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1775 Eye Street, NW, Suite 1150
Washington, D.C. 20006
United States

We’re a growing network of career development nonprofits that provide business attire for women and men seeking work, empowering them to economic independence.





Filtering by Tag: Career Wardrobe

2017 ACDN National Smart & Sexy Day Highlights


During Women’s History Month, twelve ACDN member nonprofits hosted National Smart & Sexy Day events for over 400 women and helped prepare them for employment. Learn more about 2017 ACDN National Smart & Sexy Day. We invited our hosts to share a short summary and highlights of their celebrations.

Bloom formerly Image for Success - San Rafael, CA

Contributed by Sherene Chen, Bloom Executive Director

Bloom’s 2017 Smart & Sexy Day was a success with 15 eager participants who had a wonderful experience. We started the day off by viewing the inspirational video by Smart & Sexy CEO, Ariela Balk, and proceeded into our bra-fittings session. All of the women were delighted to have a proper fitting done as well as receive a beautiful new bra. We were fortunate to have Carrie Veurink, ACDN Managing Partner, join us. 

Bloom hosted two wonderful speakers, Lisa Safran of Improv Consultants and Jenny Bailey of Your Vivid Style. Lisa gave an interactive and exciting improve style workshop on interview skills. Lisa also shared with the attendees her story of when she was a client of Bloom and what it means to be able to give back today. Lisa was inspiring for the women as she explained how she went from needing the clothing and assistance from Bloom to running her own successful business today. Jenny Bailey helped with wardrobe styling and interview appropriate clothing. She was able to answer many important questions the audience had about preparing their clothing and appearance for interviews. Sara Ladd of The Beauty Counter followed up Jenny’s presentation with a brief demonstration on work appropriate makeup. 

The women broke for lunch between the speakers and were able to get to know one another, shop in Bloom’s boutique and share stories with staff. It was a fun group of participants who were eager to excel in their pursuits to find meaningful employment. Lisa Safra of Improv Consultants had provided a gift certificate for her executive coaching services and we had a fun drawing for the gift. The day ended with a brief survey. One of the participants was so moved by Lisa’s story she showed me that her goal on the survey was to be as successful as Lisa Safran. It was overall a meaningful experience for all participants.

Bottomless Closet - New York, NY

Contributed by Gineyda Diaz, Bottomless Closet Operations Director and ACDN Board Member

Bottomless Closet is proud to have hosted our sixth Annual Smart & Sexy Day on March 23, 2017. Thanks to the generous donation of space from our partners at Wells Fargo, we were able to host 100 clients this year! This is the second year that Wells Fargo donated their event space for Smart & Sexy Day and once again, their staff, led by Kia Manlove and Carla Davis, were on hand to present “The Business of Etiquette”. This entertaining yet informative workshop walked clients through interview and on the-job tips. Anisha Mukherjee from Dress for the Day presented a workshop on how to dress for interviews on a budget. In addition, Roberta Dougherty, a longtime volunteer and Smart & Sexy Day regular, presented her “Strictly Business or Business Casual” workshop, guiding clients on the real definition of ‘business casual’. 

Since the Smart & Sexy headquarters are in New York, Bottomless Closet has the pleasure of sharing the day’s events with Smart & Sexy staff. Brady Halbert and others Smart & Sexy staff were on hand to help with the bra fittings. Brady and team also helped us choose our 2017 #SupportMeans contest winner, Norma, who wrote, “Support to me is when I am experiencing tough times, I look for people or company who [are] willing to listen to me and give me support [like] Bottomless Closet and Henry Street Settlement.” Henry Street Settlement is one of 125 referral organizations that refer clients to Bottomless Closet.

Thank you, as always, to the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits and Smart & Sexy for their generous grant. This grant ensures that so many women across the country receive the adequate support they need to enter the workforce.

