Dressing Ward Four Women for Success

While job hunting is daunting, landing the job can be worse, especially for women. 

According to a study done by the University of the West of Scotland, women are predominantly being judged by their looks, while male candidates are judged by the type of content on their resumes.

With that being said, is there any way for a woman to get the job without the latest fashions, toned physiques, and glamour make-up and hair?

Dress for Success [DFSDC] in Washington D.C. says yes, by empowering women to secure poverty-free lives and being “much more than simply a new outfit.”

Dress for Success is located in Ward Four- Photo by Ayanna Alexander

DFS Executive Director, Amanda Knott, has worked tirelessly to ensure that women have many different ways to achieve economic independence.

“The mission of DFSDC is to promote 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,” Knott said.

In order to promote economic independence, Knott explained that DFSDC is currently creating different programs for women to learn about themselves and their careers of choice, while networking with women just like them.

“We are looking forward to beginning our Going Places Network (GPN) Workforce Development Program this fall,” she said. “We will capacitate up to 40 women and prepare them for permanent employment from the end of September to the beginning of December.”

The GPN program provides two sessions, starting in Sept. 28, 2016, on Mondays and Wednesdays discussing job readiness. It’s highlighted the need for resume customization, personal image branding, job search & optimization techniques, interview skill improvement, and much more.

Residing in Ward Four for three years, the staff of DFS pride themselves on establishing life-long connections with the women in the community. Not only do they offer clothes for interviews and various workshops, they also reach out to the Ward Four women to become volunteers for the organization and give back to those in need.

In fact, staff member, Sheila A. Melvin, described the organization as “uplifting”, in terms of what they do for all women.

“[It’s] Uplifting,” she began. “Because when the ladies leave here, they feel that they’re better prepared for that interview than before they came in here”

The non profit's aim is to outfit lower income women with clothes for job interviews- Photo by
Ayanna Alexander

After being employed by DFSDC for a little over a year, Melvin sees the impact that the organization has had on women not only in Ward Four, but all over D.C.

“Well it’s not just Ward Four, but the people that also come in here are from Wards Eight, Seven, and Six,” she said. “Although it’s pretty affluent, we have a lot of women who not only donate, but are clients from Ward Four. The women are so grateful, the young ones that have never owned a suit. I just get so much pleasure from helping them,” she said. 

As Melvin talked about the benefits of DFSDC, her first appointment of the day, came through the door, eager to sharpen her image for her interview on Thursday.

First time client, Tabitha Alexander, was sent by a local agency to aid her in obtaining Thursday’s attire. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but she was beyond excited to pick through and try on clothes.

“[I’m looking for] something that fits and gets me hired,”she joked. “I’m not big on heels. It’s a lot to look through. I’ve always heard that this place would help with finding interview looks and assist you with that. I don’t know, but I’m excited to see what I can get.”

DFSDC may be seen as an organization that just provides outfits, however, Knott and her staff constantly show that they’re not just about dressing nicely, but they also want to change women from the inside.

“We dress women on the outside and the inside for their journey,” she said. “We hope that they will feel like a part of a sisterhood after leaving DFS and that they will stay connected to the network of support that we provide through continued professional and workforce development training.”