Career Wardrobe was started by a group of Philadelphia-area women looking to make a positive difference in the lives of women entering the workplace in the community. Since 1995, Career Wardrobe has grown from a grassroots organization run solely by volunteers into the nation’s largest community-based organization dedicated to assisting women in successfully transitioning to work by providing professional attire and career skills training.

Career Wardrobe milestones and timeline

1995
Working Wardrobe opens its doors to pass on donated suits to women just starting their journeys in the workforce. In the first year, volunteers provide 938 women with business suits for job interviews or employment.

1997
Working Wardrobe is a co-founder of The Women’s Alliance, a national network of sister organizations created to share best practices.

1998
A satellite office opens in West Chester. In a 6-year span, the West Chester site provides clothing to 3,300 women transitioning to work in Chester and Delaware Counties.

2000
Working Wardrobe hires its first Executive Director, Sheri K. Cole. She is named one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, for the organization’s impact on the lives of women in Philadelphia.

2002
The inaugural A Perfect Fit fashion show and auction event is held at Saks Fifth Avenue; the organization’s name change to Career Wardrobe is also announced there. 150 supporters attend the fashion show, which brings together anchorwomen from all Philadelphia media outlets to empower women to succeed.

2003
The Gateway to Success personal and professional education seminars launch, to help women maintain employment by focusing on job search, communication, and financial literacy skills.

2004
The 30,000th client is helped by Career Wardrobe.

2005
Career Wardrobe celebrates its 10th anniversary with the Story of a Suit exhibit, honoring 10 women who exemplify Career Wardrobe’s mission to empower women.

2006
Viv Pickle Custom Handbags constructs the World’s Largest Handbag at 30th Street Station to celebrate the organization’s 10th anniversary and collect accessories to support women transitioning to work.

2007
The Professional Women’s Network is created to provide an additional support system for women during the job search and employment. A job search skills component is added to the Gateway to Success education seminars, to provide one-on-one resume review and job search consultation.

2008
The 50,000th client is served, and Career Wardrobe is named Champion in Action by Citizens Bank for its outstanding contribution to workforce development for women in the Philadelphia region.

The PA WORKWEAR partnership with PA Department of Public Welfare begins, granting Career Wardrobe access to women receiving all types of assistance (from food stamps to cash assistance). In addition to professional clothing for interviews and work, Career Wardrobe begins providing training attire and uniforms.

2009
The Wardrobe Boutique resale store at 19th St. and Spring Garden St. is opened to provide all women access to quality clothing at affordable prices, while also helping Career Wardrobe to achieve self-sufficiency.

2010
Generation Stiletto is created to nurture the next generation of volunteers and leaders for Career Wardrobe.

2011

Career Wardrobe celebrates its Sweet 16 with a Tea Party at The Rittenhouse Hotel. The 70,000th client is served.

The Style Me Hired Makeover Show provides 100 women with makeovers, professional attire, and job search training in one day.

2012
Story of a Suit: Portraits of Progress tells the stories of 6 women who have been helped by Career Wardrobe and, in turn, use their new skills and economic independence to improve their lives, provide for their families, and have a positive impact in their communities.