“If there was ever a charity with my name on it, this is it!” Jeanne Beker said Wednesday of Dress for Success, an organization that provides disadvantaged women with stylish outfits for job interviews. The Canadian fashion icon was addressing the crowd at the Heel of a Good Time Fashion Fundraiser at Toronto’s The Fifth Social, where she was honoured for her support of the charity: she’s raised $100,000 in the last three years. FLARE caught up with Beker at the event, which included a fashion show plus live and silent auctions for goodies like Coach bags and Calvin Klein shoes.
“Dress for Success is a natural fit for me because it’s about sisterhood and about empowerment through fashion,” Beker said. The FashionTelevision channel host shared her job interview essentials, including a no-nonsense pump and a fresh, crisp blazer. She’s a fan of the pencil skirt—“It’s kind of sexy, but not overtly”—and pantyhose (no runs!), as well as tasteful accessories and a structured bag.
Beker also described some memorable get-ups she wore job-hunting in the ’60s. Interviewing for Fairweather in Toronto’s Yorkdale mall, she rocked a “fabulous camel-coloured jersey mini-dress and brown leather sandals with a wooden stacked heel.” Another go-to was a blue satin shirt-dress with tiny polka dots from Unicorn, a Marilyn Brooks-owned boutique, paired with white go-go boots—and a pixie cut! Finally, Beker recalled the look she rocked at 16 when auditioning for the CBC sitcom Toby: a hot-pink knit skirt and matching short-sleeved top, textured white stockings, white patent-leather Mary Janes and long pigtails. (She wound up landing the role, which launched her career in television.)
An outfit can send a powerful message to a potential employer, she stressed: “It’s the biggest billboard you can give yourself! It’s how you telegraph who you are and what your potential is.”
Beker praised the hardworking volunteers of Dress for Success, whose efforts, she said, have transformed lives. “Clothing has the power to elevate, to transform, to raise the spirit and the psyche,” she said. “And I think that’s magical.”