I got a referral for Dress for Success through my local YWCA chapter. They booked me an appointment, and I can say that it was a great experience.
First, you are allowed to pick anything you want from a selection they have in the front room. I’m not sure if this is just in Vancouver, or if every Dress for Success chapter has the same policy. There were two clothing racks with clothes of different sizes, a rack of shoes and a shelf of cosmetics.
What I found: a gorgeous ruched cardigan, a striped Gap shirt, a black top from Northern Reflections ( a Canadian brand, very nice), a little Shiseido face serum, a sample of eye primer, and a salon-quality L’Oreal conditioner for frizzy hair (I have straight hair, but I grabbed it for a friend). They had a whole shelf of the L’Oreal stuff, so I imagine a store or a salon had donated it.
Then, I was introduced to a stylist who took me in the backroom. The backroom is huge and looks like a clothing store, with racks for different sizes and types of clothes. I had an hour to pick, with her help, a full work outfit. She was very nice and professional.
What I found: a nice pair of dress pants, a very flattering black coat, a pair of shoes that are both comfortable and dressy enough for an interview and a beautiful blue scarf. All new, or like new. I had no luck on the blazer and dress shirts; everything I found was either too big or too small. I couldn’t find a nice purse either, but purses I have.
On top of the clothes, shoes and purse, you get to choose two pieces of jewelry and two pieces of make-up.
What I found: a Dior eye-shadow kit (yes! Dior!), a Lancome lipstick and a novelty brooch, in the shape of a sewing machine. I got the brooch for my grandma, because she is a seamstress, and she has the exact same type of Singer sewing machine. I know she will love it! They also threw in an electric toothbrush.
When I got home, I googled the prices of the items and added them up, and turns out I got almost $500 worth of stuff! Amazing! Once I get a job, they give me two more outfits, and, if I join their Professional Women’s Association, I get two more outfits per year. So, in a year, I can get up to 5 outfits!
I would advise any lady who is currently unemployed and looking for work to try and get a referral to Dress for success. They were very professional, and the clothing selection was impressive. My size was a bit of an issue, but, for the smaller sizes, I saw some impressive items (even a new Michael Kors suit!).
You should also know that they receive donations from the general public. If you have any business clothes and accessories that are new or lightly-worn, and they don’t fit or suit you, you can always donate some to Dress for Success, so that other women can make use of them. I have already put together a bag of good clothes to take there.
Today, I hit a couple of thrift shops, and I found a matching blazer for $6, a pretty red shirt for $5, and two more pairs of dress pants for $1 each, all in perfect condition. Lucky day!