Dumb Question... How Should I Dress?

42 Replies

So I may be over thinking this or maybe this actually does matter as much as I think it does, but I am in the process of getting my real estate salesperson license. I’m on track to be licensed next month and I’m curious about how I should dress my first time meeting with brokers to interview. Is it appropriate to wear something like chinos and a nice button up dress shirt tucked in and dress shoes or should I be in a full suit? I was thinking I need to buy a suit to interview with them but I also don’t wanna stand out as being over dressed compared to everyone else and come off as a try hard or something but I don’t wanna look like a bum or a slacker showing up in something more business casual.

Long story short, I think I should buy a suit before interviewing with brokers but is this really necessary?

Also just out of curiosity, if I can only afford to buy one nice suit at the moment, would it be better to go with a navy or grey? I’ve been told black is too formal to wear every day. I feel like navy is the way to go if you only have a single suit?

You're never going to be penalized for overdressing in this type of a scenario. Unless you wear a Tuxedo a la Step Brothers.

Regarding color, pick what looks good on you! I have both grey and navy suits. Both colors look good, but the grey looks and fits better, so it is therefore my favorite. I would agree that black is probably too formal.

Go with the suit!

Originally posted by @David Nacco :


If you're meeting with bankers then 3 piece suit should do it. (black, gray, blue)

If you're meeting with clients and customers than looking more normal and "just like them" will help you. Being over dressed will make you look like a slick salesman and this will cause them to not trust you. Or it will be threatening to their ego and this will make things weird. 

Also try to match the "look" of your market. Every city is different and there's a concept called "unity" created by Robert Cialdini in a book known as "Presuasion" (which you should read) that explains that we like, trust and help those who "Are" us.

My experience: Commercial agent, multiple door to door sales gigs, business owner.

Good luck!

 

@Jason Allen Thanks that helped a lot! As far as dressing similar to the client (while still professional) how do you know for your first time meeting? Is it usually safe to wear a suit or maybe a dressed down suit without a tie and buttoned to the top or something for the first meeting and adjust from there work?

Originally posted by @David Nacco :

@Jason Allen Thanks that helped a lot! As far as dressing similar to the client (while still professional) how do you know for your first time meeting? Is it usually safe to wear a suit or maybe a dressed down suit without a tie and buttoned to the top or something for the first meeting and adjust from there work?

If you're just talking about the brokers then do a full 3 piece suit. The more intimidated they are with your appearance, intelligence and interpersonal skills the better you'll be landing a job. But remember brokers will pretty much hire anyone because you might be a producer, they can't possibly know. 

For customers: generally for selling residential a collared shirt with causal pants and shoes is fine (no crazy watch or car because that's their money paying for that crap basically). If you're selling luxury mansions then take that up a notch and maybe even bring in the suit. Rich people are sold differently than middle class. They like to save time by outsourcing to professionals (You), they want to work with someone they ("feel" important word) sophisticated, sharp, an expert in his field (whether you are or not).

Middle class people want to feel like they're getting a deal.

Poor people are opportunistic, more impulsive but are rarely qualified and you probably shouldn't sell to them.

@David Nacco I don’t think it’s dumb it’s actually very important. And to have that uncertainty shows that you realize it’s important.

A lot of good pointers here already, but consider this: be the best of whoever you are and be comfortable! If you’re putting on an act most people will see through that immediately! Dress clean, sharp and respectable and that means for you and respecting the person you’re meeting. Which means doing your due diligence on the person, framing the context and adjusting accordingly.

And of course avoid any extreme that would alienate you from the person. (Think concert T shirt or tuxedo)

@Brian Orr Awesome thanks for that tip! Yeah I like wearing suits or at least suit pants and a jacket with a button up but I didn’t want them to be put off by it if that’s not generally the way new agents show up!

When you meet your broker for an interview.  Nice fitted dress shirt, nice fitted dress slacks (navy blue), brown shoes, brown belt. Bam you are ready.

Now when you meet with your client's clothes matter even more. In real estate first impressions are everything.  You are in an image business and unfortunately, some people judge you by your image. The sharper you look the better.  I can't tell you how many times when I first started and I just looked like some 23yr old kid but people gave me a chance because of how I looked and more importantly how I carried myself.  But they never would have given me an opportunity to impress them if I didn't dress the part. 

As your income grows and you make sales always upgrade your wardrobe. Success breeds success. My ROI on my clothes probably 5000%+. It's a no brainer.

