WIW 8/31 to volunteer for Dress for Success (my first time!)

I've been with YLF for one year now and it has changed my life for the better in so many ways (besides upgrading my clothes)! I've already met several of you in person and I feel like I "know" so many more of you and consider you all my friends. This is such a warm and inspiring community!

I've posted several times before about trying to reconcile my newfound interest in fashion with worrying whether it is too vain or frivolous to keep taking pictures of myself and spending so much time obsessing about something so superficial as clothes and my appearance. Here is the most recent thread I posted about it:

As a result of that thread, I decided to look into volunteering for Dress for Success, as Claire has written several times about her experiences volunteering there and I was really inspired by her posts:
I figured this would be the perfect way to put my newly-learned fashion skills to good use and not feel guilty about it anymore!

I'm sure you know about Dress for Success already because of Claire, but in case you don't, they provide donated suits and business clothes, shoes and accessories to underprivileged women who are actively looking for work or starting a new job. They also provide career counseling sevices and mentoring and educational talks/workshops. They rely mostly on volunteers to help with all of these services so it's not just personal shopping that they need help with.
Here is the DFS website:

Earlier this month I went to a DFS volunteer orientation meeting. Since I had taken this week off for the kids' first week of school (kindergarten and preschool!) I was able to spare an afternoon to do my first volunteer shift (I had to have the nanny pick the kids up from school, but it wasn't their first day so I figured it was OK).

I wore my MaryK swap jacket, black H&M tank, black pencil skirt, WHBM necklace, red Clark pumps and red Fossil bag. I already posted this outfit a couple of weeks ago but I thought it would be appropriate for the occasion. And I can't believe I still fit into this pencil skirt even in my 2nd trimester so I'm just enjoying it while I still can!

I worked with two clients today--normally they would have 3-4 clients over the 2 hours, but since it was my first day it was great to have the extra time, since I was still trying to figure out how it works and the first client was late. They both agreed to let me take pics to share! I forgot to take pics of the "store", but you can sort of see it in the background. Not as super fancy as Claire's Phoenix branch, but still very nice!

The first client was petite and size 0. We really didn't have much stock in that small of a size so we ended up with a size 2 chocolate brown skirt suit. I helped her pick a striped button down blouse with teal, olive and brown pinstripes and a green glass bead necklace, and a pair of Mary Jane pumps and an olive green and gold patterned scarf that she can wear with solid tops. She also picked a D&G handbag. She looked really sharp and professional!

The second client said she did not want a suit but was looking for slacks and a nice shirt. She was a pear, so the pants that fit her thighs were all too loose in the waist. I found some charcoal trousers that fit really nicely in the legs so I added a burgundy croc texture belt to cinch in the waist. I found her a button down blouse with French blue, grey and raspberry colored stripes and she really liked it! Then a purple beaded Y necklace and some purple ballet flats (she walks a lot so she didn't want heels). And a burgundy handbag. I also found her a lilac solid color blouse and a eggplant colored patterned scarf so she would have another option. She was really happy with her outfit and told me I have a good eye, which was a really nice compliment.

I talked with both of them throughout, asking them about their job plans and resume, asking them mock interview questions and coaching them on how to respond to questions, tips on nonverbal presentation, how to appear more confident and professional, etc. This counseling is supposed to be part of the personal shopping appointment, so it's not just a "shopping trip" but keeps things focused on the job search and their future.

But I could tell that both of them appeared much more confident with nice business attire on! Their demeanor and the way they carried themselves changed. Clothes do play a big part in our confidence and presentation, and first impressions do count for a lot especially for interviews! So fashion is really important after all, and I'm glad I was able to share what I've learned and finally do some good with it!

I really have Angie and you all to thank for giving me the confidence to try something like this, which is so outside my comfort zone. If you had told me a year (or even a few months ago) that I would be shopping for and dressing other people, I would have thought you were crazy! I don't even feel like I have a handle on shopping for myself yet! And I'm kind of an introvert and don't really like to volunteer for things if I don't feel like I'm an expert or the most qualified. But with the confidence I've gained from YLF and revamping my entire wardrobe pretty much from scratch, I learned that sometimes you have to just jump in and do things! So I'm really happy I took a chance and conquered my fears!

I've even volunteered to be a room parent at DD's school, which is something I never would have done before either (I hate public speaking and I'm not an "outgoing leader" type). First meeting was today as well. Thankfully three other moms signed up, so I don't have to be the lead parent, but I'm still glad I'm pushing my comfort boundaries. Just like I did with fashion!

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope if any of you are motivated, you will look into volunteering at DFS too! (I won't be able to volunteer every week like Claire or Angie, but I think every 1-2 months or so will fit into my schedule, and they appreciate any help they can get). And they can always use more clothes, shoes, purse, scarf and jewelry donations too--all sizes, so consider donating your purged wardrobe items to DFS. Thanks Claire for spreading the word about DFS and thanks Angie and YLF for giving me the confidence and fashion know-how to become a personal shopper for them! This was so much fun! I can't wait to do it again!


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →