Courtesy of Sarah Dunifon
September is now behind us, and many students have started to feel the pressure of the internship and job search. With the career fair on Oct. 3, students were preoccupied with resumes, cover letters, interviews and the need to dress professionally. Unfortunately, business casual and business formal can be extremely pricey, especially when it comes to women’s clothing. Luckily, the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women was transformed into a clothing store on Tuesday, with dozens of students, faculty, staff and community members pouring in for the Dress for Less event.
Dress for Less is an event sponsored by Dress for Success, an international nonprofit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence. Since 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to cover over 150 cities in 30 countries, including right here in Cleveland. The event offered suits, blazers, tops, skirts, purses, shoes and even jewelry, all for only $2 per item.
“I think this is a fantastic opportunity to easily get access to business casual clothes right before the career fair,” said Jas Philipoom, a fourth-year student. “Especially because a lot of people who are younger on this campus might not only [not] have the financial resources but the time or knowledge of how to get somewhere that sells business casual clothes or how to use the RTA, and then there’s the expense on top of that. So this opportunity that is on campus right when you need it and has all kinds of selections is absolutely invaluable and I’m so glad that occurs.”
Sarah Dunifon, associate director for Women in Science and Engineering Roundtable, explained that “at the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, we work to empower all women and promote gender equity and inclusion across campus. The Dress for Less event is such a good fit for the type of work that we do. Once a year, we partner with Dress for Success of Cleveland and bring in racks of suits, blazers, blouses and other professional attire. We open the sale up to the CWRU community and are always blown away by the amount of attention the sale receives. It is clear that the CWRU community is eager for opportunities like these.”
Dunifon continued, “For many of our attendees, this might be the first professional outfit they’ve ever owned, and so it is important to us that we provide an accessible way for women to get outfit styling assistance and be able to purchase professional attire at a super discounted rate. I hope that attendees come away from this event feeling good about themselves, having the right type of professional attire to tackle the Career Fair or an upcoming interview and feel a sense of community with other women on our campus.”
“Hosting this kind of event here on campus really helps in terms of equity and inclusion and making sure women are as prepared as possible,” said Danielle Sabo, the advocate for gender violence prevention and response in the Flora Stone Mather Center. “Dress for Success is a really amazing national company that does incredible work in terms of making sure all populations have the same access to a fashionable, professional wardrobe that again, keeps everyone in the running for the same professional opportunities and makes sure people aren’t excluded just because they can’t afford a suit. They’ve done wonders nationally and they’re really good just for the area itself, so they are a natural partner. Plus, they supply such amazing clothes!”
According to Sabo, it’s no coincidence that the Dress for Less was scheduled so opportunely for the Career Fair. “We always try to strategically place this event at the same time as either the career fair that’s happening or we know of conferences that are occurring so students, staff, faculty who need [a] professional wardrobe but maybe don’t have the finances to [to acquire one can do so]. We like to strategically do it at the same time so that again, students are feeling empowered, good about themselves and ready to go to any of these events for a price that is inclusive of all individuals budgets.”
The sale had a wide selection of high-quality professional clothes and accessories. Most attendees left with styles that could have cost upwards of $100 if purchased elsewhere. Overall, the sale came at the perfect time, especially for students, to find professional wear at extremely affordable prices.