Something I've been thinking about recently is what constitutes appropriate business attire. Fashion has never been my thing. I'm not interested in the latest label or designer. I don't wear expensive shoes or jewelry. When I'm on my own time, you'll usually find me in jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers or sandals topped off with my favorite cap. That's how I feel most comfortable.
When I'm showing houses, I usually wear jeans, sneakers and a polo shirt with my logo embroidered on the front. This conversation came up among some of my real estate agent colleagues recently and I was intrigued to find out some of them felt like they had to dress to a certain expectation in order to impress clients. Frankly, I find it more important to be skilled and knowledgeable about my profession, but there seems to be a heavy importance placed on dress as well.
To put on a pair of khakis makes me feel less authentic—like I'm trying to be someone I'm not. You won’t likely find me in a suit at the closing table either. I only put on the suit and tie for a funeral; weddings don't get a tie. I hate ties—I only own three.
Several of my clients have told me repeatedly that they enjoy the fact that I dress more casual. They are at ease and comfortable knowing that I'm not attempting to show out for them to earn their respect. Some have been surprised when I showed up to closing in a suit jacket, even though I’ve paired it with jeans and sneakers.
I'm not a fan of gender roles and I don't think men have to wear a suit and tie to be considered professionally presentable. Nor do I think women have to wear skirts, hose and heels. In fact, I've seen some women who obviously think they are dressed professionally for work who look more like streetwalkers. The skirts are too tight and short and the heels too high. They are also typically wearing far too much makeup. I also see men wearing pleated pants and ill-fitting suits.
Most of the time, these people look, to me, as if they've been playing dress up in Mommy and Daddy's closet. There is no sense of personal style; instead, they opt for looking just like everyone else. Me, I'm just not a slave to fashion. Or so I thought.
I watched The Devil Wears Prada recently and something Meryl Streep's character, fashion editor Miranda Priestly, said struck me. I'm quoting the passage here:
"Miranda: This ... stuff? Oh ... OK. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean. You're also blindly unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St. Laurent, wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff."
I wonder if I could have been in Andrea's shoes, the character Meryl was speaking to. I'm not sure. You see, I don't understand how clothing attains the status of fashionable and I certainly don't think the clothes make the man, or woman.
So how do I reconcile this with my business? I should be presenting myself to my clients, not the version of me that I think they want to see, but the real me. The guy who feels most comfortable in his favorite jeans and sneakers. That’s just who I am.
So I’d like to know: Does the way a person dresses affect whether or not you would hire him or her to sell your home or assist in your purchase? What about a hairstyle or color? Facial hair on men?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
iDeal Real Estate Professionals LLC is owned and operated by Brandon Bramlett and C. Mark Willix and is affiliated with Maximum One Realty Greater Atlanta. For personalized service, visit us at www.idealrealestateprofessionals.com. You can also email us at email@example.com.