How to Let The Government Help You Dress For a Fabulous Job Interview


It’s finally happened! You have finally spotted the dream job that you know that you are absolutely perfect for. Whether it’s the pay, the hours, the location, or the fact that this job uses all of your skills, you really, really want this job. You wear your lucky blouse, or your favorite suit, and you ace that interview. Congratulations! Then you get the callback for a second interview, and you know that this is your shot. Then you realize that outside that lucky blouse, the favorite suit, and your jeans…your wardrobe is kind of lacking. When ( not if) you get this job, WHAT are you going to wear? Somehow it’s hard to think that your co-workers will be as impressed by the suit the 14th day in a row.

Or maybe it’s NOT the perfect job, but it’s a paycheck. Maybe it’s actually a job that you won’t like very much at all, and you’ll be standing on your feet all day. In shoes that have to be slip-resistant, and you have to wear a new belt. When it is going to be three weeks till your first paycheck, and you just don’t have the money for any of it, what are you going to do?

There are a ton of ways that you can create a new wardrobe, and many of them are the result of just a little research. Once approved, you may receive a voucher for used clothing, referrals to clothing closets, or reimbursement for the necessary clothing that you have already purchased. If you are going to be reimbursed, you should save your receipts and make sure that you have purchased clothing from approved places. This is most common with things like slip-proof shoes, or uniforms.

Dress For Success

Dress For Success may very well be one of the most well-known charities. Created in New York City in 1997, more than 50,000 women in at least ten countries have benefited from their services. The typical applicant receives a referral from any of the 3,000 referring agencies and receives one suit, with appropriate accessories if available, that is appropriate for one interview. Once she has gotten a job offer, she will then be able to return for several pieces of clothing that can be alternated to form the basics of a professional wardrobe.

When you receive your clothing, it is most likely to be newly cleaned and pressed, and may include of the following:

1) Blouses
2) Skirts
3) Blazers
4) Jackets
5) New, unused pantyhose
6) Pant suits
7) Dresses
8) Professional shoes

You will NOT receive old or dated clothing, nor will you get clothing that is not appropriate for work.

That means that you will also not be able to ask for casual clothing or evening dresses. For more information on this program, visit their website at: http://www.dressforsuccess.org/contacts_home.aspx.

To find out who in your town refers to Dress For Success, you can call battered women’s shelters, unemployment offices, or homeless shelters.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army offers help all year long, but most of the time you see them during the Christmas season. At many locations, they have thrift stores that sell used clothing that has been donated. Although this is always going to be hit or miss, and no-one can guarantee you a perfect outfit, people that are in need can often go to(or call) the administrative offices and ask for a voucher for clothing.

You will usually be able to get anywhere from two to five changes of clothing, socks, and under-garments if available. You will also be able to get one or two pairs of shoes.

If you would like to find out if there is a Salvation Army that can help you, you can type your zip code in to their web page here: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf/vw-local/Home.

In bigger cities, you can usually take your voucher to several different locations, which may be particularly helpful if you need specific clothing items like uniforms or slip-resistant shoes.

If you are doing so, just make sure that the sales clerks at each location notate how many items of what type you have gotten so that you do not accidentally make your voucher invalid. You should also make sure that you are allowed to visit different stores in your area, and the person who give you the voucher should be able to tell you if that is okay.

Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries has locations in practically every town. If it is not in your area, you probably have one very near-by. Goodwill is another thrift store, and is very much like the Salvation Army, but chooses to use much of the money that they earn for things like job training and help for people with disabilities. They still use some funds for community services though, and are an excellent resource for people who are having a tough time providing the basics.

Goodwill works with a variety of social service agencies, so if you currently receive or are eligible for benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, cash aid, subsidized housing, or help with utility bills, you are probably eligible. You will need to contact the agency that administers those services, if you would like more information and receive those services. You could easily be eligible even if you don’t get, or are not eligible for, state benefits. You are judged by your current income, family size, and expenses, as well as any unexpected events that have happened.

Clothing Closets

A clothing closet is usually not an actual closet when we are talking about clothing donations. Instead it is a room or series of rooms that are filled with donated clothing. You can often find them at battered women’s shelters, homeless shelters, and other social services agencies. They are also found in conjunction with food banks and churches that offer other help. If you are already getting help from one of those two places, you could just call and ask. You will very rarely hear someone say they wish they had not learned about the resources that are available, but it’s pretty common to hear someone say that they wished that they knew something last month, last year, etc.

In essence, people donate their used clothing to these non-profit centers. You are given the opportunity to pick through their stock and take home what you like, within reason. You will be asked not to give away or sell anything that you take home, and to only take what you or other members of your household will be able to use. To find the nearest clothing closet, or if you find yourself in need of more clothing than you could expect to get from one location, visit http://www.211.org/ and type in your zip code.

Uniforms, Scrubs, and Work-shoes

If you are not already familiar with free-cycle and Craigslist, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

Free-cycle is literally recycling personal and household goods that you are no longer needing, and giving them to people who can. You will commonly see children’s items, furniture, and adult clothing and shoes. You will usually be asked to offer something before you ask for something, but it can be something small. And except for emergencies, it’s probably not too hard for most people to find something you don’t use and have been meaning to give away.

Once you’ve offered something up, you can ask for the items you’re looking for. That can include the size 12 wide white nursing shoes, the blue scrubs top, the black pants in size 2 petite, or whatever else.

Or all of those, but you will usually have to ask for them in one posting. For more information, visit the free-cycle website here, http://www.freecycle.org/ and you should be able to find a group near you.

Craigslist is a web-site devoted to helping people find everything. Whether you are looking to buy a car, rent a home, get a new stroller, or find new clothing, there is probably a category for it. Free to use, Craigslist also has a “free” category, as well as a “wanted” category. You can look daily on the free category, as well as the “clothing” to see if someone is selling what you need. You can also post an ad ( for free, you have never been asked to pay for an ad as of December 2010).

Although you may not necessarily be able to get what you need for free, you stand a good chance of doing so. You might also want to consider posting an ad in the “barter” section if you are willing to exchange something that you have for something that you want. You will definitely need to be careful when you meet someone from Craigslist, and if possible, meet the person in public.

Your clothing, and the way that you present yourself, are often some of the first thing that a prospective employer will notice about you. A classic black suit, an understated pant-suit, or an appealing skirt and blouse set are often what an interviewer expects to see you in, and failure to appear in that manner could easily doom you to to never hearing back from them.