Career Wardrobe (Philadelphia, PA)

Contributed by Caitlin Garozzo, Career Wardrobe Program Director

Career Wardrobe hosted Smart & Sexy Day on March 27, 2017 for 17 eager and excited women. Our event included a presentation by Karima Renee, the Philly Bra Lady, who shared with our attendees her own story of coming to realize the importance of a great fitting bra. Karima explained the different types of bras available and when (and for whom!) these bras are appropriate. The Philly Bra Lady then served as our expert bra fitter and provided each attendee with one on one attention and a whole lot of love. You could overhear “WOW!” and “I look amazing!” coming from the fitting rooms but my all-time favorite quote of the day was from one of our bustier attendees. Upon seeing herself in her true size bra, she shouted “Oh sweetness! Where did they go?! I can wear my cute shirt without scaring the children!” The power of a great bra is undeniable.  

After lunch, Career Wardrobe welcomed John Wind and Robbin Cook of John Wind Maximal Art. This dynamic duo have been in business together since the 80s and have created custom and costume jewelry featured on high fashion run ways, in magazine spreads such as Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as a series of accessories deemed one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. John and Robbin shared how to accessorize your work outfits with simple and easy to find pieces and gifted all of our participants with earrings and bracelets.  

Smart & Sexy Day was another wild success and Career Wardrobe is so grateful to ACDN and Smart & Sexy for the opportunity to host this great event!

Desert Best Friend’s Closet – Palm Desert, CA

Contributed by Connie Golds, DBFC Executive Director and ACDN Board Vice President 

Desert Best Friend’s Closet (DBFC) hosted it’s third Smart & Sexy Day on Friday, March 24, 2017. Women from six different agencies were invited to attend: ABC Recovery Center, Riverside County Department of Probation, California Department of Rehabilitation, College of the Desert’s Veteran Center and The Center for LGBTQ.

Dr. Darlene Ponder founder of Kingdom Generation International, which has the goal to change the world, socially, economically and spiritually, was our kickoff speaker. Debra Tryon, a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley, encouraged the women to stay on the path they develop together, to create the life they want for themselves and their family. Next Katherine Melbourne founder of the Summit School of Protocol, taught the proper way to make an introduction, emphasizing business introductions. Matthew Campos of Desert Best Friend’s Closet focused on developing a successful job search strategy and what one would look like.

Over a third of the woman admitted that they had never been fitted for a bra before. They LOVED the way the bras fit and looked. Comments included that they “look expensive,” “sexy,” and felt “comfortable” were common.

Jackets for Jobs, Inc. – Detroit, MI

Contributed by Alison Vaughn, Founder/Executive Director

Jackets for Jobs Smart & Sexy day was action-packed and filled of laughter and love. 25 women entered a room full pink and white decor with Smart & Sexy lingerie featured throughout the room. Jackets for Jobs staff of 7 people, six women and one male greeted the ladies with pastries and juice and opened the program with an ice-breaker game.

Fox2 News covered our story. I did two radio interviews 105.9FM and 910AM promoting Smart & Sexy Day. We hosted several wonderful speakers; Terri King, make-up artist spoke about the 5 minute face, Sharon Seaward spoke about A clean closet= A clean Life, Jennine Spencer, owner of Elegant Images beauty Salon talked about hair care and Alison Vaughn, founder of Jackets for Jobs spoke about goal setting from her book, Ms. Goal Digger, Success is Sexy!

Lunch was provided by Paneras Bakery and everyone received a free bra and gift bag. Everyone walked away feeling empowered and more self-confident. The icing on the cake was a proclamation from Mayor Mike Duggan, proclaiming March 15, 2017 Smart & Sexy Day in Detroit, MI.

