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Clothes That Work

Local nonprofit celebrates 25 years of providing clothes and support to job seekers.

Article by Nina Weierman

Photography by April Sova—Remember When Portraits

Originally published in Centerville Lifestyle

Clothes that Work (CTW) will soon celebrate 25 years of clothing, educating and empowering individuals to prepare them for employment success. CTW was founded by 13 women in 1998 to provide interview and work-appropriate clothing to job seekers who are reentering the workforce. Today, they partner with local organizations that refer job seekers, who then work with trained volunteer coaches who help clients select interview attire and offer guidance on how to make a positive first impression.

Over the years, CTW has been able to constantly adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of the community. Some of these adjustments include expanding beyond women-only to serve the needs of men and independent teens and offering the Workforce Education Initiative (WEI). WEI is a series of workshops designed to equip clients with the knowledge and skills needed to create a professional image that will help them gain and maintain employment. 

In 2021, CTW leadership also launched the Accelerate Success Mobile Outreach Initiative with the goal of improving access to their programs beyond the Montgomery County Job Center location. 

“There is still very much a transportation barrier so the mobile unit will help us reach those throughout the Dayton region and beyond,” explains CTW Director of Operations, Suzy Harris. 

The Mobile Outreach Program is essentially a mobile unit (or bus) that will bring all CTW services provided at the Montgomery County Job Center out into the community. 

First Impressions Matter

Much has changed in the workplace over the last 25 years, but the importance of a good first impression remains constant. Suzy shares the story of one client who attended a job fair after being provided an interview outfit and coaching tips for the interview process. “There were 200 people in line but they pulled him out, gave him an interview, and he got the job. He asked, ‘Why me?’ They said it was because he was the only person who took the time and cared enough about the job to dress for it,” says Suzy. 

Boosting Confidence

Clients who come into CTW are taken into a well-organized boutique-style shop and are given attention and respect. Many clients express how the one-on-one advice and support from their client-coach made them feel more confident for their upcoming interview. 

Interview Style Tips

Client coaches at Clothes That Work may make recommendations such as, laying out clothing the day before the interview to ensure it’s clean and pressed, and choosing neutral clothing colors like gray, black, brown, and navy blue. If wearing makeup, they advise using soft and neutral colors and limiting fragrance or aftershave.    

Support from the Community

There are several ways to support Clothes That Work: volunteer, donate new or gently used clothing and accessories, host a clothing drive, shop The Boutique, and/or make a donation. All donations should be clean, in good condition, and less than five years old. The Boutique is open to the public and has clothing that was donated but isn’t as well-suited to interviewing. 

Clothes That Work is currently accepting clothing donations by appointment only at their facility at the Montgomery County Job & Family Services Building. Clothing donation appointments can be made on their website. 

Follow CTW on Facebook and Instagram for posts about most-needed items. For more information about how to support Clothes That Work, The Boutique hours and more, visit

  • Concept design for the mobile unit.