Dressing Up

We have too much stuff. Let’s just discuss clothing for a minute. Hubby has a jacket for each degree of temperature outside, above and below zero. I’ve never seen so many jackets outside of a retail store. With me, it’s shoes and boots, although I’ve followed a rule for several years now – when one pair comes in, one goes out. The collection hasn’t grown but it’s not getting any smaller, either.

illustration: two men shaking hands and the caption: give me a job!
Illustration by Sean MacEntee

I’m always accumulating boxes of things to donate but some stuff is too good to lump in with the masses of clothing packed onto charity store racks. A Spanner dress, for example, that I’m tired of but looks as good as it did the day it sat, overpriced, on the rack of a boutique on Richmond Row. (I waited patiently for a sale!) It’s a few seasons off, so the better consignment stores won’t take it, but it’s a classic, belted shift that’s perfect for work. What does one do with a garment that’s in limbo?

In London, Goodwill has a special category for these types of outfits: ClothingWorks. (Note that London’s Goodwills are thriving and separate from the Toronto, Eastern and Central Ontario branches that shut down and filed for bankruptcy.) They collect better-than-average suits, dresses and coats for people who need a hand up, and something to wear to a job interview. Many cities have similar ventures, with stand-alone charities. They cater to someone who’s getting back into the workforce after a long absence to raise children, or perhaps dealing with an injury or illness.They’ll help a job-seeker get their resume up to date, get a haircut, help with the job search and prep them for interviews. In London, 43 agencies refer people to ClothingWorks and they’ve helped hundreds of men and women find employment. I visited them over the holidays after convincing Derek to give up some dress pants and a couple of shirts he no longer wears, to go along with my dresses and blouses…and shoes. Yes, I gave up two pair. I’m trying to lead by example.

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