a peek inside the fishbowl

06 Oct, 2015

Dress for Success

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!|Ottawa

I have a confusing and conflicted relationship with The Act of Shopping. I am not a clothes horse, but I do love good clothes. I don’t like cheap clothing that falls apart and I don’t like fast fashion and everything that goes along with it. I will spend money where it’s warranted, on a great pair of winter boots for example, but generally, don’t like to shop. This is why I have one pair of winter boots and wear them until they fall apart.

It is for these reasons that I sometimes like to shop at places like Value Village. It’s inexpensive, good for the environment AND my closet. Mind you, going to ValVill is work. I can only muster the energy to go a few times a year, and I make sure I’m fueled up when I go. Last time I was there was in the summer, and I had one of those ZOMG moments that everyone hopes for when they are shopping in a second hand store. I found a pair of Prada slingback pumps, that were in amazing shape, for $14.99. They were a size 9 1/2, a shade too small, but I couldn’t leave them there, because, well, PRADA.

I realized later it was dumb of me to buy them. They didn’t really fit, no matter how much I tried, and the girls weren’t interested. So they sat in my closet until yesterday, which is when I dropped them off at Dress for Success. (Watch this short video to learn a bit more about the great work they do.) I follow them on Twitter, which is how I learned they are desperately looking for XL clothing and larger size shoes.

So I buckled up and drove them over:

These shoes are off to a new home

Dress for Success is in the basement of a building on Wellington Street. You park, walk around the building, and trip down a short set of stairs that make you wonder where the hell you are actually going to end up. I opened the door on a pile of clothes and a few people in the act of sorting. My drop off was rather unceremonious. I left the shoes there, and went home.

I got to thinking about how important this organization is to our community. They are helping women get work by a seemingly simple act: by helping them get dressed for a job interview. DFS is more than this, of course. They are cheerleaders, mentors, and coaches too, but the act of suiting someone up is huge. Putting yourself together for an interview is half the battle of job hunting. If you’re well-dressed you feel confident. If you feel confident, you’re more likely to present your best self. And when you present your best self, the work will follow.

Shoes are just as important as the suit, don’t you think? When I saw the pumps at ValVill I immediately saw them for what they were: POWER SHOES. A solid high heel makes you stand tall AND be stable at the same time. They are well-constructed, not a cheapie throwaway shoe, which means you invest and care about yourself. And the colour of them is the icing on the cake: totally unique, with a bit of playfulness that isn’t garish or tacky. Red means “I AM AWESOME AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT.”

I would love to know who ended up with these shoes, because I have a feeling they are infused with some kind of magic. I hope they bring the wearer confidence, happiness and success.


3 Responses to "Dress for Success"

1 | Brenda A

October 6th, 2015 at 2:16 pm


I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but I have come across SO many high end brand name items that are complete knock-offs. The counterfeiting industry is HUGE and some items can look quite genuine, but in reality they were made with substandard materials in substandard factories in third world countries.

Sorry your shoes didn’t fit! I love red shoes.

2 | andrea tomkins

October 6th, 2015 at 2:30 pm


True! It could have been a knockoff, but it was pretty solid. And for $15 bucks it is still a great shoe for someone.

3 | Life of K

October 18th, 2015 at 10:44 pm


(Just catching up on your blog.) Thanks for this post! I have the suit I interviewed in years ago that I’m ready to donate and think it would be perfect for Dress for Success. I didn’t know they existed until now.

comment form:


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter