This is a different kind of post for a Fashion Friday.
This is a tale of a suit. Or many suits for that matter. Suits from my old life, which I call Heidi B.C.–before children. I had no less than 12 suits sitting in my basement. So sad, their little pants just cold and in the dark for ten years. The jacket flaps swinging in the breeze. The buttons from my suits clanging together. For TEN YEARS.
Did I really think that I would wear these again? Really? Even if I could fit my big toe into them, where would I wear them? To carpool, or tennis, for that matter? The people at Costco and Paul’s sure wouldn’t appreciate seeing my Garfield and Marks black suit or my Harold’s suit I wore to SORORITY RUSH in 1990. I had two options. Start filling out the form to get on A&E’s Hoarders or send them on their merry way, where they could be appreciated for who they are: great pieces of clothing.
Instead of consigning them, I went another route. I donated them to Dress for Success, an ” international not-for-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.”
When I went to drop off my suits, I got into a conversation with the volunteer director about their mission. I was so inspired by their story that I signed up to work a shift of dressing 14 young ladies for their job interviews that next week. I was going to learn how to “suit” them and then give them interview tips. I took my friend Mary and we had a great experience.
It was a day I really really needed. On the advent of the holidays, to be able to meet these women and see them taking positive steps in their lives gave me a new perspective on everything that I have.
I took pictures throughout the process. The women that walked in were nervous, usually quiet, but with an undercurrent of excitement. When they found their suits, their entire expression changed. Beautiful smiles emerged, full of confidence and hope.
All of these girls have a story, and while I’m not going to write about them here, they are all stories of people moving forward in a positive direction. They all filled out a form prior to their fitting. This says it all:
Each woman that comes in is fitted for a suit and then is given the rest of the ensemble: shoes, purse, scarf, jewelry, pantyhose, brushes, hair color(if necessary). Anything that can make her interview appearance perfect is offered.
This is like Top Chef of clothing–trying to find the perfect outfit with limited resources and time. It was fun and challenging all at the same time. Some ladies took about 20 minutes. One lasted an hour and a half.
First we fit for the jacket. There are options for both suits and separates.
Then we decide what color is going to look best, or what colors they like to wear.
There is a vast amount of storage in the basement if we could not find the right fit upstairs in the main showroom. I saw my suits down here that I had donated the week prior. They were so excited that they were about to be called up from the bench to play.
Shoes available in all colors and sizes, but all must be professional: think pumps, not stilettos.
I’m sure you have a box of scarves laying around somewhere. These are beautiful and really made some outfits pop.
Purses also in great need. I know I have that Dooney and Bourke number and I know it is is my child’s dress up basket. That’s being donated shortly!
Conservative, elegant earrings, necklaces, and brooches needed. No chandelier earrings please.
Something I had not thought of, but I gave out two packages to women who needed a touch-up. An easy fix.
Pantyhose in conservative colors, new in the boxes. Maybe Princess Catherine might have some spares laying around.
Nice, new hairbrushes.
Obviously this is a problem as they have had to post a sign about it. But it made me giggle and I was kind of waiting for someone to have to disclose to me that they were commando. Unfortunately, all had undergarments on:)
Mary is helping Brittany find the perfect suit for her interview.
Here is the “After” shot:
We found the perfect outfit for LaShawna in 20 minutes….and it was her 30th birthday. She had the best smile on her face the entire time.
Tiffany is definitely going to get the job with this outfit.
My goal with this post is not to position one women’s charity over another. There are so many groups out there doing such wonderful things. This post is about my experience with seeing something as simple as a suit make a huge difference in someone’s life. Or earrings, or a necklace, or shoes. You catch my drift. Your appearance really affects your mood and your attitude. When you look good and you know it, you act positively. See Exhibit A below:
It’s finally getting a little colder. While you are switching out your closet and dragging the same suit back and forth that you have had since when Bill Clinton was in office, think about how someone else could be wearing that with pride, instead of it just sitting on your hanger being lonely.
Dress for Success Louisville is located at 309 Guthrie Street (downtown) off Third Street. Their number is 584-8050.
Donations are accepted:
- Mondays, 9:30 – 12:30
- Wednesdays, 9:30 – 2:00
- 3rd Saturday of each month, 9:00-12:00
When you are cleaning out your closet, here are some things they would love to have.
- Professional handbags
- Pantyhose – especially queen size – nude or black
- Knee highs
- Interview appropriate jewelry – especially pierced earrings
- All garments size 0-4 and 20+
Suits size 0-4 and size 24+
Jackets sizes 14 and up
Shoes – especially size 10 and up