Dress to Impress

New charity shop initiative aims to support more job seekers into the workplace

Leading charity shops across the UK have joined forces with careers app Debut and TV fashion expert Amber Butchart to launch the ‘Dress to Impress for £10’ initiative. This initiative will help improve job prospects for millions of individuals by providing access to interview outfits for only £10 and educate job seekers on correct interview attire.

More than 650 charity shops spanning the UK will each feature a dedicated section of their retail space to the Dress to Impress initiative, and store volunteers will share advice and tips that have been provided by the BBC’s fashion expert, Amber Butchart.

The initiative will give everyone access to interview attire on a budget whilst demystifying what candidates should wear to an interview today, after research undertaken by Debut revealed that 72 per cent of career hopefuls aged 16-23 didn’t know where to start.*

The BBC’s Fashion Expert, Amber Butchart, who has informed the fashion advice for the campaign, comments:

“I’m really excited to be working with Debut and the country’s charity shops on the ‘Dress to Impress for £10’ initiative. It’s supportive, promotes sustainability and gives everyone the same chance to look and feel great during an interview.

“The UK’s charity shops are brimming with hidden gems that are waiting to go from being pre-loved to re-loved and this campaign makes it easier to find them. Thousands of store volunteers have been armed with my interview attire advice and a list of interview staples that they will be showcasing in the dedicated sections of the store, which are signposted to be found easily.”  

Charlie Taylor, Founder and CEO of Debut calls for members of the public to get involved:

“Everyone in the UK can benefit from this campaign – job seekers can pick up a great outfit on a budget and feel interview-ready, whilst everyone else can get involved and donate their own pre-loved interview attire that they no longer need to help a number of fantastic causes.

“The idea for the initiative stemmed from a piece of research we did that revealed that seven in every ten people aged 16-23 are confused about what to wear for an interview. Here at Debut we decided to set the record straight and give every candidate the chance to purchase a fantastic interview outfit on a budget, armed with the information they need to ‘dress to impress’ and land their dream career.”

Robin Osterley, Charity Retail Association Chief Executive, which represents the interests of charity retailers that run more than 8,600 shops, comments on why they got behind the Dress to Impress initiative:

“Charity shops play a vital role in every community, making them a perfect place to help this campaign start conversations about finding work, give people a helping hand to get into employment, or source a fantastic interview outfit for a good price.

 “The Dress to Impress for £10 initiative is extremely relevant today as competition for jobs is increasing, and people are looking for ways to save money during the job application process. Often education around what to wear is also missing – and this campaign helps to overcome that whilst supporting great causes across the UK.”

Fashion historian and author Amber provided insight on how to dress for an interview and the wardrobe staples that can be found in participating charity stores:

Amber’s advice:

  • Research the dress policy of the company you are applying for
  • Don’t be afraid to wear colour, but avoid clashing prints unless you’re interviewing for the arts or creative industries
  • Smart separates can be better than an ill-fitting or poorly-made suit
  • Avoid jeans and T-shirts unless you’re sure the company has a relaxed attitude to dress
  • Avoid open-toed shoes, but white, low-rise sneakers (think Stan Smiths) can add a contemporary element to your professional look
  • The details matter: make sure your socks match and your clothes aren’t creased
  • Avoid garments with too much text, such as slogans or enormous logos
  • A blazer or jacket in a dark colour is a good re-wearable piece for smartening up an outfit

Interview Staples:

  • Smart trousers
  • Knee length skirts
  • Shirts/blouses – not formal dress shirts but smart, can include colour
  • Brogues/loafers
  • Smart flats and heels
  • Blazers and jackets
  • Knitwear – smart sweaters and cardigans

The campaign launches in 650+ charity shops that will each be displaying a window sticker from Wednesday 17th October 2018 and will run for as long as there is demand in-store.

Find out more about the Dress to Impress for £10 campaign.

*Debut asked 1,000 people aged 16-65 about the costs and barriers associated with attending an in-person interview on 5 May 2017.

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