Dress for Success is a global not-for-profit that has been growing in Australia since 2009, and has so far has supported more than 17,000 women in New South Wales to get back on their feet and into the workforce. Here’s everything you need to know about the brand helping so many women, and how you can get involved.
“I feel powerful, worthy, and ready to take on the challenges that my new job will throw my way.”
You may have heard of Dress for Success Sydney’s signature styling service, where women looking to enter or re-enter the workforce are expertly styled in gently, pre-loved donated clothing.
In case you haven’t, Dress for Success is a global not-for-profit that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help them thrive in work and in life. The global brand is made up of 145 affiliates in 23 countries, with each Affiliate largely powered by volunteers.
Clients from all walks of life
Headquartered in Marrickville, many women overcome a great deal even before walking through the doors.
Dress for Success Sydney clients come from all walks of life and experience various degrees of poverty, hardship, disadvantage or abuse. Clients include young women from low socio-economic backgrounds at risk of disengaging from education, single mums struggling to provide for their families, mature women who lack adequate levels of superannuation and savings and are at risk of living in poverty, women exiting corrective facilities, domestic violence survivors, women with disabilities, and newly arrived migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
Women are referred to Dress for Success by employment agencies, migrant services, Indigenous services, disability service providers, social workers, as well as a diverse range of charities including Vinnies, Wesley Mission and Youth Off the Streets, schools and other social agencies and community groups.
Dress for Success Sydney’s programs provide donated work clothing, mentoring, job-search skills, career coaching, and networking at no cost to the women using the services.
During the pandemic, 66% of clients were not receiving an income and 29% were at risk of losing their housing…
The impact of the pandemic has not only created devastating consequences of job loss and associated domestic complexities and stresses, but ongoing challenges of navigating and surviving the consequences of the current rapid workplace transition. For the first time in history, we are in a global “she-cession” – an economic downturn where job and income losses are affecting women more than men.
When the 2020 pandemic hit, like many charities and businesses, the organisation suffered staff losses and had to pivot quickly to ensure doors stayed open for their clients. Face-to-face styling was put on hold and all workshops and one-on-one services were moved online.
Services have been more in demand than ever before – sudden job and income loss have been experienced by women in every industry and point in their career.
Even though in-person services have been suspended several times, Dress for Success Sydney was still able to help prepare more than 3,500 women for an interview through their career support program, providing interview preparation, coaching services and supplying them with clothing.
Expanding reach with Career Hub
Dress for Success Sydney is on a mission to be the leading organisation in Australia for the empowerment of women through employability services.
However, without consistent government funding, the organisation relies on generous donations from fundraising campaigns and revenue from pop-up fashion sales to fund operations and develop innovative programming: Success Works supports women released from prison, Style Delivered sends clothing to women in regional NSW, and the newly launched Career Hub allows access to on-demand workshops and resources 24/7, anywhere in Australia
Dress for Success Sydney’s programs and services are available to any woman in NSW, wanting to enter or reenter the workforce. They offer styling and presentation skills (in-person and virtually) and a holistic suite of workshops and one-on-one services (resume review, mock interviews, mentoring). To get started, click here.
Get Involved: Empower Hour
Empower Hour is coming up in March – their goal is to transition more than 700 women from welfare to work.
The ask is small but the impact is huge – all you need to do is pledge one hour of your pay to help a woman who is struggling to achieve employment and financial stability. Your hour is more than just a gift — it’s an investment in the future. When women work, families thrive, communities prosper, and the economy grows.
More ways you can support Dress for Success:
- Donate clothes: your gently-used corporate or smart clothing gives a woman a new start.
- Donation drives: Hold a suit drive and make a difference in your community.
- Volunteer: Volunteers are involved in a number of different areas from assisting with their Career Support Program to becoming a stylist and helping women find the right clothes.
- Fundraise for Success: Find out how.