Saturday, November 28, 2020

Dressing for Success

November 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Self Esteem

It might seem ill-timing and perhaps even a bit vain to be blogging about body image issues during one of the worst recessions our country has seen …

When our own neighbors are losing their jobs and their homes to foreclosure; when health care costs are rising and bankrupting so many; when companies continue to cut back on staff and resources; when people don’t know if they will have any heat this winter or be able to put food in their children’s mouths.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it; it’s ugly out there. There’s no use sugar-coating it.

But the truth is, so much of our self-esteem is tied to how we feel about ourselves (i.e., our body image.)

And when we feel good about ourselves, we’re more likely to nail an interview; have the confidence to ask for time off that we need to take care of our sick families; take a professional or personal risk; negotiate a utility bill, lease, or mortgage.

Often as women, how we feel about ourselves is directly related to our appearance, and I don’t necessarily mean in terms of body size.

Sometimes just putting on a special wrap-dress, pair of heels, swipe of lip gloss, or long, dangly necklace can make us feel like a princess … or just, well, like a woman.

While we might feel just as good about ourselves in a pair of yoga pants (and more power to you, if so!), the likelihood of scoring a job in said yoga pants is slim to none because, though it’s unfair,  first impressions do matter.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are judged by our appearance, especially when it comes to how we present ourselves on job interviews, and especially when job opportunities are so few and far between.

In challenging economic times like these, we can’t afford to not put our best foot forward. Yet not all women are so lucky as to have a closet full of appropriate business-attire from which to choose an ensemble for an interview.

That’s where the amazing international non-profit Dress for Success comes in.

You see, though I feel blessed to have a wonderful full-time job, on the side (and pretty infrequently, I might add, given this economy),  I am a  Lia Sophia jewelry consultant.

And one of the reasons I’m such a big proponent of the company (besides its mission to empower women) is its affiliation with Dress for Success, which provides disadvantaged women with professional attire (suits and accessories) to make them feel good about themselves for job interviews and upon entering the workforce; a network of support, and career development tools to help them get on their feet and stay on their feet.

What I love is that each time a new catalog comes out, Lia Sophia designates one piece of jewelry its “awareness piece” which we advisors call attention to during our shows. The company also donates jewelry to Dress for Success to help women feel as put-together as possible and makes monetary contributions throughout the year.

We know confidence should come from within; of course.

But sometimes all it takes is a suit that fits; shoes that match; a stylish bag to make a woman feel good about herself. And if that confidence can exude to her job interview and then throughout her career, isn’t that worth it?

No, nice clothes and accessories can’t pay her electric bills, put food on the table, or buy her child new sneakers … but these things can bring a certain piece of mind that every woman deserves; comfort in knowing that she is presenting a more polished version of her awesome self, so that what she feels on the outside now might work its way inside, too.

So will you join me in making a personal commitment to Dress for Success?

After years of working in D.C. at trade associations and in government (where I wore suits quite often), I now work in advertising. I can tell you that after three years and two months on the job, the only time I’ve worn a suit was my interview day.

So I have tons of great Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft suits from my D.C. days in my closet collecting dust that I will definitely be donating to Dress for Success this month.

I believe every woman ought to feel empowered; we might not all be blessed with a huge closet but at least we can help another woman get on her feet and stay on her feet.

Sometimes things like clothes and accessories really do have amazing powers that can lead to other great things. And in these tough times, there’s truly no time like the present to give someone else that gift of potential.

How about you? Will you join me? Do you have any old suits (too big or too small) lying around in your closet? Would you be willing to donate them to disadvantaged women?


17 Responses to “Dressing for Success”
  1. Candice says:

    What a great idea! I do have a few really nice suits that don’t fit (and that I don’t expect to fit into again). This is exactly what I should do with them.

  2. McLauren84 says:

    If any ladies reading this are still clinging to the hope that they’ll one day fit into that size blank suit again, this can be a great reminder to pass it along to a woman in need who can wear it today! Plus, hanging on to clothes that no longer fit sends the wrong message to yourself; we have to embrace and love our bodies as they are at this exact moment. 🙂

  3. lissa10279 says:

    Awesome, Candice! Let’s see how many women we can commit to make a donation! The last link I posted shows where to donate.

