As you probably have seen from my Facebook page updates, I have officially started my internship with Dress for Success! I will be blogging about EVERY SINGLE DAY of my internship, for three reasons.
First, I want to document my journey, learning process, and experiences during this summer to be able to reflect upon afterward. Second, I want to provide myself with this constant reminder to make everyday of the internship count. Often times, we settle into things, and overtime things become routines, and routines become have-tos, not want-tos. I want to remind myself that each day will be a new, special day to learn and to contribute to the organization. And third, Dress for Success is obviously doing amazing work for women and of course I want to share it!!
First days! They are always the most interesting. I step into the elevator and press “M” for Mezzanine. After the flurry of meeting all the wonderful staff members – and the beginning of a long day for my feet in these pumps – I began my first task: shadowing Christine, a volunteer for Dress for Success for a few years now, in dressing women for employment and interviews. All appointments are scheduled and displayed on an organized chart daily, so we knew who to expect, what the woman’s size will be, and what her needs are for today. While we waited for our client, we scanned the racks for potential candidates in her size. At this time, I also met Marg, another long-time volunteer, who also has an impeccable fashion sense and attention to detail (one of the things I learned from Marg later on is that, if your pencil skirt awkwardly juts out in the back, simply hem in a centimetre down the skirt seams on both sides – that should make the back taper straight down!).
Our first client of the day arrives! She recently finished a program in dinning hall services, and needed a black and white outfit for her interview to become a dinning hall server. Christine opened up the environment to her and suggested several pieces; asking if she is open to black skirts or pants, or had a specific preference.
While I shadowed Christine, found black shoes from the back-back-room, and searched for a simple, black, handbag, Marg and Caroline helped another client. This client walked in with a simple t-shirt, shorts, and hardcore boots, and was needing an outfit to go in her interview. A classic, printed wrap dress was decided after many changes – and wow! It looked absolutely amazing on her!! She looked so professional, and the wrap dress fitted like it was made for her. With her naturally curled, blonde shoulder-length hair, her entire look spell “executive” – and “confidence”. Her smile – laugh – as she turned at the mirror to look at all angles of the dress on her was so bright and satisfied; she was so empowered and happy, and her expression spoke a million appreciations for the support she received. It made me so happy too – here I was, on my first day, and witnessing such amazing results from the dressing services.
But as the self-deprecating girls/women that we are, we then take another look at ourselves and at our complete satisfaction with the way we look, and then slowly unleash our most unreasonable self-critics: “It’s…fla…forgiving, I think! It looks forgiving of my curves”, she exclaimed. “Forgiving”?! No, it looks completely flattering on you. She looked so beautiful and confident in that dress, and I really hope she knows that.
This was also true with our second client, who looked so professional and ecstatically happy in her new clothes – which she will wear to her new employment as a law firm receptionist – but only said “I don’t mind that skirt on me at all. I like it.” But she looked AMAZING.
I’m writing about this because I can relate to these women, and I know that the girls/women in my life do too. And I think that support – even if it’s just a genuine reminder of how beautiful another person is, inside and out, can go a long way. It can change the way someone perceives themselves and how clothes look on them – it makes the huge difference between “flattering” and merely “forgiving”.
Saying goodbye to the staff at the end of the day, I felt already at home. I am super, super looking forward to the rest of this month. I will end this blog post now with the acidic, coffee-brewing smell of a Starbucks store – I have SO much more to say, but this thing is getting a bit too long! So glad I have the rest of the month to capture more of these moments!!
And I hope everyone is enjoying the SUNSHINE we’re getting this year! (And I promise to upload more photos throughout the month!)
With lots of happiness,
Miss Teenage Vancouver