Advocacy through Appearance: An Exploration of Professional Identity, Self-Sufficiency, and the Clothing-Related Non-Profit

Date
2016-11-08
Authors
Konya, Tara
Hodges, Nancy
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Abstract

Non-profit organizations are often established to address economic and social disparities by providing resources to those in need, with the goal of improving society. The following qualitative study looks to examine the role of the clothing-related non-profit in helping clients develop a professional identity through donated dress. In order to look beyond the short-term goal of getting a job, in-depth interviews were administered to 36 participants. Utilizing the enclothed cognition framework, an understanding of how donated clothing can also be used to foster the skills necessary to build a long-term career was developed. Thus, with the help of the clothing-related non-profit, it is possible that professional dress can be used as a conduit for achieving economic independence. To address this possibility, the study will also explore how developing a professional identity through donated dress can help clients of clothing-related non-profits achieve broader goals of personal and professional self-sufficiency.

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