Ever since I started working in the real estate industry, I have always been made aware that the business’ and the agent’s image is projected through my professional appearance. Just as much as how well you communicate, how knowledgeable you are about the property you are selling, and your reputation (well, the latter doesn’t seem to matter to some agents especially in the Australian cities of Sydney or Melbourne, who are known to openly lie and underquote), some clients will judge you by your appearance.
So before one even talks about customer service or going the extra mile, first impressions matter when meeting with potential clients in this competitive and challenging real estate market. From a scheduled client meeting to an open house to a networking cocktail reception to a public exhibition of a new property sale project/ launch, most real estate agents always get “dressed up”.
Of course, getting “dressed up” is always easier for men than women: a well cut conservative and neutral coloured (such as navy or charcoal-grey) suit, a crisp white button shirt and a tie, and simple accessories such as a Swiss watch and monogrammed cuff links usually complete the look.
Women, meanwhile, have to content with challenges of options: skirt or slacks? Blouse or shirt? Sleeveless or sleeved top? A dress vs a skirt suit vs pant suit? If it is a dress or skirt there is then the choice of style and length: how short is too short a hemline? Is a fitted dress or skirt too tight? And then there are the colours: conservative vs neutral vs bright colours? And this is even before the considerations of shoes and accessories: High heels vs kitten heels vs dressy flats vs classic wedges? Heel height? Shoes colour? And make-up? How much is too much make-up? Is the shade of nail polish and lipstick appropriate? In short there is so much to consider and there is a fine line between sufficiently keeping up with current fashion trends versus maintaining a professional image.
So what should a young woman like myself do?
I know some of my colleagues turn to looking at how other female real estate agents dress and the end result is almost like one-upmanship fashion run-way war: last week the young blonde woman at the agency across the road selling an apartment in the same building as another apartment which our agency holds the listing for turns up at her open house in a new $310.00 CUE Belted Pencil Dress. The very same afternoon my colleague went to the shops after work and bought herself similarly unmistakeably CUE dress, this one a slightly more expensive $355.00 Floral Satin Pencil Dress. And at the next open house on Saturday the two competing agents jealously eye each other in their respective CUE dresses while trying their hardest to compete for clients and buyer’s attention in this competitive and challenging real estate market.
I don’t necessarily want to be drawn into this arms-race of the dresses of sorts (although I must admit it is at times unavoidable and even the level headed Natalie myself had been drawn into one) because I don’t want my entire fortnightly paycheck to go into a new outfit every week to compete with other women (not unless someone else funds it, that is): Consider this, the new CUE Belted Pencil Dress may be only $310.00 but there are also shoes, accessories, make-up, nails, etc etc. They all add up, and add up pretty quickly (therefore a revelation for prospective clients: when you pay a real estate agent to sell your property the reason why our commissions are five or six figures is because you are paying for our wardrobe and the expensive cars real estate agents drive).
Turning to online forums and internet for tips, it seems what a young woman like myself should do can be summarised in the following tip: When you need to look like a successful businessperson, either dress conservatively or follow fashion trends. Some go as far as to suggest that a good idea to keep up with current fashion trends is to read Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Vogue. Which isn’t a problem for me: I go through tonnes of those when getting my hair styled at my hairdresser’s every 3 weeks.
At the end of the day, though, it has to be a balance. The balance between sufficiently keeping up with current fashion trends versus maintaining a professional image versus looking better than that blonde bitch at the real estate agency across the road versus not spending all my paycheck on my outfit.
We are holding the listing for a fantastic city apartment which we will be auctioning at the end of the marketing campaign of weekly open house attracting perspective purchasers to the home. So I have decided to post my OOTD look at every open house, every week, for the upcoming listing which I will be working with until the ending with the auction day.
Readers can let me know if my look is a hit, or a miss. I am excited and looking forward to this! 🙂