Sunday, December 21, 2014

spéciale de la mode: Dress for Success Designer and Stylist Call

Dress for Success Central Virginia is calling all emerging and veteran designers to participate in our 3rd Annual Fashion Show & Fundraiser.

Each year Dress for Success provides hundreds of women with professional attire. All of our clothing comes from generous public donations. Occasionally, we receive donations that are not appropriate for work. However, we believe every article of clothing has a purpose. In 2012, we hosted our first Recycled Fashion Show and challenged local designers to create runway worthy designs from our collection of unworkable clothes.

This year the tradition continues with RED CARPET RUNWAY!
This year’s show features three categories:

Red Carpet Runway: Designers are challenged to recycle preselected garments in red carpet or runway ready looks! We’re talking high fashion! Designers can submit up to 3 looks but at least one of the designs must include red (Dress for Success’ signature color)

RVA designer spotlight: Local designers are invited to submit two of their personal and/or original designs to be featured in our fashion tribute to the River City

Dress for Success: Stylists are challenged to style our models using gently used professional wear from the Dress for Success boutique

Deadline for Entry: Friday, January 31, 2015
Designer Participation Fee: $30
Date of Event: Friday, April 17, 2015

Designs will be judged and prizes are awarded to the winners!
To participate in the show or for more information please contact

100% of proceeds benefit Dress for Success Central Virginia

Saturday, December 20, 2014

spéciale de la mode: Dress for Success Helps Women Gain Confidence

Ever thought what would happen if your clothes were lost in a house fire and money was scarce? Or what would you do if you had to flee an abusive relationship and leave most of your belongings behind?

While these scenarios may never happen to you, Loretta Harvey, the Boutique Manager at the Central Virginia chapter of Dress for Success, informed me of the above examples of how the local group is helping women in unfortunate situations.

Dress for Success is a worldwide nonprofit organization whose core mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life.

As a volunteer Personal Shopper, I understand why Career Center Manager Sandra Thompson is forever chanting the slogan of Dress for Success, which is “It’s way beyond the suit.”

In my fashion, volunteering as a Personal Shopper with Dress for Success is utilizing fashion  for its finest purpose: empowerment!

According to a 2013 study by the International Monetary Fund, “Women, Work and the Economy,” female labor force participation has remained low, around 50 percent. Being that women still fall under the categories of under-represented and under-served, each woman who is referred to be assisted by Dress for Success stands a chance to positively curve that statistic. 

Dress for Success Worldwide began in 1996, funded by a $5,000 inheritance that founder Nancy Nublin received from her great-grandfather. After the local chapter in the Central Virginia area folded six years ago, current Regional Director Shantell Malachi worked passionately to open the doors again in 2012. Volunteer committee organizer Sarah Hobgood reports that since the Central Virginia region re-established the chapter, it has served over 300 women in the area. Even though they are still in the beginning stages – their headquarters is in the basement of the Boulevard United Methodist Church – they are rapidly increasing their impact in the community. 

Dress for Success, which is eligible for contributions through the Campaign of Virginia Campaign (CVC), recently took another step forward to help women in need gain renewed hope in their journey with its first accessories drive. The drive at my department began Nov. 17 and ran through Dec. 5. 

I figured this would be the perfect time of the year for people to edit their closets, and called for black dress shoes and heels (especially, but not limited to, those above a size 9), handbags, and new hosiery. Scarves, jewelry and other accessories were also collected. In those three weeks (not including Thanksgiving break), I was able to collect over 750 items valuing over $4,600 based on Salvation Army Donation Values.

Although I was only calling for accessories, I still accepted donations of clothes and was able to stock the Boutique with more great garments, and was also able to gather items for our Dress For Success Fashion Show where we will have a competition for designers to take the clothing items that we cannot use to give for women to wear for work, and recycle those pieces into a couture piece of fashion which will be judged by a panel of judges. This is one of three competitions we have for our designers. I was very impressed by the items that I collected and look forward to seeing what designers create when we hold the show on April 17, 2015 at the Canal Club in Richmond, Virginia.

Friday, December 19, 2014

READing Your Style: Holiday Gift Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts of Exchanging Presents

Of course, this is crunch time for gift buying. This is the last weekend to Christmas, and if you hadn't bought gifts since Black Friday, in my fashion, the below advice will help you prioritize how you go about gift buying (especially if money is tight). Gift buying can be a tricky endeavor when it comes to certain people, but thankfully supplied us with an overview of Holiday Gift Etiquette to help us out during the next 5 days:

