Dressing for Success

This is a cross-post over at WeAretheRealDeal today.

DressForSuccessLogoIt might seem ill-timing and perhaps even a bit vain to be blogging about body image issues during one of the worst recessions our country has seen …

When our own neighbors are losing their jobs and their homes to foreclosure; when health care costs are rising and bankrupting so many; when companies continue to cut back on staff and resources; when people don’t know if they will have any heat this winter or be able to put food in their children’s mouths.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it; it’s ugly out there. There’s no use sugar-coating it.

But the truth is, so much of our self-esteem is tied to how we feel about ourselves (i.e., our body image.)

And when we feel good about ourselves, we’re more likely to nail an interview; have the confidence to ask for time off that we need to take care of our sick families; take a professional or personal risk; negotiate a utility bill, lease, or mortgage.

Often as women, how we feel about ourselves is directly related to our appearance, and I don’t necessarily mean in terms of body size.

Sometimes just putting on a special wrap-dress, pair of heels, swipe of lip gloss, or long, dangly necklace can make us feel like a princess … or just, well, like a woman.

While we might feel just as good about ourselves in a pair of yoga pants (and more power to you, if so!), the likelihood of scoring a job in said yoga pants is slim to none because, though it’s unfair, first impressions do matter.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are judged by our appearance, especially when it comes to how we present ourselves on job interviews, and especially when job opportunities are so few and far between.

In challenging economic times like these, we can’t afford to not put our best foot forward. Yet not all women are so lucky as to have a closet full of appropriate business-attire from which to choose an ensemble for an interview.

That’s where the amazing international non-profit Dress for Success comes in.

You see, though I feel blessed to have a wonderful full-time job, on the side (and pretty infrequently, I might add, given this economy), I am a Lia Sophia jewelry consultant.

And one of the reasons I’m such a big proponent of the company (besides its mission to empower women) is its affiliation with Dress for Success, which provides disadvantaged women with professional attire (suits and accessories) to make them feel good about themselves for job interviews and upon entering the workforce; a network of support, and career development tools to help them get on their feet and stay on their feet.

What I love is that each time a new catalog comes out, Lia Sophia designates one piece of jewelry its “awareness piece” which we advisors call attention to during our shows. The company also donates jewelry to Dress for Success to help women feel as put-together as possible and makes monetary contributions throughout the year.

We know confidence should come from within; of course.

But sometimes all it takes is a suit that fits; shoes that match; a stylish bag to make a woman feel good about herself. And if that confidence can exude to her job interview and then throughout her career, isn’t that worth it?

No, nice clothes and accessories can’t pay her electric bills, put food on the table, or buy her child new sneakers … but these things can bring a certain piece of mind that every woman deserves; comfort in knowing that she is presenting a more polished version of her awesome self, so that what she feels on the outside now might work its way inside, too.

So will you join me in making a personal commitment to Dress for Success?

After years of working in D.C. at trade associations and in government (where I wore suits quite often), I now work in advertising. I can tell you that after three years and two months on the job, the only time I’ve worn a suit was my interview day.

So I have tons of great Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft suits from my D.C. days in my closet collecting dust that I will definitely be donating to Dress for Success this month.

I believe every woman ought to feel empowered; we might not all be blessed with a huge closet but at least we can help another woman get on her feet and stay on her feet.

Sometimes things like clothes and accessories really do have amazing powers that can lead to other great things. And in these tough times, there’s truly no time like the present to give someone else that gift of potential.

How about you? Will you join me? Do you have any old suits (too big or too small) lying around in your closet? Would you be willing to donate them to disadvantaged women?

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