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Jessica’s Story

An Outfit, A Future

I walked into Dress for Success Vancouver on a beautiful March day, the sky a bright blue. On my way up to the office, I felt nervous, as if it was my first day at school. I remember hoping that they’d have something in my size. As a plus-size woman, I was concerned; I wanted something flattering, and I wanted to feel like myself. Most of all, I wanted to be able to leave feeling beautiful.

I didn’t need to worry. As soon as I came in, I was dazzled. I looked around the office at the racks of clothing; chic dresses in classic black and bright patterns, sleek, polished blazers and jackets, and shoes ranging from neutrals to electrifying pops of colour. Not only that, there was jewelry, scarves, purses and coats. Best of all, there were a variety of lovely pieces in my size. Despite my anxiety, I started to feel a sense of adventure. I’d always been interested in clothes, often as a wilder expression of myself, something that accentuated my dyed hair and tattoos. 

Looking at all of these options, I began to think that dressing up for work could be fun. What could I do with a jacket and blouse? How could they make me feel more professional and confident? I wasn’t used to thinking this way and was developing a new way of seeing myself. Then, my two stylists arrived and a process that felt just a little bit like magic began.

I couldn’t help but imagine the women I met as fairy godmothers, ready to help me shine bright at the job fair. I was guided through the racks and all of their possibilities. When asked what I liked, I laughed and said, “Leopard print.”  When I smiled, I noticed they were smiling along with me.

After asking me more about my tastes, the stylists found me a few pieces. I went into a dressing room and started to try on some of the options.  I discovered a black fitted skirt and a blue and grey blouse and rushed to try them on. As I fiddled with the buttons and zippers, I stole a few little glances at myself in the mirror and found myself liking what I saw. Who could this be? I slipped on a black jacket and began to watch as my future self came together.

The stylist brought me a pair of electric blue loafers with gold trim. The shoes were so vivid I could hardly pause long enough to get them on my feet. “Wait.” she said, smiling brightly. “I think you need some jewelry.” She went over to one of the drawers and pulled out a white string of pearls and a pair of delicate, pale pearl studs for my ears. 

The stylist took me over to a full-length mirror. “There.” She spoke. “Don’t you look lovely!” To my delight, I felt lovely too, looking polished in my black blazer and skirt, the azure shoes picking up the blue in the blouse, bright as the morning sky. I could see something I had hoped to see; myself, happy in a professional outfit, ready to face anything. The stylist even added a leopard print scarf for my new coat.

I left feeling like I had infinite possibilities ahead of me. I feel this every time I put on my outfit. Every piece reminds me that someone out there believes in me, but most of all, I believe in myself. I didn’t just walk out with a bag of clothes. 

I walked out with a future.

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I could see something I had hoped to see; myself, happy in a professional outfit, ready to face anything.