Now Or Never

Dress for Success empowers women getting back into the job market

It's a boutique with plush carpeting, chandeliers, Prada bags on display and Sally Walls is pulling blouses and dress pants off the racks, helping a young woman select an outfit. But this isn't your average store. All the clothes in here are second-hand, and the people who work here are volunteers.
Dress For Success stylist Sally Walls works with Ashley Middlemiss to get her interview ready. (Now or Never Ify Chiwetelu)

It's a boutique with plush carpeting, chandeliers, Prada bags on display and Sally Walls is pulling blouses and dress pants off the racks, helping a young woman select an outfit. 

But this isn't your average store. All the clothes in here are second-hand, and the people who work here are volunteers. It's called Dress for Success, and it helps economically disadvantaged women get back into the workforce by styling them in killer outfits for job interviews.

"This organization is really about empowering women to take those next steps in life," Walls explained. "We've heard many stories over the years, women that come out of incredible adversity, some of them even escaping with their lives, to women who, after many years of being home with children, want to rediscover themselves again."

Ashley Middlemiss, 26, has been unemployed since August, 2016. She's a single mother of three, and is trying to balance being that while looking for work.

"I've been going out to businesses ... asking them if they're hiring, dropping off resumés even if they're not hiring, applying [online]. There are some companies that will take someone that doesn't necessarily have all the qualifications because they can't afford to pay someone that's got the degree that they're looking for, so I'm hoping to find a job somewhere in there," she said.  
Ashley before and after her consultation at Dress For Success (Now or Never Ify Chiwetelu)


Middlemiss said she's come to Dress for Success so she doesn't have to show up to her next job interview in yoga pants and a T-shirt. "My children [motivate me], knowing that I want to give them a better life than I got growing up, that's what I want to give for my kids, so I push through every day trying to get my goal in the end. Hopefully we get there soon."

With help, Middlemiss will be selecting two outfits, including shoes and jewellery. For Walls, seeing clients leave happy is reward enough. "I've styled hundreds of women," she said. "I've never had a client go out not feeling beautiful, not having found a great wardrobe."

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