The way you dress speaks volumes.
ALG is in the business of making first impressions. Whether it is what you want your clients to think when they walk into your office or perhaps what you wish others to infer by your ensemble when you meet for the first time, image matters. Clothing is a powerful tool that can transform the way you think about and carry yourself. It sends a message to everyone you encounter; what you choose to wear will impact how others treat you. It is important to ask ourselves when we get dressed each morning, “What do I want to say today?” Our choice of attire makes us feel and behave in a certain manner as well as how others act around us.
Dress for Success New Orleans is an organization that believes that good clothing can open many doors. DFSNO understands the impact that clothing can have on an individual, and the team recognizes that a great ensemble leads to increased self-worth and a higher self-esteem. Although attire is only one aspect of the remarkable program, DFSNO is aware that clothing and confidence go hand-in-hand. We have been fortunate to work with them on a few events, and we firmly trust in their empowerment programs.
To become a client of DFSNO, referral agencies such as Grace House, Job 1, Liberty’s Kitchen, Café Reconcile, America Works, New Orleans Women and Children’s Shelter, Salvation Army, Tulane Paralegal Studies Program, Delgado Community College and Nunez Community College connect individuals with the DFSNO staff. These agency partnerships help identify women who, with a hand up, can become economically independent. DFSNO clients are women who are searching for a job or newly employed. Upon receiving a referral, the DFSNO client schedules an appointment to meet with a volunteer personal shopper to select professional interview attire and a career coach to work on a resume, cover letter and mock interview. If a woman needs services and is not already working with a referral agency, she may call (504) 891-4337 to schedule an appointment in the new Capital One Career Center to work on a resume and job-search strategy.
We take for granted that we have a choice of what we pick out of our closet each day to wear. We are fortunate to have options. In the DFSNO Suiting Program, clients are empowered through their choices in fashion. Many women are coming from a situation where they don’t get to decide where they sleep or what they eat; the act of choosing what to wear is a special moment. Volunteers act as personal shoppers and stylists to assist in using attire to transform the mindset of many of the individuals. Their clothing truly is a power suit.
Director of Programs, Brianna Reddeman, took some time to explain her involvement with DFSNO, the program’s personal impact on her own life and how DFSNO influences others.
ALG Style: We can only imagine the many powerful stories you have about your program and how many lives you have touched. What are some instances that stand out?
Brianna Reddeman: There have been so many rewarding moments. It’s often subsequent return visits when clients are in a place of stability and can reflect back on their often stressful, sometimes tumultuous transition out of unemployment and communicate their gratitude for the role Dress for Success New Orleans made in their lives. However, the small moments that spark excitement for their transition can be milestones in their journey. One specific client coming out of rehab, who was expecting to go back into her same server position despite receiving encouragement from her owner for management positions, put on a suit; looked in the mirror; and, for the first time, saw herself in this new professional light. That one moment gave her the confidence to reach beyond her comfort zone and believe in herself.
ALG: Do you have a personal memory where you believe that what you wore had an impact on your mood or how others treated you?
Reddeman: Every day! Specifically, shoes, handbags, colors and patterns … I remember the first day I met Diane Riche, then president of Dress for Success New Orleans, when I was applying for a part-time volunteer coordinator position with the organization in 2014. I was nervous, obviously wanting to make a good impression to the head of an organization that specifically focused on professional attire, and I knew my appearance would be scrutinized. I chose a dress with colors and patterns and shoes to match, which gave me the outward boost of confidence to project my inward certainty that I could take on that role.
ALG: Clothing can act as armor to face the world. We transform ourselves into different roles or characters by what we wear each day. Have you noticed this with yourself or with clients?
Reddeman: We often tell our clients, “Dress how you want to be addressed.” We see it every day — the transformation that comes from changing out of something like sweatpants and into a great fitting blazer or dress, and, all of sudden, women stand up a little straighter, smile brighter and project more confidence. You only get one first impression, and how you present yourself is such an important part of that.
ALG is honored to know and be involved with the staff of DFSNO. To become a volunteer, to give to their program or to donate clothing please visit:
700 Josephine St., Ste. 101
New Orleans, LA 70113
Happy shopping and give thanks!
–Aimée Gowland, ALG Style