Which family members get gifts?
Aside from the obvious musts—mom, dad, siblings—how do you determine what family members get a gift over the holidays? “My family is so big, we usually limit gifts to immediate members, and then do a Secret Santa exchange with our extended family,” shares one writer. “We even set it all up online on a site called Elfster, which makes everyone’s life easier.” It seems many are turning to the Internet to organize their gift-giving these days. One editor admitted everyone in her family made online wish lists and then emailed them out to each other, taking the guessing out of the equation. If you’re spending Christmas with your in-laws, it’s okay to limit your giving to only your mother-in-law and father-in-law. “I used to only get presents for my boyfriend’s parents, until one year I branched out to his aunts, so then they felt obligated to get me something from then on,” says one editor. “I think in the end, skipping presents is almost appreciated on the other side. It takes the pressure off the table.”
What about your friends?
Most of the staff said they no longer exchange gifts with friends. “It was something I used to do back when I was in college,” says one editor. Instead, most of them now choose to do something together as a mutual present. “My girlfriends and I always decide on something fun like going to see a play or having a spa day or a very nice dinner,” says one writer. If you do exchange gifts with friends, make sure you open the gifts at home and not in front of each other, says one editor. “It’s better this way. There’s no awkwardness or comparisons among them.”
In new relationships
There was a bit of disagreement among our staff regarding gift-giving during an early courtship. “If you’ve just started dating someone, even if it’s only been a few weeks, a little token is always thoughtful,” says one writer. But one of our editors was strongly opposed: “I think you have to be seeing each other for at least six months before you start buying them anything!” The jury is still out on this one.
Office guidelines
As for who in the office gets a gift, the general feeling is you should give something to either your assistant or someone you work with very closely to show them how much you appreciate their effort throughout the year. As for your bosses, while it’s not obligatory, a little something never hurts. “They’re aware of your pay grade, so there’s really no need to impress them,” adds one fashion editor. Finally, if you love giving your office mates presents, make sure to bring a gift along for everyone—and keep it under $25. “You don’t want everyone to start speculating how much money you actually make,” says one writer.
What not to give
Even though we work in the fashion industry, all of us agreed that clothing is usually a bad idea—unless it’s something the other person has specifically mentioned they wanted in the past. “The holidays are really not the time of year to force your personal style on others,” said one fashion editor. Other faux pas? “I hate it when people give me a funny gift,” says one beauty editor. “Honestly, who has ever liked a gag gift?” Finally, the general consensus in the office is, unless you’re an actual chef, artist, or designer, stay away from anything homemade. “My friend always gives me this jar of some nonsense she makes in the kitchen,” says one writer. “Just give me a card next time.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

EDITOR'S LETTER: December 2014

During the Thanksgiving Holiday, on my visit back home, my brother introduced me to the greatness of the HBO series, Orange is the New Black. Whenever I come home to visit my family, my brother and I have time to catch up with each other by binge watching television series I am too busy to pay attention to with my normal busy schedule. When he mentioned he wanted me to watch the critically acclaimed show, I had my assumptions that the only reason my 17 year old brother was watching the show was because of the plethora of women’s locker room scenes, but I found myself utterly captivated and amused by the show and I stayed up till 5 o’clock in the morning watching the entire first season, well after my brother had decided to go to bed. In my fashion, “Orange is the New Black” is genius! 

Dress for Success Personal Shoppers assist clients with wardrobe attire for their new positions. Women who are referred to DFS go through a program where they get 1 initial suiting for their interview. If they are hired, they then get an additional 5 outfits to go towards their 1st work week and beginning of a more independent lifestyle.

For the past two months, I have been volunteering with the non-profit organization, Dress for Success of Central Virginia. If you are unfamiliar with the organization I suggest you check IMFblog later in the next few days to read the article I wrote for my company’s community newsletter on behalf of the Accessory Drive I conducted at my job for Dress for Success. Dress for Success’ main mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Having volunteered as personal shopper for the past two months, I am so proud to be affiliated with an organization that really speaks to the power of clothes, and the social responsibility of the fashion industry to use fashion for its finest purpose. Providing confidence! 

Considering, this is considered the season for giving I feel even better about assisting Dress for Success because it’s the holiday season and funds are looking a little funny in the gift buying department, so holding an Accessory Drive where I made a call for donations of dress shoes and heels, jewelry, handbags, and new hosiery was a really fitting for the time because in the two weeks I was able to collect over 750 items to stock the Dress for Success Boutique, as well as prepare us for our Dress For Success Fashion Show we are holding on April 17, 2015 at the Canal Club in Richmond, Virginia. There is no other satisfaction than being able to help someone get dressed and gain confidence to be able to forward their quality of life. In 2015, we are really looking to assist women who will be exiting correctional facilities to assist them with transitioning back into the public to start building a better life for themselves, so it was a coincidence for me when my brother had me watch “Orange is the New Black”, because now I have a new understanding and perspective on the lives of women in prison. 

I love the show because they will have a theme for what is going on in the episode, but on top of that they will show the back story of one of the women who correlates very closely with that theme for the episode, explaining why that particular women is in jail. Most women who are incarcerated are admitted because of self-defense or taking the fall for the crimes of another accomplice (i.e. brother, father, boy/girlfriend). Even though the women deserve time for their wrongdoing in most situations, the circumstances behind their actions is interesting to delve into. 

In my fashion, instead of receiving this season, giving to ones community can be just as fulfilling as receiving a Larson & Jennings chain metal watch (aside: on my wishlist), or the Hilfiger Collection shearling-lined army-green parka I have had an eye for since it was photographed in the October 2014 issue of Vogue. Thinking back to Audrey Hepburn, I have been inspired by how she contributed to UNICEF, giving her energy and notoriety to a noble cause. I am glad an organization such as Dress for Success exists and to have a great new project to be a part of in 2015.