There have been about a zillion books and articles written about how to dress in business. The variations of what it means to “Dress for Success” have evolved as the years have passed, trends have come and gone and fashion styles have varied. In commercial real estate brokerage, there seems to be a fairly wide range of what is deemed “appropriate attire” given the diverse types of clients, property types and geographic areas we operate in. There are obvious situations that will require the suit and tie or lady’s power suit routine. Maybe meeting with a major law firm in a major market where you represent a large banking institution would be a good example. The opposite is also true. Meeting with the owner/operator of a concrete manufacturing plant at his construction trailer in the Midwest would certainly indicate an expectation of less formal attire.
Some of the larger brokerage firms require their agents to don formal business attire no matter what the circumstances, a policy that can have either good or not so good consequences. I was associated with such a firm and the policy was strictly enforced so the agents did not have a choice.
With the obvious exception of cases that would violate your brokerage firm’s policy, always choose business attire that is appropriate to the people and companies that you interact with on a daily basis. It just takes a bit of logical thought and planning. When in doubt, always dress a bit more professionally than you think you might need to. Consider the type of prospect, client, business, etc. you are meeting with and what type of attire is appropriate in their business. To a certain extent, be a chameleon. How you dress is one of the first things many prospects judge you on as they determine if you are worthy of earning their business. Think about the impression you want to make. Think about the venue and forum you will be meeting in and what other people might be in attendance or observing. Regardless of whether you find yourself wearing a suit and tie or khaki’s and a polo shirt, make sure your attire is clean, pressed and fits you properly. I know this sounds like common sense, but if you are reading this and have been in the business for a while, I’ll bet that you’ve run across agents in professional situations where you’ve looked at how they were dressed and thought “what the heck were you thinking?” Don’t be that agent. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on “power” suits, ties, dresses, etc. Be a smart shopper and look for deals in places like Macy’s, Steinmart and Marshalls. Decent stuff at very discounted prices. If you want to feel like you’re living the Gordon Gecko lifestyle and having custom made clothes is in your budget, check out http://www.princehenry.biz/ for a more affordable alternative to some of the higher priced custom clothiers in the U.S.
Commercial real estate brokerage is a prestigious business and you should dress like you are worthy of some professional respect. Just put a little thought into how you package yourself each day before heading out the door.