Explore the History of Career Wardrobe
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
Career Wardrobe expanded to serve people throughout the region, opening boutique in Bucks and Delaware Counties. We also became the sole provider of PA WORKWEAR programs to provide professional clothing to people on public assistance in the region by providing over site of partners serving Chester, Berks, and Montgomery Counties.
Career Wardrobe celebrated Opening Doors for 20 Years, our 20th anniversary. We also piloted Make It Work for Men, a program which helps men in transition with dress shirts, ties and belts.
In September, Career Wardrobe co-located with The Wardrobe Boutique, giving the organization increased capacity to open its programs to men and underemployed women, providing greater access to services they need to transition to sustainable employment.
A new strategic plan was adopted that scaled our programs to serve more unemployed individuals in Philadelphia. We also started our Professional Development Certificate, a series of informative and interactive professional and personal development seminars culminating with our first Client Graduation class in November.
Wardrobe Careers is introduced to assist Career Wardrobe interns with a structured work experience. Career Wardrobe hosted our first Work It! event a day dedicated to creating a professional identity online and in person.
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.
Career Wardrobe celebrated its Sweet 16 with a Tea Party at The Rittenhouse Hotel. The 70,000th client was served.
The Style Me Hired Makeover Show provided 100 women with makeovers, professional attire, and job search training in one day.
Generation Stiletto is created to nurture the next generation of volunteers and leaders for Career Wardrobe.
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.
The 50,000th client was served, and Career Wardrobe was 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 began, 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 began providing training attire and uniforms.
The Professional Women’s Network was created to provide an additional support system for women during the job search and employment. A job search skills component was added to the Gateway to Success education seminars, to provide one-on-one resume review and job search consultation.
Viv Pickle Custom Handbags constructed 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.
Career Wardrobe celebrated its 10th anniversary with the Story of a Suit exhibit, honoring 10 women who exemplify Career Wardrobe’s mission to empower women.
The 30,000th client was helped by Career Wardrobe.
The Gateway to Success personal and professional education seminars is launched, to help women maintain employment by focusing on job search, communication, and financial literacy skills.
The inaugural A Perfect Fit fashion show and auction event was held at Saks Fifth Avenue; the organization’s name change to Career Wardrobe is also announced. 150 supporters attended the fashion show, which brought together anchorwomen from all Philadelphia media outlets to empower women to succeed.
Working Wardrobe hired its first Executive Director, Sheri K. Cole. She was named one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, for the organization’s impact on the lives of women in Philadelphia.
A satellite office opened in West Chester. In a 6-year span, the West Chester site provided clothing to 3,300 women transitioning to work in Chester and Delaware Counties.
Working Wardrobe was a co-founder of The Women’s Alliance, a national network of sister organizations created to share best practices. The organization changed its name to the Alliance of Career Development in 2014.
Working Wardrobe opened its doors to pass on donated suits to women just starting their journeys in the workforce. In the first year, volunteers provided 938 women with business suits for job interviews or employment.