Career Closet (JLEP) – Cranford, NJ

Contributed by Valerie Camera, Career Closet Co-Chair

On March 22, 2017, the Junior League of Elizabeth Plainfield’s Career Closet and the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits (ACDN) hosted a celebratory event from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm at the Jumble Store located at 110 Walnut Avenue in Cranford honoring Women’s History Month. Career Closet volunteers assisted twenty-two women from nPower, Easterseals and the Urban League of Union County with selecting business attire. They also received a professional bra fitting and new Smart & Sexy bra, and training on building a resume, interviewing skills and building a professional wardrobe on a budget by Heidi Martindill and Nydia Diefenbach. Over lunch they heard from a panel of professional women (Panelists: Vanessa Parisi, Kalshelia Lloyd, Kristen Barletta and Valerie Camara and Moderator: Heidi Martindill) as they discussed their careers and provided the audience with helpful tips for navigating their career paths. The ladies also received a new tote, scarf and necklace along with the clothing. The event was made possible by a grant from ACDN and Smart & Sexy and volunteers from the Junior League of Elizabeth Plainfield. The Junior League of Elizabeth Plainfield also received a resolution from the New Jersey State Senator Kean, Assemblyman Bramnickand Assemblywoman Munoz for the 21st District of New Jersey proclaiming March 22, 2017 Women’s Empowerment Day. The resolution also recognized the great work the Junior League has done serving the community, as well as acknowledging the fifteen years that Career Closet has been serving low income women in the community with free career dressing services.

Ladies of Valor Empowerment (L.O.V.E.) – North Miami, FL

Contributed by Alourdes Pierre, LOVE Executive Director

The Ladies of Valor Empowerment was a huge success:  There was a guest panel of 3 women trailblazers, Dr. Malou C, Harrison, President Miami Dade College, North Campus; Attorney Patricia S. Joseph from PSJ Law Group, First Lady, City of North Miami; Former Director Miami Dade Corrections Department, Marydell Guevarra, First Hispanic Female Director of a Major Public Safety in Miami Dade County. There 45 attendees to include 45 women and teenage girls the YOVES. In attendance also was the Dr. Joseph Smith, Mayor of the City of North Miami, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, Jean Monestime.

“Thank you for brining Smart & Sexy Day to the community. For women by women, today is a new day in my life, a day of hope, encouragement and support, I am blessed.”

Suited for Success – Oklahoma City, OK

Contributed by Susan Walton, Suited for Success Executive Director

March 23rd was Smart & Sexy Day in Oklahoma City.  As part of the celebration, Suited for Success provided a day of workforce training, professional image classes and individual support for women with the goal of enabling them to take action, secure employment and enhance the quality of their lives. The event’s keynote speaker was Joleen Chaney from NewsChannel Four. Our training modules included: Do’s and Don’ts of Interviewing, Positive Body Language Tips for Personal and Professional Success, and Building a Wardrobe on a Budget.  The highlight of the day for the participants was receiving their beautiful Smart & Sexy bra.  We are grateful to ACDN and Smart & Sexy for allowing us the opportunity to participate in our fifth annual Smart & Sexy Day. It’s one of the best days of the year.

Tailored for Success – Malden, MA

Contributed by Elizabeth Hart, Tailored for Success Executive Director

The 2nd Annual Smart, Tailored & Ready/Smart & Sexy Day was held at the Malden YMCA and attended by 25 women.  A lively discussion on the dos and don’ts of interviewing was led by a representative of People’s United Bank.  Also, as always the highest score in evaluations came from the segment on Credit from Bank of America.  The women who participated were thrilled to hear from the founder of Smart & Sexy bras through the recorded video she made.  Participants were treated to breakfast, lunch and given swag bags and Smart & Sexy Bras. 

WHW – Santa Ana, CA

WHW’s ‘Smart & Sophisticated’ program sponsored by Smart & Sexy brought together twenty women from various local nonprofit organizations that were struggling to regain their confidence and self-esteem and conjoined them with female professionals from all parts of Southern California who are part of Pepsi Co’s Women In Leadership Network to ignite an empowering, life-transforming program. Premiere Image Consultant, Lauren Solomon, kicked-off the program with an introspective and interactive workshop on how to move toward a place of self-acceptance and provided a roadmap on how to present a professional image for their future. This set the stage for the women to be matched with a Pepsi Co. executive to serve as a guide to help them pick-out suits and business attire to be interview-ready.

