Successful Suits his Style Fundraiser Gives Clothes and Confidence to Local Men in Need

Photos by Ali Matthews

When it comes to professional attire, Ottawa is known for its conservative leanings. Walk down Sparks Street any given Wednesday and you will undoubtedly see more suits and ties than slacks and trainers.

The scene at the Metropolitain Brasserie this past Wednesday was a perfect reflection of this, with a crowd of professionally suited men and women networking for a cause – the “BE SQUARE” fundraising event for Suits his Style.

Whether you consider a suit and tie stuffy or polished, it is often a necessary component to any successful job interview and professional employment. However, for many low-income men in our community a professional wardrobe can be an obstacle in reaching their full potential.

To address this gap, Scott McNaughton co-founded the charity Suits his Style in 2014, to provide local, job-ready men with appropriate interview attire to help gain employment. However, the idea first occurred to McNaughton after his father passed away from cancer in 2013.

“[My father] owned a lot of dress clothes, several suits, dress shirts, dress pants and ties,” explained Scott McNaughton, Chair of the Suits his Style Board of Directors. “Rather than donating to an organization that would sell the clothes at a profit, I wanted to make sure the clothes got into the hands of men who needed the clothes the most.”

Fundraiser supporters Greg MacEachern, Chris McCluskey, Scott McNaughton, George Wamala and Rob Frelich.

Today, Suits his Style works by obtaining clothing donations from the public, locating men in need through over 40 charities and employment agencies across Ottawa, and then providing the clothing, accessories, and support needed to help achieve their goals. 

"Clothing shouldn't be a barrier to finding work," McNaughton said. "Suits his Style provides more than a suit, it provides men in need with a confidence boost and the ability to make a good first impression during their job interviews."

In just two short years, McNaughton and his team of volunteers have dressed over 400 men and plan on dressing an additional 400 by the end of 2017.

Despite this early success, Suits his Style hasn’t been given any major exposure, something that government relations professionals Greg MacEachern, and George Wamala planned to change with BE SQUARE.

“I was wondering if there was an organization for men like Dress for Success in Ottawa where I could donate my suits,” said MacEachern. “I tracked down Suits his Style online, we met for a coffee, and I convinced a group of friends to help organize a small fundraiser run by George and myself, as well as Rob Frelich, Chris McCluskey and Dan Mader who all pitched in.”

MacEachern and Wamala’s idea quickly transformed from a modest networking event into a full-blown fundraiser. This included securing sponsorship from RBC and Environics Communications as well as donations from L’Hexagone Menswear, Saab Salon, Hulse Playfair and McGarry, Rob Frelich and the Metropolitan Brasserie.

One of the men Suits his Style has recently helped addressed the crowd Wednesday night during the BE SQUARE fundraiser. He is a new Canadian and met Suits his Style when he was looking for an opportunity to teach French but didn’t have professional clothing to help him truly shine in an interview. Shortly thereafter, he got the job.

However, his story is not unique. “Over 65% of our clients go on to find work, go back to school or start their own business," stated McNaughton.

The evening was a complete success. There was a pile of clothing donations, critical exposure to the public and private employees that make up a dapper and diverse Parliament Hill crowd, and over $6000 raised for Suits his Style – exceeding their goal of $5000.

“It is only through the generous donations of the Ottawa community that Suits his Style can help men in need,” explained McNaughton. “The donations ensure we have clothes to give to the men and a private space to see men for their appointments."

If you would like to support Suits his Style, donations of gently used men’s professional dress clothes can be made to L'HEXAGONE Menswear 252 Dalhousie St, during regular business hours and monetary donations can be made through Suits his Style’s Canadahelps page.