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Dress for Success | The Story Of The Suits

As the staff of Dress for Success Auckland arrived one cold morning in June, a carefully wrapped box of donations sat at their front door. Not an unusual sight — around 80% of clothing used to clothe their clients comes directly from the public — but what was inside this one large box has become legendary among the staff.


Each year the charity serves around 1500 female clients who are seeking a confidence boost so that they can gain work. They come from all walks — long-term unemployed, new graduates or women who have endured an unforeseen life change. Each woman receives a toptotoe dressing, shoes, handbag and makeup. Director Lani French says that around 70% go on to secure employment. “It’s more than the numbers that count,” Lani says. “It’s the feeling of confidence and the self belief that women leave here with that matters most.”


But back to that box: what lay inside were some of the most immaculate tailormade

suits the staff had ever seen, clearly hailing from around the 1970s, crafted by local legend Adrienne Winkelmann and Michael Mattara designer from Taumaranui who won three awards at the 1968 Benson and Hedges awards.


Some garments are too extraordinary for an interview scenario, so are better used to raise funds for this life changing service so on Friday 18 March the mystery box and other designer and vintage garments will go on sale for Dress for Success at their annual Designer sale in Ponsonby.