Students find the right fit for professional dress

Students had a wide variety of clothing and apparels to choose from.
Photo by Alexis Thornton
Ciara Clark, a FAMU third year Doctor of Pharmacy candidate, was able to find the right fit at last week’s Dress for Success event.
Photo by Alexis Thornton

By Alexis Thornton
Special to the Outlook

Some college students who are at the point where they should be stepping out for job interviews or internships, have a myriad of reasons why they worry about their attire.

Just affording the cost of getting through college is enough. The ones who come from low income backgrounds tend to worry the most and the COVID-19 pandemic made it worst, as the price of some essentials have skyrocketed.

Spending on some of those sometimes chumps saving to purchase a professional outfit.

Several female FAMU students got a bit of a reprieve last Tuesday at FAMU’s School of Pharmacy, where the Emerald Coast chapter of Dress for Success held a clothes giveaway. The event provided outfits for seniors from the business, engineering and pharmacy schools. Each student was allowed to chose up to three outfits.

“Overall, my experience was good and due to clothes being so expensive, it makes it hard for females to buy nice business attire,” said Anaya Morrison, a third year Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate. “It feels good to be able to come here and be assisted by older women who know the correct way to dress professionally.” 

The stop at FAMU was just one of several that Dress for Success, an international organization that empowers women through networking, makes across the country. This event was held in a partnership with the Tallahassee chapter of Links.

The only requirement that students had was to show proof of their enrollment and that they’re working towards a job or internship opportunity. Students, who later secure jobs and could show a letter of employment, could also return to the Dress for Success closet for up to five free outfits. 

“Seeing smiles on the students’ faces when they leave here is beautiful,” said Kimberly Hankerson, president of Tallahassee Chapter Links. 

In part, the event made “sure they are feeling beautiful inside and out by preparing them for the next level in their career,” she added, expressing hope that a similar event could take place in the fall.

There was not an obvious limitation on size or style at last Tuesday’s clothes giveaway. Ciara Clark, a third year Doctor of Pharmacy candidate at FAMU, wasn’t exactly sure what she would find. Her plus-size hasn’t always been easy to find.

“Being a plus-size girl, it’s great to finally be seen as a Black woman,” Clark said. “I love this organization and it’s definitely going in the right direction. Everything was top tier and on a come-as-you-are basis.”

Clark said she understood the mission of Dress for Success, but she would have liked to see a similar even for men. However, male students have been able to find suitable outfits at clothes closet stocked by the university.

Jayla Washington found the Dress for Success event and information about the organization useful. Students could benefit from a more than an occasional stop by the organization, she said.

“I wish this could be every semester or early in the semester so we can dress nicely and we can have our business attire in advance for job careers and internship opportunities,” she said.

Dress for Success has more than 140 affiliates in 23 countries. It is funded primarily by grants and donations that help to purchase clothes. It was started by Nancy Lublin, who used $5,000 inheritance to put the concept in motion.

The Emerald Coast chapter is led by director Erica Cortes. The chapter was founded by Gail Shorter-Judson, Ph.D., who is president of the organization’s board. Audra Pittman is chairperson of National Trends & Service with the Tallahassee Chapter of The Links, Inc. 

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