Teaching new grads how to dress for success for less

Whether you just earned your college degree or a high school diploma, it's time to get ready for the real world.

Job applications, networking and interviewing skills are all essential for entering the workforce, but according to Human Resources expert Niakesha Woodley, many new graduates enter the workforce with the right skills, but the wrong attire.

"For young ladies, the skirts are too short or the pants are too clingy and then you have a supervisor judging you on your appearance because they're distracted, which means you're not getting to make your best first impression," said Woodley, who helps graduating seniors prepare for job interviews.

Woodley established the "Dress for Success for Less College Tour" to teach young adults what to wear and what not to wear in the workplace. Colleges and universities tap her to host Soft Skills seminars where she actually shows students the items they should have in their professional career wardrobe.

"I've had hiring managers tell me this person or that person would have been a great candidate, but they just weren't dressed for the part and that gave them a cause for concern when it came to hiring them or promoting them within the company," Woodley told FOX 5's Portia Bruner during a recent trip to the Goodwill thrift store on Lawrenceville Highway in Decatur.

According to Woodley, good work skills, a good work ethic, and a good appearance are all equally important for employers.

"It's critical for young people to look up the part and that starts with building a professional wardrobe. It's not about looking old, but having something that reflects that you are a professional. That's why I tell young people to start at thrift stores to buy the basics like suits and ties, blazers, dress shirts and dress shoes."

Woodley said some rules never change when it comes to workplace attire, especially with job interviews. 

"For men, it's almost always appropriate to wear suits. That means a blazer with matching pants. Once you get the job, it's okay for men to wear blazers with pants that don't match. Women should avoid spaghetti straps, sleeveless outfits, and short or form-fitting dresses. This is about young people learning how to build their brand and realizing it doesn't have to cost a fortune to dress for success," Woodley said.

Woodley helped 2018 Georgia State University graduate Quinton Buckner and GSU student Kiara Henry find great professional wardrobe pieces on their trip to Goodwill.

For more information about the advice Woodley shares with young people, you can follow her on Instagram at @softskillscollegetour and on Twitter at @softskillstour.