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    The woman told them up front: “I don’t like skirts.”

    It was sometime last year, not long after Laurie Sustek started working part-time at Dress for Success, a nonprofit that provides donated clothing and accessories to women going on job interviews, setting them up with extra outfits if they land a gig. Sustek and a colleague slid garments around on coat hangers like they were flipping through a Rolodex and selected a suit in the woman’s size. It fit perfectly — so perfectly that it seemed to change the woman wearing it. She was brighter, more confident. “You dress up and you feel good about yourself,” Sustek says.

    Now Sustek is taking that charitable show on the road. Anthem Kentucky Medicaid recently bought a 2010 Winnebago, renovated it and donated it to Dress for Success. The interior looks like a boutique that’s been squashed skinny, with faux-wood floors, a closet running nearly the full 31 feet of the vehicle, dressing rooms in the back complete with mirrors and hooks, and a scarlet booth where patrons can sit and try on shoes. There’s also a wifi-equipped bar where women can hop on one of the laptops for help writing resumes. “It’s a closet on wheels,” Sustek says.

    Dress For Success unveiled the mobile program at Fourth Street Live in late August, so it’s still in the early stages. (Sustek is pretty sure Mayor Fischer used the phrase “fashion with compassion” at the event.) But Sustek hopes to make connections in 13 counties throughout northern Kentucky and southern Indiana and hit the road a few times each week, bringing the program to folks who might have trouble getting to Dress for Success’ physical location in downtown Louisville. They accept clothing donations — including everything from scrubs to jewelry, but no used undies — the first Thursday and third Saturday of every month. Sustek herself donated some purses before she got the job. “It seemed like a better fit than Goodwill,” she says.

    This originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline "Closet on Wheels." To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Cover photo: Inside the Dress for Success mobile van // by Mickie Winters, mickiewinters.com

    Dylon Jones's picture

    About Dylon Jones

    Dylon Jones is an award-winning poet and essayist based in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as web editor of Louisville Magazine.

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