    McLauren84–amen!! I’m 99% sure the suits I’m donating def. don’t fit anymore, either. Might as well give them to someone who can use them!

  4. Yum Yucky says:

    There’s a local program in my area that does this, but can you believe it, their website indicates they restricting clothing sizes they will accept.

    I had a beautiful suit in size 10, but it wasn’t accepted because of size. Ridiculous!

  5. AlaskaJoey says:

    This is what I did halfway through my weight loss – gathered up suits, dress pants, skirts, and a long black wool coat, packed them in a suitcase, and dropped them off at Dress for Success in NYC. I think it’s especially important to donate plus sized clothing because they seem to be extra short on those pieces.

  6. lissa10279 says:

    Josie, I didn’t know that… I looked though and all I saw was that they *prefer* size 14 and up … not that you couldn’t contribute if you had a smaller size. Though that might depend on the locality?

  7. Meems says:

    I don’t really own any suits because of where I am in life – the only one I do have still fits. I still try to donate clothing sometimes, but honestly, because I’m a grad student and have such limited financial resources, I’m more likely to consign clothing.

  8. raven says:

    i don’t have any ‘professional’ type clothing to donate. when i left the world of corporate america, i did donate them or give them away to friends in need. 😀 i would also encourage people to donate old cell phones and computers to your local shelter. they are usually looking for stuff like that.

  9. vitty10 says:

    I have stuff that fits but that I haven’t worn in years. I should donate some of it. It’s useless just sitting in my closet. I never knew there was such an organization, thanks!

  10. .C. says:

    While I agree that this is a good idea, and there is nothing wrong with putting it on a body image blog per se, it still comes off as frivolous to me. While this may be a perfectly fine charity I have to say that there are far more serious causes to fight for, and I think we should be focusing on them more.


    • Cait says:

      there are far more serious causes to fight for, and I think we should be focusing on them more.

      I agree, and that’s one of the things that I think is so brilliant about Dress For Success (and why it deserves to be highlighted). Because they’re not asking for a whole lot of your time/money/focus. Just a little bit of thought about little actions that can make a big difference to someone else’s life. It’s a “butterfly effect” kind of organization. It’s not changing the world, it’s not all that “serious”… one is totally able to do a little, a practical nothing (if you’re giving away suits anyway, for example) that makes a big change, and still leaves you with lots of time to focus on other “serious” causes. And hopefully, those who benefit from these small actions of charity will themselves then be better able to focus on “serious” causes in their lives.

  11. lissa10279 says:

    .C., that was kind of my point–it might SEEM frivolous at a time like this, but given the nature of this blog, it IS relevant. I absolutely agree there are tons of charities and non-profits out there that should be focused on at greater length, but this isn’t necessarily the appropriate forum–or audience–for that. As bloggers, we try to write relevant posts and for a blog on body image, Dress for Success — and its mission to empower women — it is relevant. It doesn’t mean we can’t focus on other nonprofits and charities, but this one happened to align with our mission, so I blogged about it.

  12. tom brokaw says:

    Why are first impressions unfair?

    Someone wearing yoga pants to an interview clearly does not take the interview seriously enough and it is entirely fair to assume this attitude would extend to other things related to the job.

    • Cait says:

      It might be “fair to assume this attitude would extend…” but– you also might be wrong. That’s the problem with first impressions, see. They’re all about “what someone assumes about another person”.

      And I do think you’ve sort of missed the point of this post. Donated suits are for people who need suits. Saying they “clearly does not take the interview seriously enough” is exactly the sort of attitude that puts women unable to provide suits for themselves at such a disadvantage when it comes to the interview process.

      I do think that your attitude, though, is a good example to .C. about why this isn’t a frivolous charity. Organizations like this let disadvantaged women have more of a chance in a world full of Toms. Until we can convince Tom here (and others like him) that he should be less of an appearance driven judgmental individual, we need to help those who suffer as a result of these attitudes.

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