@Frank Wong Thanks for the input, I myself just turned 24 so I do look younger as it is. But I also carry myself in a very professional manner when it’s time to work. I have heard that it’s not uncommon for a certain agent to get picked by a client because they showed up in a designer suit with a Rolex on and drive a Mercedes even though the other agent is more qualified in terms of actual skill as experience. Have you found this to be true generally especially with upper middle / upper class clients? Do you think as I start seeing steady commission upgrading at least a few suits, shoes and watches to nicer designer brands and maybe getting a nicer car actually contribute to a pay raise?

@David Nacco

Be in excellence.

Whatever that is for you.

Be authentic.

Be yourself when you're in excellence! 

Cheers to your success, congrats on getting your license! ;)

@David Nacco

Be you. Nobody else. I accepted an award in front of 400+ other investors last year wearing a $12 Guns N Roses shirt and $40 pants. ~75% of those people in that room had either benefited from and/or specifically requested my advice but never had met me. The presenter had toured extensively with Tony Robbins and Bill Clinton... in my opinion, the surprised looks said more about them than me. I could’ve worn a suit, but it just ain’t me. I’ve been successful because I’ve found my niche and dominated the crap out of it. Not because of my outfit.

Local custom. Since brokers will take just about anyone getting a license you are interviewing him for work you do but he gets a big or smaller cut, I prefer to dress like I will go to work not to a prom.

@David Nacco I agree with the others here.  If you make a mistake for a first meeting, you want to err on the side of being overdressed.  Once you start figuring out your market, you adjust as needed.  It may be suit and tie, it may be jeans and a polo shirt.  What I will mention is that even though your clients may be totally fine with you wearing shorts and flip flops, there are always other agents/brokers/potential clients that see you when you're out and about, so be careful in that regard.  I personally typically wear slacks and either a button down or polo shirt, because that's where my client base is at. If I'm with an investor I may wear jeans and a polo shirt, depending on how dirty I think we might get :) 

Also, your overall appearance matters, not just the clothes.  Make sure you are clean cut/have facial hair trimmed & looking nice, clipped fingernails, and shoes that look nice.  That's part of the whole package.  


Regarding vehicles, it's tough because you don't always know what people are thinking when they see you roll up in a certain vehicle.  For quite a while, I had an Altima and it was totally fine.  I now have an Audi, because I like the car not for business reasons.  I will say that I know for sure it helped me with one buyer because in her eyes I "looked" successful. Other than that, people really like it but it hasn't swayed their decision to use me as their agent.  I just recommend having a car that doesn't look like the yellow turd on "Better Call Saul"...

Welcome to the real estate business, it's all what you make of it! 

@Chad Boyers Thanks for the input! And yeah I stay pretty clean cut as it is. I’m in the military so I don’t really have a choice lol. I’m currently in my last year before I get out which is why I’m trying to get business started now so I can start networking and get a track record while I still know I have a steady paycheck!

@David Nacco , starting out I would go with this:

1. Conservative two or three button American cut dark grey suit. Something you could wear to an interview, a wedding, or a funeral. You're probably going to pay about $800 for this-- these suits do not go on sale. When you go to buy it get it from a salesman over 40 who looks sharp and dresses conservatively. If they can't assess your jacket size correctly without measuring you, find someone else. I like Hugo Boss. If you start buying more suits, the color starts to matter-- you need a suit color that works with your eye color, hair color, and skin tone. Black and dark grey look good on everybody. 

2. A 100% cotton, non-button down shirt with removable stays. The shirt needs to be white or a conservative shade of blue. Do not get a shiny or light blue. You can sometimes get really good shirts used at high end used clothing stores that specialize in business clothing for around $20. If you're buying new, expect to pay at least $50. Do not iron a crease in the cuffs.

3. Get the tie right. It needs to be conservative and hold a good knot. Not flashy. The more understated the better. Subtle patterns are good. Expect to pay $80 or more.

4. Black wing tips. In general with men's dress shoes, the more you pay the longer they last. Spend at least $70. You can decide to get expensive shoes later. Get them professionally shined before your interview. If you get the tie and shoes right, this will really put you over the top. 

5. Haircut. Go to a real barber shop and get your hair cut by a barber old enough to be your grandfather. Let him know you want to look good for an interview. Tip him well. 

@Mac F. Thanks for the input. Have you ever worn an Indochino suit? I see a lot of positive things about them and they are around $400 and are compared to suits that cost $1000. They have a store in Richmond, VA which is about an hour away from me and their suits are custom made to measure. That is what I was thinking about going with for my first couple of suits. Also I should be able to shine the shoes myself cause after being in the military I have shined my fair share of black shoes so I'm not so worried about having a professional do that part.