The Pepsi Co. volunteers served as mentors to encourage, educate and equip the women in attendance with the insight and understanding of how to make a dynamic first impression. Looking in the mirror to see an industrious, independent and innovative woman in the reflection, each client saw themselves through a completely different lens then when they first walked through WHW’s doors. The program culminated with a mock interview roundtable where the ladies in leadership from Pepsi Co. served as prospective employers and interviewed the women in a speed-dating style scenario. This provided the women with constructive feedback on how to improve their responses and overall presentation to successfully seek and secure employment. WHW is proud to say that each woman who attended left feeling smart and sophisticated and the Pepsi Co. professionals were inspired by the difference they could make for each of the ladies they worked with in just one day.

YWCA Allentown/The Perfect Fit: Smart & Sexy Day

Contributed by Sarah Barrett, YWCA Executive Director

18 women joined the YWCA Allentown’s Perfect Fit for Working Women program at Transcend Salon in Allentown to celebrate Smart & Sexy Day on May 27, 2017.

Participants were greeted by a representative from Mayor Pawlowski’s office proclaiming March 27, 2017 as Smart & Sexy Day in Allentown before attending workshops exploring networking as a critical skill for career success, and discussing how to build a fabulous professional wardrobe on a budget.

Hair and makeup were perfected by the talented staff of Transcend Salon as our participants posed for professional head shots to be used on their LinkedIn profiles and resumes!

During their keynote presentation, the Wisdom Coalition’s Nancy Werteen and Kim Howie inspired women to find and choose joy in their lives and reflected on the power of positivity and its connection to self confidence, motivation, and reclaiming control of our lives.

We wrapped up the day by publicly declaring what #SupportMeans to each of us, then writing our declarations and posting them to the wall as a visual reminder that our community of collaboration and encouragement exists to help empower us to become our best selves.

Transforming Lives and Restoring Hope – Roanoke Rapids, NC

Contributed by Stephanie Credle, TLRH Executive Director

On March 18, 2017, Transforming Lives & Restoring Hope, Inc. hosted Smart & Sexy Day 2017: Women’s Empowerment Day. 25 women attended this event. This was our second opportunity to host this event in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, a small town that has been significantly impacted by unemployment and poverty. Formerly a textile town, featured in the movie Norma Rae, Roanoke Rapids is challenged by the lack of industry sufficient raise the median household income. Mayor Emery G. Doughtie proclaimed March 18, 2017 as Smart & Sexy Day. Senator Smith-Ingram praised TLRH on this year’s event, stating, “congratulations to you in advancing your service to underserved women in the Roanoke Valley communities. TLRH serves as a shining example for other non-profits in promoting community building through investing in human capacity. Your calling is noble; your service is needed; your work is making a difference in the lives of so many.”

The women thoroughly enjoyed the event. One attendee remarked, I am blown away! What a “Superb” event! BRAVO!!! Words cannot express the awesome experiences I had. It was truly a phenomenal day at the Spa ... hosted by Transforming Lives & Restoring Home / Lilly’s Boutique. (exceptional program at -no- charge!) The information presented today was phenomenal... truly high quality Speakers! Special thanks to Kelly Barber, Tammy Crowley Deloatch, Joyce Strong-Hurt, Ella House, Christine Carmichael, and Sue Wage for professional music, food, gifts, spa treatments and powerful presentations all day. Today was EPIC!”

EPIC was our goal! We designed Smart & Sexy 2017 to be unique and motivational for all, especially Millennials! Joyce Strong Hurt delivered her training in a unique way, using the voice that won Amateur Night at the Apollo when she was 18 to encourage women to never give up on their dreams. Her husband, Grammy award winning producer, Norman Hurt, highlighted the current challenges to empowerment in the media to highlight the barriers women face with gender bias. Ms. Christine Carmichael conducted a powerful Etiquette workshop that so resonated with the ladies that they were sharing the principles of the handshake and power presence days after the event ended. Speaker Tammy Crowley Deloatch provided insight about her success as a women-owned business, while candidly shared her challenges. Tears flowed as she inspired women to stay the course and trust in God to guide. Dr. Stephanie Credle, founder of TLRH, asked the question, “If Your Wardrobe Could Speak, What Would It Say? Even the local newspaper reporter nodded when she asked, “Is there anything in your closet that doesn’t reflect the YOU you want to be? Ms. Ella House hit a home run with a “comfort zone breaking” presentation that challenged women to put their dreams to the test.

