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The Color Purple

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Christine Hightower is a vision in purple -- it's her color.

Executive director of Dress for Success Colorado Springs, Hightower sits in the corner of a crowded double closet, currently the boutique where gently used business suits, accessories, shoes and handbags are stored for her clients -- women moving off public assistance into the job market who need something fabulous to wear for that oh-so-important job interview, then to work after they've snagged the job, all at no cost.

"I heard about it on the Oprah Winfrey show," says Hightower, a petite brunette with a wide smile and elegant gestures. She previously worked in image consulting and color analysis, skills that translate well to Dress for Success and its mission.

"I thought this town needed Dress for Success," she says, folding a scarf, "so I called headquarters and asked how we could become an affiliate."

Dress for Success originated in New York City in 1996, and has since served some 70,000 women in 70 cities. The concept was utterly simple: Women moving from tough times and assistance into the job world need to dress well to make it in the competitive job market.

But as Christine Hightower has learned, it's much more than that.

When a woman comes to Dress for Success -- currently housed in the Hillside Community Center but soon to relocate to more spacious digs at the corner of Boulder and Institute streets -- she is treated to a complete consultation and walks away looking like a new woman.

"With some of our clients, their whole body language changes, their attitude changes during the time they spend here," says Hightower. "Some have never had the experience of having someone help them look good. Many of us haven't.

"Seeing how great you look in the right colors with the right accessories, it makes you feel good about yourself."

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