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NEW YORK — For many women, rejoining the workforce means more than getting a wardrobe update.
This story first appeared in the July 21, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That’s the philosophy of Bottomless Closet, a nonprofit organization with a mission to prepare women for job interviews through coaching and seminars as well as providing them with proper business attire. The organization, founded in Chicago in 1991, opened its Manhattan chapter in 1999. Since then, it has helped more than 3,000 women find jobs in the city.
On July 17, Bottomless Closet held a seminar, “Attitude Through Transition,” given by Susan Taylor, editorial director of Essence magazine. Taylor’s empowering message to the audience was to sift through the emotional problems that come with life in order to succeed.
“We all have a story and I am here because you are me,” she said of her years living in poverty after her husband left her with a six-week-old baby. “No matter who you are, life is going to knock you down, so you need to learn how to deal with that.”
Taylor said she began her career at Essence with only a high school diploma. She eventually chose to go back to school, for more opportunity.
“When I started at Essence I was making $500 a week,” she said. “My rent was $360.”
Elizabeth Tighe, a founding member of Bottomless Closet in Manhattan and executive marketing director at WWD parent Fairchild Publications, said while clothes are important for success in the workplace, it’s equally as important to keep these women working.
“When these women come to us, we give them two outfits appropriate for interviewing. Once they get the job, they receive three more,” Tighe explained. “That way they have a whole week of clothes to wear to work.”
These clothes, she said, are donated to the organization in a variety of ways including individual donations, clothing drives and manufacturers. Bottomless Closet also hosts regular clothing sales selling full outfits for little as $15.