk in. Women are referred to Dress For Success by agencies like the YWCA and Open Door Society who have determined the ladies are nearly ready for the workforce but would benefit from a great outfit to wear on an interview, alongside some coaching.

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Krisztina recently began the job interview process with one suiting under her belt and was now visiting the showroom because she was to attend Ensemble, the Saskatoon chapter of Dress For Success’ major annual fundraiser. Most of the time, women are set up with pants first (important to note if you’re thinking about gathering a donation from your own closet) because they’re more practical all season long and can be styled a variety of ways in comparison to a one-piece outfit like a dress, so the gala event meant an opportunity for Jenna to pull some fun pieces!

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I got to play along, too. I picked this snakeskin dress because in the five minutes of knowing her, Krisztina personality shone through as feisty!

Have a peek at past client, Veronica’s story above.

Generally, Dress For Success sets clients up with a good outfit for job interviews and then, once her job is secured, they provide enough clothing to make for a week of outfits which can be mixed and matched far beyond. In addition to the clothing services, there is also an educational aspect whereby women learn about wills, personal finance, and detecting fraud. For some women, this will be their first time earning money and that makes knowing how to handle it, crucial.

Brooke Ratzlaff, Chair of Ensemble; Jenna Kachur, Suiter; Krisztina; Me.

Brooke Ratzlaff, Chair of Ensemble; Jenna Kachur, Suiter; Krisztina; Me.

The Saskatoon chapter of Dress For Success outfitted about 120 women last year but their use for clothing doesn’t stop at interview and capsule wardrobe offerings. They also host sales for past clients, making prices accessible and having volunteers on hand to help.

So if you’re going through your closet, Kondo style, find some great professional pieces that no longer spark joy for you, and want to pass them along to someone who will find that spark again, you’ve found your match. Here are the items Dress For Success would be glad to receive (drop off points are at both locations of Conexus Credit Union):

  • Interview appropriate suits

  • Interview appropriate blouses & tops

  • Professional separates including blouses, tops, slacks, skirts, dresses, blazers and jackets (esp. sizes 18 & up)

  • Work appropriate shoes

  • Jewelry and scarves

  • Handbags (briefcases, portfolios or work appropriate handbags)

  • Outerwear

  • Garment bags to enhance our clients’ boutique experience

They are also looking for volunteers to help with inventory management on Tuesday mornings and someone to assist in laundering items bi-weekly. If you’re interested in giving your time or in learning more about the organization, please visit their site at saskatoon.dressforsuccess.org.

xo