Ashley Vankilsdonk wants to be a mechanic in a bike shop when she finishes school.
The 17-year-old Albany girl figures she won’t need much in the way of fancy office clothes after she lands such a job. But there’s the pre-job interview to consider, and she wants to look her best.
“I do like dressing like this,” said Vankilsdonk, nodding at the sweater-jacket ensemble she put together Thursday for the Job Fair Fashion Show at Albany Options School. “It makes me feel like a bigger person. A businessperson.”
Vankilsdonk and classmates Suzanna Costner, 16, and Flavio Lopez, 17, modeled professional attire for their classmates at the fashion show in preparation for Tuesday’s Youth Job Fair at Linn-Benton Community College.
They also heard clothing dos and don’ts from Josefine Fleetwood, the business-to-school liaison for the Albany school district, and interview tips from Greg Ivers, business services representative for the Oregon Employment Department.
Skirts are a good choice for women, Fleetwood said, but if you’re going to go with pants, make sure they’re good dress slacks. Top them with a jacket and choose closed-toe shoes.
Men who don’t have jackets can go with a sweater or a button-down shirt and tie. Wear khakis or slacks instead of jeans, and dress shoes or loafers instead of sneakers, she said.
“It’s just always best to go conservative,” Fleetwood said.
Fleetwood sought donations and worked with resale shops such as 1st Hand Seconds to build wardrobes for the models.
She found a designer jacket for Costner for $10 and put together Vankilsdonk’s entire wardrobe for $40. She didn’t need to do much with Lopez, who already owned a suit and said he enjoys looking formal when the occasion demands.
The fashion show, he said, is “basically to show people who don’t like dressing up and stuff to be more formal when they go for a job interview. They look more professional, and it looks like they’re more determined to get a job.”
Principal Candy Baker said the alternative high school program preps for the job fair every year, but added the “dress for success” component this year for that extra brush of professionalism.
“The ultimate goal is to help students be positive, successful members of our community,” she said.