The Little Black Dress Initiative

Making Poverty Unfashionable

What is the Little Black Dress Initiative?

The Little Black Dress Initiative is a poverty awareness fundraising campaign in which participants wear one Black dress for five consecutive days, in order to illustrate the effects poverty can have on your access to resources, your confidence, and your employment opportunities. Following the campaign, participants donate dresses and other business appropriate clothing to Smart Works, a charity that helps women on low incomes prepare for job interviews, by providing them with professional attire and career development skills.


What our participants are saying about the Little Black Dress Initiative.

“One of the best things about the LBD Initiative was to share the JLL’s mission with family and friends. It also allowed me to gain some personal insight into the way that poverty can limit freedom of expression and hamper confidence. I have even more respect for our community partners Smart Works and Suited & Booted, who help those in need feel like their best selves while they prepare to enter the work force.” Gillian Granville Bentley

“I have to admit that wearing the same dress for five days definitely affected me more than I thought it would. As suspected, I spent a lot of time wiping yogurt, avocado and mud off of my dress thanks to my toddler. I have a new appreciation for how mothers with limited resources seeking employment must struggle to be presentable, punctual and a hands-on parent. I often found I could manage one or two of these things, but rarely all of them. Wearing the same dress for 5 days also affected my confidence more than I thought it would. This was unexpected as black dresses are sort of my uniform of choice, but by the start of Day 3 I felt less comfortable, less myself and certainly less likely to speak up or bring any attention to myself.” Erin Northey

“For me, the beginning of the week was pretty easy and I enjoyed styling the dress in different ways, but by day 4 and 5, I was really wanting to change the dress and put on basically anything that is different. I think this is when the LBDI really hit me…there are a lot of women who literally don’t have the option to change their outfits every day and it truly does impact confidence. Participating in this campaign made me realise how important it really is to donate items in my own closet, and that by me giving up a dress, I may be giving someone else choices.” Lauren Zimman

Learn more here!