Ali Stofflet, marketing manager for Truly BoHotique, remembers last year’s Dress for Success event: a young woman studying at the Colorado School of Mines walked into the clothing store, nearly in …
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Ali Stofflet, marketing manager for Truly BoHotique, remembers last year’s Dress for Success event: a young woman studying at the Colorado School of Mines walked into the clothing store, nearly in tears, Stofflet said.
“I know nothing about fashion,” the Mines student told Stofflet, she said.
Stofflet reply to the student was, “I know nothing about math. So we’re a perfect fit,” she said.
Now in its second year, Dress for Success is put on in partnership by Truly BoHotique, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Women of Mines Interest Group. What it does is provide two gently-used professional outfits, for free, to women studying at Mines. One outfit is for the women to wear to the campus’ upcoming Career Day, and the other is to wear on their first job interview.
“These are women in STEM,” said Nadine Wilson, co-owner and co-founder of Truly BoHotique. “They are already a minority in their fields. We want to give them every opportunity to excel and bridge the gender gap.”
Dress for Success got its start last year after Wilson was approached by representatives of SWE and Women of Mines who told her that female students at Mines get job interviews at a rate far less than male students. As the conversation continued, Wilson learned that one reason for that is because the women students are less likely to go to the campus’ Career Day because they don’t have anything to wear. Or, if they do go, they are often not dressed appropriately.
“We thought: we can help with this,” Wilson said.
Truly BoHotique is a women’s apparel and accessories store in downtown Golden. All of the clothing provided to the Mines students was donated by Truly BoHotique’s customers and Golden community members, women involved with the Golden Women in Business (GWiB) group and Mines alumni — some in Colorado and others who shipped a box of clothing from out-of-state.
The shop started accepting the gently-used business attire in July, and received an “incredible outpouring of donations this year,” Wilson said. All clothing left over from the event will go to a local women’s shelter, Wilson said.
“Men’s outfits are straightforward,” said Charisma Bartlett, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering. “Women have a lot of options for what to wear, but a lot of us don’t know would be considered professional.”
For example, Bartlett added, women can wear skirts and dresses, but it’s important to know what the appropriate length would be for a job interview. And, women can wear jewelry, but must know how much jewelry is too much for a professional setting, Bartlett said.
“It’s important for them to be selective with their clothing for Career Day because often, first impressions last,” said Kelly Knechtel, Mines’ faculty adviser for SWE. “They need appropriate attire for their industry so that their appearance doesn’t overshadow the skills and intelligence they bring to the table.”
Mines students attending the event on Sept. 5 agreed.
“It’s good to be able to get advice from other women on how to look professional,” said Breanna Moak, a junior studying environmental engineering.
Her friend Shona Hansen, a senior studying mechanical engineering, added that college students have a limited budget, and an event like Dress for Success helps because business attire is generally quite expensive.
“This event gives them an opportunity to put their best foot forward as they launch their careers,” Wilson said. “Our hope is that years down the road, when they’re settled in their careers, they’ll remember today and want to help the next generation of women pursuing STEM professions.”
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