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Dress for Success: Does Real Estate Have a Dress Code?

Imagine your contractor shows up in a three piece suit to lay new tiles in your bathroom. Now imagine your real estate agent shows up in dirty sweats and a wife beater to your first meeting… You might be cringing, but why is that? Does real estate have a dress code? And will you be more or less successful based on what you’re wearing?


Most people agree that there is no dress code for real estate agents, same goes for contractors and every other professional in real estate. Some agents don’t feel comfortable being overdressed and some agents want to dress more casual if they’re showing beachside homes so they can put their feet in the sand and enjoy the weather. You must use your best judgment, based on the type of meeting or job you are showing up to do. So the answer is, no there is no dress code. 


A 3-piece suit is not inappropriate, but it may not be the best or most comfortable choice when you are working in construction. The same outfit may make a real estate agent look good and prepared to make a good first impression with a prospective homebuyer. That same agent may be overdressed in that same 3-piece suit if they’re going to check up on the progress of a new construction home. It’s all about the place and time, and sometimes it’s about the client.


Have you ever been told to “dress your market”? If you’re selling multi-million dollar homes, then you may want to put in some effort so you can look like a million dollars too. Think of it this way, your client doesn’t know you and their first impression is the way you look. If someone is preparing to put their life savings into your hands, you want to make sure you represent your abilities by the way you dress. If you look messy, or always look like you just rolled out of bed, that may allow these strangers to make these same unpleasant assumptions about your work ethic. If they have nothing else to judge you by and have never worked with you personally, then they may fear that you may be lazy and the work you do for them will be messy. 


Some argue that if you are selling luxury properties then you must be wearing luxury designer items. But your clothes do not have to be designer or expensive, you can dress simply and still look better and do better than most. Tailor your clothes and they will look like they have been custom-made for you, and don’t ever skip ironing your clothing!!! Don’t go bankrupt stocking your closet, yet if this is important for you then you can choose a few designer pieces to mix and match during important meetings.


Big city agents don’t always dress the same as small city agents, keep that in mind if you ever move to a different market. If you move to Los Angeles, CA from Lotsee, OK your new audience will be completely different and may expect a more formal appearance or they will think you’re being unprofessional. Big city agents typically wear business-formal attire all the time. Big city agents tend to dress like lawyers or bankers, especially because they are fulfilling a somewhat similar role. Small town agents do have more freedom with the way they dress, most agents in the suburbs or rural areas choose business casual outfits.


You must always be sensitive to the culture when moving to a new market. If you are selling in a place that has a very religious population; whether the community is made up of Muslim people or Christians, you should expect your clients to be from these communities and respect their religion and boundaries. Be mindful, don’t wear revealing outfits, not because it’s wrong but to make your client feel comfortable and safe. 


Above all else, remember that your mindset is just as important as your outfit, if not more important. You could be dressed better than you’ve ever looked before but it won’t matter if you are not projecting optimism, drive and confidence. That is what your clients want to see! Work to feel good about the way you’re presenting yourself and the work you’re doing. Match your outfit with your personal strengths!