By Suellen Lazarus, Acting Co-Executive Director of Suited for Change
At Suited for Change, we know that a well dressed woman is a powerful woman. We serve women who have overcome tremendous obstacles on their way to self sufficiency and are ready to re-enter the workforce. Suited for Change addresses barriers unaccounted for by other workforce programs. We provide professional attire, personalized style mentoring and job-readiness skills to women seeking financial independence. Along with professional clothing, the women who come to Suited for Change gain a renewed sense of power and confidence. Our clothing and mentoring sessions help women enter job interviews with the capacity to succeed.
The women who come to the Suited for Change boutique each day are an inspiration. They arrive at the boutique nervous, often with little confidence, and without appropriate work clothing. Some have been victims of domestic violence. Others have been incarcerated. They are single parents with young children. But all of our clients have been through job training programs and are ready for their first interview. With the help of our volunteer stylists, they are transformed to professional women ready for the workforce. To see this transformation and hear their stories, to know the path that they have traveled, that is an inspiration.
A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of helping “suit” a group of women who were completing the culinary training program at DC Central Kitchen. They were about to graduate from the program and came to Suited for Change for interview clothing. I was lucky to attend their graduation breakfast and hear their stories and their extraordinary journeys. One of the women who had been through the suiting program had never held a job. She was a single parent and shy. She emerged from the boutique beautifully dressed in a black suit with a white silk blouse and pearls. At the graduation, I was delighted to learn that she had been hired at the Ritz Carlton as a pastry chef. This is just one story of many each day.
We celebrate everyday by giving women the opportunity to tell their stories, to make sure that others hear them and gain strength from them. Our goal is to share their stories so others can have optimism, hope and success.
For women preparing for interviews, and those returning after having secured a job, we would love to have greater accessibility to our programs. Many of our clients are single parents juggling beginning a new career, some find visiting our boutique during regular hours a significant barrier. We are located in an office building downtown. This has its advantages in accessibility for some but for others it can be challenging to get to. To provide our clients with additional appointment times and increase capacity, Suited for Change has begun offering weekend suiting hours and we hope to also add evening hours in 2017.
Suited for Change welcomes donations of gently used, current, pressed, clean, interview-ready clothing and accessories. Their boutique is located at 1010 Vermont Ave. NW Suite 450 Washington, DC 20005 Phone (202) 293-0351.