Suffolk helping job seekers dress for success

Wearing the new suit he just picked out,

Wearing the new suit he just picked out, Army reservist Thomas Baxter, of Central Islip, at Suffolk County's new Career Couture Boutique at the Department of Labor office in Hauppauge on Thursday, May 29, 2014. (Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

The Suffolk County Department of Labor, which has long helped job seekers look their best on their resumés and in interviews, is now helping them dress for success.

In Smithtown Thursday, the department inaugurated its Career Couture Boutique, which provides free professional clothing, shoes and accessories to eligible Suffolk County job seekers. The department is partnering with EAC Network, a Hempstead-based human-service nonprofit.

Diane LaChapelle, who works in special projects at the Labor Department, said people who attend events at its One-Stop Employment Centers are often improperly dressed.

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"So we felt that in the heart of our One Stop was the best place to have something like this for both men and women," she said.

The department said it believes the program is the first on Long Island to serve men and women. The boutique occupies a room in the department's Smithtown office and is fitted with circular and wall racks filled with suits, jackets, blouses, shoes, purses and jewelry.

Men's Wearhouse donated some of the suits, and others came from a clothing drive that county employees organized. June Kirby, a department employee, will run the boutique by appointment. The county said the operation won't require additional funding because the clothes will be donated and staff salary will come out of federal workforce investment funds.

Long Island had 65,900 unemployed residents in April, state data show, still significantly above the 49,000 in pre-recession April 2007.

The program's inaugural customer was Army Reserve Sgt. Tom Baxter, 51, a 20-year postal worker who recently completed a nine-month medical assistant program and hopes to find a job in the field.

Baxter, dressed in his Army camouflage, later suited up and modeled a dark olive green suit with a gold and black tie, all from the boutique.

"When you go on an interview, that will help you put your best foot forward," he said.

For more information residents can call 631-853-6769.

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