Dress for Success sees a spike in demand as workers return to the office

As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes workers are getting back to the office and some need to dress the part, and a charity that supports women entering the workforce says they are seeing a growing need for their services.

Dress for Success is located in 13 cities across the country, including Kingston and Ottawa. The charity supports women who are entering the workforce by supplying them with professional clothing for the office and job interviews.

Hanna Kitchingman, executive director of the Kingston branch, says they have seen an increase in clients using their services as more people find themselves searching for work or being called back to the office as restrictions ease.

“In 2021 we suited 155 women. As of 2022 we’ve already suited 90 women in the community,” she explains. “So we have seen that increase.”

The organization provides women with everything they could need, from blazers to dresses, shoes and accessories, for one-time job interviews or a week’s worth of clothing for work.

Kitchingman says the increase is coming from students and recent graduates looking for work, but also single mothers, and those who cannot afford the added expense of new clothes.

“Two years sitting at home you’ve either outgrown your clothes or the styles don’t work for you anymore, or maybe you had to sell them because you were in financial straits and stuff like that,” she says. “Now women are coming in and they are needing the help of getting those clothes.”

Kimberley Falk is a former client. She says she turned to Dress For Success as she was graduating from college a few years ago.

“The business clothes that I’m wearing…will make an impact on first impressions that people will have of you, it’s huge,” she explains.

Still, Falk says her priority was feeding and caring for her young son, but knew having a sharp wardrobe was important for her future.

“It gives you the confidence that you need to really speak up for yourself for interviews and even in work,” she says.

The organization says to meet the demand; they’re looking for more donations, including gently used, seasonal and in-style business wear. 

Volunteer Ally Forbes says they need all sizes to help their clients.

“Being able to wear clothes that you feel confident in and you can keep up with everyone else at work or in your interviews to set yourself apart is very important to be a woman in the workplace,” she explains. 

Now, working as a freelance writer, Falk says the organization has helped her when she needed it most. 

“Having those business clothes really gave me the confidence to think that i could do more than what I thought I could do when I started,” she explains. 

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