Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Fashion does the job

The excellent charity Dressed for Success is a dead simple idea. Women have good clothes which for one reason or another they don't wear any more. Other women are trying to get a job but have nothing they can wear for the interview. Put the two together:

The women who walk through the doors of Dressed for Success find themselves there for all sorts of reasons. “I’ve dressed 17-year-old girls straight out of foster-care programmes, as well as a woman who was 65 and had been out of work for 15 years,” says Joanna, a volunteer. Juliet, who has been volunteering since closing her children’s clothing shop on Walton Street, agrees. “Women who have been out of the working loop for a while think everything will have moved on, that it’s going to be terrifying. And don’t I know the feeling?” she says. “They feel like a mummy who has been through the mill, and it’s just too frightening to go back.”

There are those simply looking for their first break, such as Colette, an asylum seeker and single mother in her late twenties from Burundi surviving on £100 a week in benefits, who went to Dress for Success before an interview for a job at the NHS. “I looked a mess. I couldn’t afford to buy clothes. But they gave me a suit and taught me how to wear high heels, and when I went back to the interview, one of the managers didn’t recognise me.” She also got the job.

School leavers and young single mothers need a special kind of encouragement. “Many of them have never worn a suit before,” says Eleanor, another volunteer. “When they see themselves in one, they suddenly go from a schoolgirl to a worker.”

And there's a very nice incentive to donate:

STYLE READER OFFER
From October 8 to October 22, Harvey Nichols is working with Dress for Success and Style to collect as many clothes for the charity as possible. Bring in your old designer dresses, coats and suits to the Harvey Nichols stores in Dublin, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leeds or Knightsbridge, or the new store in Bristol, and you’ll receive a voucher for 15% off your next purchase*. There are new collections arriving daily and, with your good deed done, you’ll have earned that gorgeous new Lanvin silk trench coat, the Jil Sander coat dress you’ve had your eye on, or those Jonathan Kelsey over-the-knee leather boots you simply must have.

I will definitely be taking them up on this and going through my wardrobe for all those, I'm sure I'll wear this again at some point, items.