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Supporting Dress for Success: Why and How

5 minutes

In honor of National Volunteer Month, we’re highlighting one of our favorite non-profit partners, Dress for Success Seattle (DFSS). You’re likely familiar with this organization to some extent, but we’d like to tell you more about supporting Dress for Success. If you’re willing to pitch in, it’s an incredibly worthy cause with the goal of empowering women to achieve economic independence. They do this by providing women with a network of support, professional attire, and development tools to thrive in work and life.

Dress for Success, since 1996

Dress for Success operates on the belief that every woman has the right to realize her full potential, but it’s the underlying philosophy that truly sets this initiative apart – the conviction that a confident woman, equipped with both professional attire and a supportive network, can make strides in her career and personal development.

Supporting Dress for Success with Community Partnerships

Today, Dress for Success has 141 affiliates spanning 24 countries and is able to achieve monumental milestones through partnerships in each local community. In total, the organization collaborates with more than 5,000 organizations, including homeless shelters, immigration services, job training programs, educational institutions and domestic violence shelters, among many others, who refer clients to Dress for Success’s programs.

Armoire’s partnership with DFSS began in 2019 as part of our commitment to the circular economy of fashion, which means we aim to keep each article of clothing in use for as long as possible. When a garment can no longer be used as a rental item, we do our best to extend its life by finding it a forever home.

Each month, Armoire’s operations team sorts through hundreds of items of gently used inventory to choose garments that are suitable for job interviews and professional work environments. To date, we’ve donated thousands of gently used garments to DFSS, from professional workwear to smart casual attire. Lifting up and empowering women in our community is one of Armoire’s core values and this partnership is one way we can share our resources.

“Through our partnership with Armoire, we’ve had the ability to fill this huge gap that we have right now with clothes…We’ve been able to provide a lot of clothing to help women get into and succeed in the workforce,” said Daniela Noriega, DFSS Programs and Marketing Coordinator.

Styling Women for Success

Supporting Dress for Success by styling women for successSupporting Dress for Success by styling women for success

Throughout the years, Armoire has worked with DFSS on a variety of campaigns that are a win-win for the environment, Armoire members, and DFSS clients. For example, we’ve held clothing drives for members to clean out their closets and drop off their gently used workwear. The Armoire team processed the garments and coordinated a large-scale donation to DFSS. Many garments were given directly to DFSS clients while others were sold to fund the organization’s training programs.

This year, Armoire worked closely with the team at DFSS to take our partnership one step further by hosting an event for DFSS clients at our retail space in Seattle. As part of this campaign, Armoire members gifted items from our inventory to DFSS clients through a “buy one, give one” drive. Each DFSS client was able to take home at least five items of their choice, with volunteer stylists on hand to assist.

“With Armoire’s help, we were able to provide everyone with personal attention, hear their stories, see where they are in their path, and support them,” Noriega said.

Supporting Dress for Success Clients Beyond their Wardrobes

At first glance, it might seem that Dress for Success is simply about clothes. However, the impact of walking into an interview dressed appropriately and feeling confident cannot be overstated. For many women, the outfit provided by DFSS is more than just fabric; it’s armor. It’s the boost of confidence that says, “I am capable, professional, and ready.” This transformation often marks the beginning of a positive shift, not only in their careers but in their self-perception and life trajectory.

Dress for Success Seattle’s commitment to women’s empowerment extends far beyond the initial suit. The organization offers a comprehensive suite of programs designed to support women at various stages in their professional journeys. From workshops on resume writing and interviewing to networking events and mentorship opportunities, the aim is to equip women with the knowledge and connections they need to succeed. 

The true measure of Dress for Success Seattle’s impact can be seen in the success stories of the women it has supported. Stories abound of participants who have gone from facing unemployment or underemployment to securing fulfilling careers, achieving financial independence, and returning to school to further their educations. These stories are a testament to the transformative power of the right support at the right time.

As Dress for Success Seattle looks to the future, it continues to innovate and expand its services to meet the evolving needs of women in the workforce. With the rise of remote work and digital interviews, the organization is exploring new ways to provide virtual support and resources.

Get Involved in Supporting Dress for Success

For those inspired by the mission of Dress for Success, there are numerous ways to get involved, both online and in person. You can help in person with their suiting program, where volunteers bring their enthusiasm to sorting donations, creating suits-to-go packages, setting the stage for in person sales events, and more. Online, there is a world of opportunity to lead workshops, dazzle with presentations, share knowledge through classes, and provide one-on-one coaching to empower women with job training and retention. Each volunteer, no matter the scale of the commitment, plays a part in empowering women to achieve economic independence. Volunteers get the benefit of connecting with incredible, inspiring women on the rise!

Click here to find opportunities with your local Dress for Success chapter.

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