Story, photos, and video by Lawson Martin. Photos also provided by Attitudes and Attire.
Lyn Berman founded Attitudes and Attire in 1996 as a way to build the self-esteem of women entering the workforce by providing them with professional interview attire. Attitudes and Attire inspires women by promoting personal growth, self-sufficiency, and confidence through specialized programs that enhance self-esteem, ethics, and essential life skills, filling a vital gap in traditional workplace training.
In its first year of operation, Attitudes and Attire served 26 women, and since then, the nonprofit has served more than 27,000 women. The nonprofit’s clients are typically single mothers with little personal or financial support. The clients are also often victims of abuse, generational poverty, and addiction.
Many of the women the nonprofit serves have already completed some type of job training but are in the process of searching for a job to support their families. Attitudes and Attire steps in and provides them with the resources they need to ensure their ultimate success.
The nonprofit offers four programs providing women with practical guidelines to lead to triumph: Core Program, Hopeful Smiles, Boots to Heels, and a Spanish-speaking program.
The Core Program focuses on job readiness and self-esteem. The program consists of three workshops tailored for women to acknowledge their intrinsic value, create a positive self-image, and refine their job search abilities.
Attitudes and Attire partners with more than 300 social service agencies, organizations, and schools throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth community who refer clients to them. Many of the agencies Attitudes and Attire work with include Austin Street Center, Genesis Women’s Shelter, Texas Workforce Commission, and the Salvation Army.
“The Core Program emphasizes that every woman is worthy, no matter what mistakes they have made or trauma they may have experienced,” Attitudes and Attires says.
During the workshops, women learn more about communication skills, interviewing techniques, healthy relationships, boundary setting, self-care, goal-setting, positive self-talk, and financial fitness.
When you look around Attitude and Attire’s exquisite boutique, you’ll find a room filled with racks of dress pants, dress skirts, blazers, blouses, jewelry, and other accessories. There’s no short supply of professional outfits that will boost every woman’s confidence.
When the women complete the first workshop, they are invited to choose workplace-appropriate attire from the boutique, including a suit, blouse, jewelry, and scarf. After completing the second workshop, they’re invited to select a handbag and shoes. At the end of their third workshop, the women can select up to five pieces of the boutique’s more casual clothing.
The boutique is generously stocked by donations from the community.
“We are so fortunate to have such a generous community,” says Annabelle Baxter, development director of Attitudes and Attire. “Every piece of clothing you see in our boutique is donated from the community, and people drop off clothes daily. So we’re never at a loss for clothing, which is great.”
There’s not only a wide range of items but also a wide range of sizes. The boutique offers sizes 0 to 8X plus.
“We really have something for everyone,” Annabelle says. “A lot of times, we’ll get women who will say, ‘You won’t have anything to fit me.’ Well, our boutique manager is amazing, and she’s going to find something that fits the woman and makes her feel good.”
Another program the nonprofit offers is Hopeful Smiles which came about in 2006. Attitudes and Attires partners with local dentists to help restore women’s teeth and gums that have been damaged by substance abuse, poverty, and neglect. The services are at a minimal cost to the women. The nonprofit has around 50 dentists and 25 specialists who donate their chair time and services.
Attitudes and Attire leaders feel the Hopeful Smiles program is fundamental to raising self-esteem and preparing women to succeed in the workforce. The program has improved the smiles of hundreds of local women. However, the program still has an extensive waiting list of women waiting for treatment, so organizers are asking the public to assist them in finding and referring dentists willing to donate their services to women in need.
The nonprofit’s third program, Boots to Heels, helps women in the military community to transition from the military to civilian life by preparing them for the workforce.
“Boots to Heels is basically our Core Program, but we found that these women have gone through their own set of battles, on and off the battlefield, and they can benefit from the comradery of being with other women who have shared the same situations that they have,” Annabelle says.
The Boots to Heels program takes place over the course of three days. During the first day, women work to identify their barriers to confidence. The nonprofit discusses employment and introduces women to a community of resources available on the second day. And the third day features a celebration for the women.
The nonprofit’s fourth and newest program is its Spanish-Speaking Program. Annabelle says the nonprofit created this program because they saw a need in the Dallas-Fort Worth community for them to offer their Core Program in Spanish. This way, women can feel more comfortable expressing themselves in their native language. The nonprofit has three Spanish-speaking employees who have gone through the Core Program themselves.
“In fact, out of our seven employees, five are former clients at Attitudes and Attire,” Annabelle says. “I think it speaks bounds to who we are and what we offer and that we give these women confidence to succeed in life.”
Attitudes and Attire is excited to see its Spanish-Speaking Program grow.
The women Attitudes and Attire assists are all different ages, have various education levels, and come from all different backgrounds; however, they all share a life of adversity, which is why leaders at Attitudes and Attire feel it’s so important to boost their self esteems and help them reach their greatest potentials.
Each and every woman they help has a common goal of creating a better life for themselves and their families by becoming self-sufficient. Leaders at Attitudes and Attire believe their workshops give these women new perspectives and confidence so they can go out into the world and accomplish goals they may have never imagined.
“When I came to Attitudes and Attire, I was broken. I didn’t know how to dress; I didn’t even know my own size. All I wanted was to be a lady,” says Castanita, who was referred to Attitudes and Attire by Phoenix House. “They taught me that and so much more.”
There are a number of ways members of the public can get involved with Attitudes and Attire. You can volunteer to be a personal shopper with the nonprofit, where you can assist clients in dressing to find a work-appropriate outfit from the boutique. In this volunteer position, you’d provide the women with the support and encouragement they need.
Individuals can also volunteer to be a speaker at one of the Core Program’s workshops. You can speak about a variety of topics, such as interviewing and resume tips, money management, business etiquette, and more.
Volunteers are also always needed to help maintain Attitudes and Attire’s boutique. Individuals can volunteer their time to sort through new donations, create visual displays, and organize accessories and storage areas.
Lastly, volunteers can organize a drive with their company or friends to gather handbags, jewelry, scarves, and work-appropriate attire.