|Clockwise from top left: Yours truly styled by Broadripple boutique Marigold; US Magistrate Judge Denise K. LaRue looking regal in clothing from 8Fifteen; Me in cocktail dress from Marigold; Indianapolis Colts Vice-Chair/Owner Carlie Irsay-Gordan rocking the runway in Nikki Blaine Couture; Me in Margold; Just Pop In! co-founders Mandy Selke and Carly Swift strutting in Nikki Blaine Couture. All Photos from Faith Blackwell Photography.|
I've said it before, but it's worth repeating, "the best clothes money can't buy" come from Dress For Success Indianapolis (DFSI), a non-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life.
Last month, I was honored to participate once again (albeit in an unexpected way) in the organization's largest annual fundraiser, Stepping Out In Style. As a founding board member of DFSI and the first chair of Stepping Out In Style, it has been incredible to see the evolution of this event over the last eleven years. In its inaugural year, the event was attended by 330 guests and raised $7500 to support the cause. In the second year, attendance doubled and the funds raised increased to $50,000. Each there thereafter, attendance and community support have continued to grow. This year, nearly 1000 guests enjoyed the evening of fashion, food, and fun, which raised close to a quarter of a million dollars! These funds enable the organization to offer life changing support and ongoing programs to more than 1500 women in the central Indiana community each year.
One of my favorite things about Stepping Out In Style is the way it pulls our community together - the fashion show features local community leaders as "runway role models," wearing clothing and jewelry from locally owned boutiques, and is sponsored by a bevy of local businesses who appreciate the importance of the success of each woman to the community as a whole. The annual participation of local heroes from the Indianapolis Fire Department is also a big hit, though I'm not sure who enjoys it more - our female guests or the firemen themselves!
Having chaired the event for seven years, served on the committee for two years, and modeled in 2011, this year I have to say I was looking forward to watching the action from the audience, buying raffle tickets, and digging for diamonds during the cocktail hour. And then, just a few hours before the event started, I got a phone call.... Unfortunately, one of this year's models was unable to participate at the last minute due to a death in the family, and an "understudy" was needed to walk the runway in the clothes she was set to feature. With assurance from the fashion show coordinator (the fabulous Murph Damron) that these clothes I had never laid eyes on would fit, I pulled on some Spanx and rushed off to the JW Marriott for dress rehearsal, hair, and makeup. As last minute as it was, it was a delight to be part of the backstage madness again, and I enjoyed bonding with my fellow models as we helped each other primp, prep, and practice our runway walks. I'm also happy to report I did not fall down on the runway or even stumble (I'm not always graceful - remember the Calamity Jane post?)
You can read more about the sponsors, models, and boutiques featured in Stepping Out In Style here, and you can see a "behind the scenes" video and more photos of the event from veteran Indianapolis Star photographer Frank Espich here and here, and from professional photographer and long time DFSI supporter Faith Blackwell here. If you're local, I hope you'll join the fun in 2014!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!