Originally posted by @David Nacco :

@Frank Wong Thanks for the input, I myself just turned 24 so I do look younger as it is. But I also carry myself in a very professional manner when it’s time to work. I have heard that it’s not uncommon for a certain agent to get picked by a client because they showed up in a designer suit with a Rolex on and drive a Mercedes even though the other agent is more qualified in terms of actual skill as experience. Have you found this to be true generally especially with upper middle / upper class clients? Do you think as I start seeing steady commission upgrading at least a few suits, shoes and watches to nicer designer brands and maybe getting a nicer car actually contribute to a pay raise?

Hi David,

You don't need a designer suit. You need one that is properly fitted to you. It could be a $400 suit supply suit. They have great suits there with the right people who will advise you on the exact fit. I can't tell you how many times I see people wear $1,500 suits that are just way too big and it makes the suit look cheap. You only really need 1 suit. This is the one you wear to the listing appointment. For everything else dress pants, dress shirt, and maybe a nice blazer. 

Things I would get in the level of importance. When your income increases and you are ready to upgrade your wardrobe. 

1. Shoes - For now a nice pair of Cole Haan dress shoe brown. It won't break the bank. As you make more money and ready to upgrade go Ferragamo. Then when you are ready to go up again a high fashion brand.

2. Dress shirts - For now just get nice fitted shirts. When you are ready to upgrade go get a custom-fitted shirt. It does not cost that much more and its way cheaper than buying designer brands at Nordstrom. You pick the fabric and you get measured and the shirt is perfect. Nothing can compare to getting it custom for your body. 

Everything else you mentioned is not that necessary but if you love watches which I do.  A very nice timepiece is a great opener to talk to clients. I have made so many deals with new clients just because we both love watches and we talked about it. Looking sharp is just the beginning you have to talk the talk and walk the walk. Clients stick by you and work with you not how you look but how you perform.  Image is just the opener your professionalism and value you bring closes the deal.

When you dress sharp you act sharp and if it gives you an edge that's what you want over your competition. Real Estate sales is an ultra-competitive field and you want to differentiate yourself from the competition in any way you can. 

 

Originally posted by @David Nacco :

@Mac F. Thanks for the input. Have you ever worn an Indochino suit? I see a lot of positive things about them and they are around $400 and are compared to suits that cost $1000. They have a store in Richmond, VA which is about an hour away from me and their suits are custom made to measure. That is what I was thinking about going with for my first couple of suits. Also I should be able to shine the shoes myself cause after being in the military I have shined my fair share of black shoes so I'm not so worried about having a professional do that part.

Those are fine for everyday wear, but not for an interview. You need at least one premium suit-- you really want to stick the first impression. As long as your interviews aren't on consecutive days, you can probably get away with wearing the same suit over as long as you change the tie.

You generally want a pro to do the first shine on your shoes-- a military shine is different than a business shine. You can touch them up on your own. If you're even thinking of wearing the low quarters you were issued do pushups.

 

Definitely go with the suit for the interview, my friend @David Nacco

Like others have mentioned, when client-facing, reflect your audience.

I made this mistake years ago in my sales job. Showed up in a suit and my customer asked (jokingly) if I was an attorney? I never wore another suit in that market again. 

@Calvin Smith Lol yeah my market is very diverse from very wealthy vacation beach homes on the ocean to huge farmhouse estates to very low income inner city areas so I will definitely keep this in mind based on my clientele

Originally posted by @Mac F. :

@David Nacco , starting out I would go with this:

1. Conservative two or three button American cut dark grey suit. Something you could wear to an interview, a wedding, or a funeral. You're probably going to pay about $800 for this-- these suits do not go on sale. When you go to buy it get it from a salesman over 40 who looks sharp and dresses conservatively. If they can't assess your jacket size correctly without measuring you, find someone else. I like Hugo Boss. If you start buying more suits, the color starts to matter-- you need a suit color that works with your eye color, hair color, and skin tone. Black and dark grey look good on everybody. 

2. A 100% cotton, non-button down shirt with removable stays. The shirt needs to be white or a conservative shade of blue. Do not get a shiny or light blue. You can sometimes get really good shirts used at high end used clothing stores that specialize in business clothing for around $20. If you're buying new, expect to pay at least $50. Do not iron a crease in the cuffs.

3. Get the tie right. It needs to be conservative and hold a good knot. Not flashy. The more understated the better. Subtle patterns are good. Expect to pay $80 or more.

4. Black wing tips. In general with men's dress shoes, the more you pay the longer they last. Spend at least $70. You can decide to get expensive shoes later. Get them professionally shined before your interview. If you get the tie and shoes right, this will really put you over the top. 

5. Haircut. Go to a real barber shop and get your hair cut by a barber old enough to be your grandfather. Let him know you want to look good for an interview. Tip him well. 

 BANG.


Print this and stick it on your fridge with a magnet and read it every Sunday afternoon.