Dressing for Success

By Maureen O'Boyle - bio | email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV)  –   If you are one of the lucky ones, who is heading back to work, how do you dress for the part when you do not have much to spend?  I wanted to find out if it is possible to find a working wardrobe that can stretch a week, while stretching your dollar.

I turned to my good friends at Dress For Success Charlotte, a non-profit organization that is helping equip women with the skills and the attire to get a job.  Dress for Success provides its clients with an interview outfit and if they get the job, a week's worth of clothes to start their job out feeling sharp and ready.

One recent success story is Ruth Omondi, a woman who tells us she was banished from her home  when she could not give her husband a son.  Ruth, who is raising four girls on her own, turned to Dress for Success when stress caused her to loose weight and none of her professional clothes fit her.  The agency helped Ruth prepare not only with clothing, but also interviewing techniques.  In Ruth's culture in Kenya, an applicant doesn't look at a potential employer in the eye, this was something Ruth needed to change to succeed.  "I came here and the women empowered me not only with clothes but they taught me the skilled the interview skills and worked with me on my resume," said Omondi.

When Ruth got the job Dress provided her with a week's worth of clothing.  We wanted to add to that.  So we made her the beneficiary of our little shopping experiment.

I turned to Tina Thornton, a personal shopper with a knack for finding bargains.  "What I got her Maureen were staple pieces that every woman should have in their closet," said Thornton.  Thornton used a black jacket, skirt and pants as the basis for Ruth's wardrobe.  "We can do this up under the jacket," Thornton says referring to a crisp white blouse.  "Or put this nice cardigan with the skirt and it is a totally different look," said Thornton.

With twenty dollars to spare, Thornton purchased the jacket, pants, skirt, white blouse, pick sweater vest, gray cardigan and two necklaces and scarves from local thrift stores.  "All of the pieces we bought can be in the laundry you don't have to worry about dry cleaning, you press with a warm iron, on the inside and you are good," added Thornton.

With some scarves for accent color Ruth now has a crisp new wardrobe to wear as she begins this new chapter in her life.  "I feel loved, I feel confident, I feel at the top of the world," said Omondi.

There are many ways you can help Dress for Success Charlotte.  The organization is grateful for donations of clothing, time and money.  You can reach Tina Thornton at the email address below.