Vulnerable Manchester women’s lives ‘transformed’ with wardrobe makeovers and confidence coaching

By Daisy Yates

A Manchester charity that transforms female jobseekers into stylish and confidence candidates to help them wow interviewers and bag their dream job opened earlier this month.

Dress for Success Manchester was established to give women a helping hand in regaining the confidence they need to thrive in the workplace.

More than 40% of women who use the service are single parents; others may be ex-offenders, former drug addicts or be homeless but all clients must have been out of work over a year to be eligible.

Founder and CEO of Dress for Success Manchester, Anna-Louise Gilhooley, explained the ethos of the charity.

She said: “Our team give women the confidence to follow their own path to succeed and thrive in work and life.

“A visit to Dress for Success Manchester can change the course of a woman’s life.”

The charity, based in Parsonage Chambers, has 20 volunteers and is partnered with Jobcentre who refer jobseekers to them.

The process begins with a ‘style survey’ to help the stylist get to know what the client already feels comfortable with; it also begins to outline the issues the women have that need to be addressed.

The survey asks the client how they would rate their confidence before and after the Dress for Success experience and so far there has been an average increase in confidence levels of 60%.

The next stage sees the client styled in smart, professional ‘work attire’ to wear to her job interview.

The ‘makeover’ part of the process works by boosting the person’s confidence and ensuring they make a good first impression when they are looking for work.

The clients are given the full personal shopping experience and are given a five-day capsule wardrobe consisting of a suit, smart workwear, shoes and accessories in a luxurious boutique setting.

The charity works with major retail groups like JD Williams, Boohoo and TK Maxx who donate clothes from returns, extra stock and samples, with other donations coming from individuals or ‘suit drive’ fundraisers.

A senior executive then offers personal training which targets the root of problems identified earlier in the process and gives women the skills and confidence required to impress in an interview.

Even when they have found a job women helped by Dress for Success are given on-going support as they grow in their career.

Each successful woman becomes a member of the Professional Women Group which launches at the beginning of September, giving them the opportunity to network and build skills.

Jessica, who experienced the work Dress for Success do first-hand, told Granada Reports: “I see [my future] completely differently.

“I see myself climbing the ladder, I see myself working up from the bottom and working my way to the top.”

The charity began its work in 1997 and has since expanded to more than 90 countries including the US, the Netherlands and New Zealand and has helped more than 600,000 women work towards self-sufficiency. .

The team are planning huge events to raise awareness and funds for the charity, working with major make-up brand Bobby Brown and world-renowned fashion magazine Vogue, but they say they are desperate for more clothing donations.

The charity hopes to open more centres in other UK cities, develop a career centre and build networking groups.  

For more information visit

Picture courtesy of Carl Sukonic, with thanks

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