Finally, TLRH set the environment for the women. The Renaissance Spa was the perfect backdrop for a day of education and edification. From the Mary Kay, Satin Hands exfoliating station to the chair massages provided by Sue Wage, Renaissance Spa, Massage Therapist – women were treated to a day of resilience- building activities. The icing on the day was the bra fittings and Smart & Sexy lingerie. We laughed each time a woman underestimated their bra size! We applauded each time she walked out beaming at the difference the right bra makes! They didn’t want the day to end!

They marveled that an event of this caliber was hosted in Roanoke Rapids. And they left feeling valued – smart and sexy!

The Power of a Pantsuit: You Can Still Use It To Fight For Women

Sheri K. Cole, Career Wardrobe Executive Director


Guest Post by Sheri K. Cole, Career Wardrobe Executive Director

Were you one of the millions of women and men who pulled a pantsuit out of your closet last Tuesday to go vote? Perhaps you went to a resale store like The Wardrobe Boutique to buy a white suit to commemorate the suffrage movement while you cast your ballot for the first woman to be President. Even if you supported another candidate, did you smile as you stood in line with your neighbors dressed up for the occasion?

Do you remember how you felt walking into the polling place in your pantsuit?

Did you hold your head a little higher?

Did you speak a little clearer when asked your name by the poll worker?

Did you feel just a little bit better while going about your day?

You might be one of the few who still puts on a suit and tie or heels to go to work every day, or you might be someone who forgot that suit was hanging in the back of your closet. Surveys show that the majority of professionals are no longer required to wear a suit to work. 

Still, you can’t deny the power of a pantsuit.

As Executive Director of Career Wardrobe, a nonprofit organization that has been providing professional suits to women transitioning to work for 21 years, I followed the #pantsuit social media feed with a great interest because at Career Wardrobe, we understand the power of the pantsuit… we see it every day. 

It won’t change your skillset or your background, but the pantsuit we give to a job seeker at Career Wardrobe is a great equalizer. 

The pantsuit makes her feel more confident in her ability to ace a job interview. And it helps him forget about his background for a moment and believe that he deserves a supervisor position.

The pantsuit has power.

If you felt that power the last time you put on your professional suit, please consider how you can give back to organizations like Career Wardrobe who are working to empower unemployed people in our communities every day. 

Your donation of a suit doesn’t just outfit a person looking for work… it EMPOWERS them to hold their head higher, speak clearer, and see a future of independence.

Don’t have a suit to give or want to give more than a suit? There are so many ways to give back and do something powerful!

Shop! Every sale at The Wardrobe Boutique resale store supports Career Wardrobe’s programs.

Volunteer! Have a few hours a week to give back? Bring your friends, colleagues or children with you to sort clothing donations at one of our monthly drives in Fairmount, East Falls or the Mainline. Sign up to volunteer!

Donate Money! Organizations like Career Wardrobe don’t run on clothing alone. Donate $50 or more this holiday season in honor or memory of someone in your life. 

Learn more about our work and how you can support people in your community at www.CareerWardrobe.orgNot local to Philadelphia? Find a group like Career Wardrobe in your community at  Click here to see a complete listing of ACDN Members.


Gineyda Diaz, Operations Director, Bottomless Closet (New York, NY) & ACDN Board Member

Myrna, a client at Bottomless Closet NYC cuts up her credit cards after clearing all her debts.

Myrna, a client at Bottomless Closet NYC cuts up her credit cards after clearing all her debts.


