Is there such a thing as dressing for success anymore? Almost any company or business used to have a dress code but Casual Fridays, legal challenges, and relaxed attitudes have reduced the enforcement or existence of dress codes.
The real estate industry is no exception to the shifting of dress codes and attire for success. Some brokerages used to have logo-colored jackets; others mandated suits for men and suits or dresses for women (women’s trousers weren’t acceptable). Now, such attire seems very outdated and almost comical.
Arguments that “professional attire” inspires confidence in clients still persist – and with some reason, in some real estate markets. Areas where suit-and-tie business attire is still appropriate tend to be preferred in larger, cosmopolitan areas and when working with higher income/higher power clients.
What’s going on in your real estate market?
First impressions – In some areas, formal attire is appropriate for a first meeting whereas it may be perceived as over-the-top or intimidating in other areas. A professional image consultant suggests that attire for both men and women real estate agents should reflect the tastes of their clients.
Clues for proper attire
This is a variation on “Location, location, location.” What clues does your client/brokerage location suggest? If your brokerage firm does not have specific guidance or restrictions on attire, look at what your clients, peers, and your competitors in your area wear as possible guidelines for your own dress-for-success plan.
Dressing for success with the work is messy
There will be times when an agent will have to walk, climb, or crawl around dirty properties. Property inspections are part of the business and you should dress carefully, safely, and appropriately for these circumstances.
And there will also be times when the very grubby agent will be called to meet with a client, ASAP. It may not be possible to change or refresh yourself before the meeting but a brief explanation and apology can go a long way toward easing an awkward moment. Clients can be wonderfully understanding.
Gone too far…
Some attire conveys too much of an, “I’d rather be on vacation,” attitude. With few exceptions, T-shirts, flip-flops, and shorts are still viewed with disfavor among many businesses, including real estate. High temperatures can certainly influence choice of attire at times but extremely casual clothes and footwear can be too much (or little) for even the most relaxed office and client environment.
Clients also react less favorably with agents whose style of hair, clothes and accessories is too outdated and unkempt. Excessively flashy, provocative, or poor fitting clothes are inappropriate at any time.
The best dressed you
Good grooming is companion to being well dressed. You may have been rushing about but take a moment to comb your hair, straighten your clothes, and dust off the shoes. Even at the most casual level, every agent should present a clean appearance. (Think of your less-than-favorable reaction to being addressed by an unkempt service person!) Cleanliness and good grooming matter. They are not negotiables.
Having a positive self-image is not a matter of excessive pride. Genuine self-confidence can give clients a greater sense of confidence in working with you. Poor body language and self-image don’t inspire confidence in any relationship, especially in real estate.
Today, there are no hard and fast rules for to how to dress for success as a real estate agent. One style certainly doesn’t work for every agent and brokerage. When in doubt, take the more conservative approach at the start and adapt from there. The clean, approachable, confident, adaptive you is sure to be successful in real estate.