Real estate agents are wondering what not to wear, and I don’t blame them. Dress codes have become more relaxed in the past few years, which makes them even more complicated and harder to decipher. Combine that with the fact that what you wear is an important extension of you, your values, and your brand, and there’s a lot of pressure to not mess it up. But that’s where we come in, with this list of 10 Realtor outfits to never, ever wear. Read on for the what and the why!
(Oh and don’t think we forgot about the guys. Check out our style no-nos for men in real estate here.)
10 Real Estate Outfits You Should Never, Ever Wear
These are some general rules, and I feel strongly about them. But you’ll know if this advice doesn’t apply to you, your brand, or your market.
1. Anything That’s Too Much of a Statement
You want your clients to be focusing on you and the real estate, not your real estate outfit. You might have a definitive fashion point of view, but if it’s too much, your clients will be distracted from buying the wonderful property you’ve found for them.
2. Anything That Shows Your Midriff
Stay away from anything that’s going to distract from your role as a trusted adviser in what is one of the most important financial decisions people can make. Save those beautiful, toned abs for the pool.
3. Ripped, Torn, or Distressed Jeans
Distressed jeans are trendy and look great when styled well, but they’re not for work meetings. They just don’t send the right message. You’re trying to carefully explain the buyer’s offer that just came through and your client is sitting there thinking, “Did she actually buy them like that? Or did she have some kind of accident on the way over? Does she not know how to work a shredder? Is she training a puppy? Or a lion? Did she have to pay extra for all the holes?”
4. High Heels
“What?!” I hear you say, “These are lovely, classic pumps!” Sure, but look at that heel. It’s going to sink into the grassy backyard right as you’re pointing out the lovely view. If you want to wear heels to a showing or open house, I’m all for it, but pick a stacked or block heel. The yard doesn’t need to be aerated and your pretty heels don’t need to get muddy. Save those stilettos for the closing.
5. Flip Flops
While we’re discussing shoes, I also feel strongly about avoiding flip-flops. They make way too much noise flip-flapping when you walk. Summer sandals are fine, even cute! But avoid that distracting slapping noise.
And, I can’t believe I have to say this, but no Crocs. They should never have been invented, but now that they’re here, stay strong, resist the comfort—you know they look ridiculous.
6. Anything Too Short
It’s not necessary to get out a ruler. Just keep it classy and comfortable. No one wants to lead their clients up the stairs while worrying about a wardrobe malfunction.
7. Also, Shorts
I was trying to give shorts the benefit of the doubt and say maybe you could get away with some high-waisted Bermuda shorts or maybe pair shorts with a blazer, but no. Shorts are out. It’s too easy to get it wrong. If it’s hot, go with a skirt, dress, or some tailored linen pants. You’ll stay cool and look cool.
8. Anything Stained or Dirty
Stains happen. In fact, most of the day is spent trying to avoid stains: coffee in the morning, ketchup and mustard at lunch (or an oil-based salad dressing—that’s the worst). And then there are kids with muddy hands, peanut-butter-covered faces, and, of course, wine in the evening. It’s a minefield. Keep a stain pen with you, or better yet, a change of clothes. Just don’t wear stained clothes to a showing or appointment.
You want comfort, you want convenience—you reach for your activewear. Put it down. Back away. You cannot wear activewear to a showing with a client. You can shop for groceries and do yoga, but you can’t sit down to a listing appointment in your activewear.
The only exception I can think of is wearing activewear while skiing with clients to show them the perfect ski-in, ski-out chalet. Maybe there are others? Leave examples in the comments and I’ll gladly stand corrected.
10. Clothes That Show Your Undergarments
You might be able to rock this look—and more power to you—but don’t rock it with your clients. Once again, you want the attention on your listing, your expertise, the amazing offer you’ve brought in, or the iron-clad contract you’ve drafted, not … everything else.
Quick Tips on What to Wear
Now that you’ve avoided all of those dangerous fashion don’ts, let’s look at some fashion do’s.
Do keep the focus on professionalism. Most of the rules above are about making sure that your clients are paying attention to your real estate expertise, not your fashion faux pas!
Do use your real estate outfits strategically: a well-thought-out ensemble can convey maturity, success, creativity, and especially confidence.
Do build your outfits around some neutral, classic pieces, such as a blazer, pencil skirt, pair of dress pants, or white button-down shirt. With these staples in your wardrobe, you can add in color, patterns, and fun accessories.
Do know that dressing well for work doesn’t have to be expensive.
Do make how you dress an extension of your personal brand. For example, there’s a real estate agent in Florida, Sue Benson, who always wears a signature pink hue!
Do remember that fashion is supposed to be fun. Looking professional shouldn’t be boring. Be yourself and have a little fun with it. But no Crocs! Ever!
Bringing It All Together
Fashion is a personal choice, and at the end of the day, you are the only one who knows what’s right for you, your brand, and your market. But we hope this advice is helpful as you make these crucial sartorial decisions. What you wear as a real estate agent sends a key visual cue about who you are and what you value.
Have we missed any not-to-wear items? Have any advice from personal experience? More examples of when you can sneak in activewear? Leave us a comment below!