The Importance of Financial Independence

This July as America celebrates its freedom and independence, we celebrate our members' efforts to ensure that job seekers are equipped with the right tools in their journey toward financial freedom. The Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits (ACDN) fosters the creation and growth of community-based organizations that assist individuals to secure and maintain employment. Our members recognize that for their clients, getting the job is the first hurdle. Keeping the job, becoming debt free and ultimately saving for retirement is as important. Member agencies like WHW (Women Helping Women/Men2Work) in California, Career Wardrobe in Philadelphia, Bottomless Closet in New York, among many, all host workshops and events and leverage corporate partnerships to ensure that all clients are financially literate. Financial literacy is another key to breaking the cycle of poverty most of Americans face.

Not an Easy Process

Matthew Frankel of The Motley Fool said that "according to the Federal Reserve nearly half of Americans couldn't cover a $400 emergency expense without borrowing or selling something. More than half have less than one month's worth of income...” Financial literacy classes teach people to make smart financial decisions. Our clients learn to create budgets and to begin saving for emergencies and retirement. This is not by any means an easy process, but stated that "financial literacy...can lead the way to a global economy that is competitive and strong." We applaud our members’ efforts to ensure that their clients are empowered to make these important financial decisions once a steady paycheck comes in.

Bottomless Closet's Financial Management Series teaches basic money management skills as well as retirement planning, paying for school and most importantly understanding credit/FICO scores. Clients are reimbursed for credit report expenses and then sit with industry professionals to understand their scores and create actionable goals to decrease debt and communicate with creditors. The confidence this gives clients is staggering, they leave the workshops feeling energized and unafraid to work through what for some amounts to very large amounts of debt.

NerdWallet says that "The average U.S. household with debt carries $15,762 in credit card debt and $130,922 in total debt.” At Bottomless Closet clients encourage each other, cheering each other on as they cut up credit cards that are paid off. Many clients are well on their way toward financial freedom. Some have already cleared thousands of dollars in debt. One client, Ala, said she "grew up in a different country, a different culture... [and she] did not understand the relationship between credit cards and credit scores..." With the help of Bottomless Closet's Financial Management Series, Ala became debt free and later purchased her own home. Another client, Annie, was able to save enough money to go from living in a shelter to a one-bedroom apartment. Watch Annie’s story here

The University of Minnesota urges employers to invest in financial education for employees as well. In the same vein, ACDN members leverage corporate and nonprofit partners to reach their community. WHW is making their services (including their financial literacy workshops) available to their surrounding communities via their WOW (Workshops on Wheels) program. WHW believes that the financial literacy workshops enable those in transition to employment to "assess their current financial situation and identity ways to increase income and decrease and prioritize expenses." They connect with local job developers and nonprofits to travel to their locations to teach their workshops. Read more about their efforts here. 

Career Wardrobe works with Clarifi, a non-profit community resource devoted to Lifelong Financial Literacy to equip Career Wardrobe’s clients with the necessary skills like “how to handle their money in the best possible way, how to avoid finance charges and other money sucks, and go over basic budgeting techniques. Clarifi also offers clients a workshop on the psychology of spending and gives clients a free one-on-one financial planning session. This level of community involvement will in fact ensure that all of our members have the resources to support job seekers as they transition to work. Learn more at    

These workshops help knock hurdles, previously thought as insurmountable, out of the way with adequate training and support. This July join us in celebrating our members and their efforts to ensure that all their clients experience the freedom from financial burdens and achieve self-sufficiency.

In 1999, five nonprofit Executive Directors across the United States decided to leverage their collective knowledge and experience to create The Women’s Alliance (TWA) and provide a greater impact and support for small, independent nonprofits providing work clothes and interview clothes to women seeking economic independence and leaving welfare. In hopes of broadening the work begun 15 years ago, in 2014 TWA became the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits (ACDN) to include career development organizations that serve men and teens. Today ACDN supports over 23 nonprofits around the country with combined budgets of over $5,000,000.  Learn more.


Contributed by Gineyda Diaz, Bottomless Closet Operations Director and ACDN Board Member