The real estate agent’s dress code

by Chip Bell


Irina Kim Sang is a broker associate with Caldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Miami Beach, as well as the author of “Realtor Branding: Marketing Yourself for Real Estate Success.”

When you have a professional job, finding office outfits can be tough: You don’t want to sacrifice your personal style, but you also want to dress professionally.

Your office outfits don’t have to be bland and boring. Your personal style can set you apart and serve as a major differentiator for your personal brand.

Dress to impress

The reality of real estate is that many well-qualified and capable men and women are often disqualified or dismissed by clients because they have trouble marketing themselves. If they look like they left the “business” out of “business casual,” then the gap between their professional appearance and desired perception of trust, competence, credibility and value is hard to breach. Proper clothes signal to clients that they can trust your taste. Dress style is obviously a powerful communicator of your reputation, image, success, confidence and self-respect.

The first impression you make on a prospect carries a lot of weight. The public will always make a judgment of you, fairly or unfairly, based on how you dress.

Adapt your personal style

There are many fashion styles today: Bohemian, Arty, Chic, Classic, Exotic, Flamboyant, Glamorous, Romantic, Sexy, Sophisticated, Western, Traditional, Preppy, Punk, Tomboy, Rocker and Goth, to start. All of them can be narrowed down to three major business clothing choices for real estate professionals:

  • Conservative: Outfits built using high-contrast pieces, classic business colors with minimum details and usually paired  with accessories.
  • Relationship: Outfits that incorporate more colors, textures, design patterns, unique style details and comfort. Real estate is a people business and clothes set the proper tone to connect, which is the primary objective of the sales process. This style alternative is the closest in meaning to “business casual”.
  • Creative: Outfits that demonstrate your creative business potential through following fashion trends in terms of models, colors and key design elements.

All three style approaches can serve you well depending on your objective and the situation.

There is no general agreement what exactly the term “business casual” stands for.

Ten rules to live by

There are countless resources dedicated to how to dress for success.  But the needs of real estate professionals are often quite unique. Here are 10 rules especially formulated to help agents cultivate the “top producer look,” develop their brand and create a personal style:

  1. Understand that you are your client’s representative: Your dress contributes not only to your image, but also your client’s reputation.
  2. Do not underestimate details: Being well groomed, but not overdone demonstrates your self-respect, discipline and attention to detail.
  3. Be ready for anything: Keep alternative shoes in the car.
  4. Choose a “No home office” attitude: Giving in to the temptation to wear yoga pants on the job will set you up for failure when you bump into a million-dollar client at the post office.
  5. Remember there is no “Casual Friday” even on construction sites: Dressing well is a great habit to develop.
  6. Think twice about sex appeal: “Sexy” might be damaging. Imagine how you will be perceived by the female client.
  7. Dress up your body shape: It is not about how expensive your outfit is that matters, but rather how it fits your body.
  8. Be age appropriate.
  9. Do not mix too many brands in one outfit: Less is more.
  10. Keep in mind that the following elements of your appearance will project an outdated look if not updated on regular basis: Glasses, hairstyle and tie design.

Finally, some words of wisdom: an agent makes a chic and sophisticated impression when she leaves a scent of expensive perfume in her wake, she has perfect nails and her diamonds are small enough to be real, but large enough to be noticed.

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