As anyone who works in the real estate market knows, looks matter. And it's not just the properties that clients are evaluating when they're out touring houses. With so many real estate professionals in the market, how a potential client decides on the agent that will represent them can often come down to the smallest factors that make them feel like their housing decisions will be in capable hands.
While you don't have to be a model agent (literally!) to secure the clients you want, putting forward a polished and professional appearance can be a first important step in making the best impression possible on potential clients and eventually in securing their business.
The following tips offer five easy ways that you can start focusing on your professional look - without breaking the bank.
- Keep pieces in your wardrobe that work well with each other
- Pay attention to how your shoes and accessories work with - or against - your professional look
- Prioritize spending on elements that will elevate your closet as a whole
- Professional appearance matters to your clients, and should matter to you!
1. Mix and Match
In the business casual world, it's easy to admire the guys: put on a pair of slacks and a collared shirt and you're out the door with an acceptable outfit, no thought required. While it may be an enviable approach - especially when you're running ten minutes late and digging through your closet to find the one matching sweater you just know is clean in there - there are advantages to the flexibility that women's business casual looks offer.
An easy formula for a business casual look is bottoms + blouse + cardigan. This can be changed up in countless ways to meet a variety of occasions year-round. In the summer, you can change out heavier dress pants for a knee-length skirt. Keep the skirt in the formula as it gets colder, but add a pair of black stockings to stay warm. Dress up the combination by adding a thin belt at your waist, or dress up a less expensive blouse with a nicer cardigan (we'll touch more on this idea later).
Obviously there are a number of ways to manipulate the formula above, but the factor to note in all of the examples mentioned is that although only one element is changing, you end up with a whole new outfit. This is not a new concept but it is an important one, especially in an industry where you might see clients repeatedly for weeks or months, depending on how picky they are!
Rather than having to worry about having a new outfit for every new meeting, buying a few key pieces that you can combine in different ways allows for reuse of the clothes you own without it feeling tired or repetitive, which means your wallet and your closet will thank you.
This flexibility also allows for you to pull a Superman and switch outfits on the go, which is a leg up in the ever-changing real estate industry. Keep a blazer hanging in your car or office. When you get a call from that high-profile client you've been hoping to hear from, or an alert for the meeting that you completely forgot about, you can change your cardigan out for the blazer to instantly look and feel prepared with no stress or scrambling to find options at the last minute or feeling underdressed for the occasion.
2. Shoes Matter
Photo by Kris Atomic / Unsplash
For certain people with meticulously curated shoe racks, this may sound like an inane statement. However, for every person with a shoe store's worth of inventory, there is another who is pairing the same pair of Birkenstocks they've had since 1999 with their business casual apparel at the office every day. No matter how casual the office, there are certain shoe rules that usually apply.
In most situations, it is prudent as a real estate professional to have stylish but practical shoe options. Similar to having a backup blazer, it can be beneficial to keep a pair of flats or sneakers handy - especially if you usually stick to dressier shoes or heels in your day-to-day wear. That way, a request to tour a house under construction or a broken heel halfway through your day can be taken in stride. Since appearance to clients and potential clients is so vital in the industry, it can often quite literally pay when you can come off as capable and prepared in all situations.
3. Be Smart with Your Accessories
Photo by STIL / Unsplash
Accessories are the one part of an outfit that can be worn for days in a row, go with most any other outfit choices, and can be easy and inexpensive to integrate into your wardrobe - so use them! Most people have some jewelry that they wear every day, whether it's a wedding ring or a favorite watch. While another seemingly small piece in an overall outfit, when used with purpose accessories can pull an entire look together - and make you appear more pulled together to your clients.
Think back to the last time you saw a woman on the street and thought, “Wow, she's got it all together.” It usually isn't because of a specific dress or pair of shoes, but the coordination of everything in her appearance - maybe a matching bag, a nice pair of earrings, a set of perfectly painted nails, a stylish scarf. Clients are looking to entrust you with some of the most important things in their lives - their finances and their homes. So while it may seem silly to focus on such small matters of appearance, wouldn't you rather rely on someone that looks like they have their own life together with your important business?
This is not to say that you can't appear trustworthy and capable to potential clients without an expensive bag and a brand new manicure. In fact, there are more options than ever to add inexpensive accessories to your wardrobe with relatively little cost or effort. Etsy.com offers a staggering amount of vintage or handmade accessories for sale. These can vary in price depending on the seller and product, but with some searching you can find unique pieces for reasonable prices from sellers across the globe.
While it isn't usually the first place people think about for headbands, belts, or jewelry, another upcoming option for inexpensive accessories is Amazon.com. In the same way that deals can be found on home supplies and entertainment hardware, Amazon has literally millions of options for a variety of outfit additions. As long as you read the reviews to make sure you understand what you're buying, the same convenience and speed that online shopping now offers can be applied to your accessory purchases.
4. Put Money on What Matters
Photo by freestocks.org / Unsplash
Above, we've discussed ways that you can stretch your budget with regards to outfit choices. However, there are some things in your wardrobe that you should spend money on, and doing so can even save you cash in the long term. Some of the obvious pieces are shoes, and winter coats and boots if you live in a climate where you need them. Spending some money on these key pieces can set you up for years without having to worry about replacing or repairing them over and over.
However, there are other factors to take into account when deciding how best to apply your budget to your professional appearance. First, pay attention to what you're wearing every day. Are you constantly reaching for a specific blouse or sweater? Think about why you like it, and then search for those elements in other pieces. If you know that you like v-neck shirts with your cardigans or that you feel the best in a certain cut of dress, spend money on those pieces with the knowledge that you'll get good use out of them. While it can't hurt to try new things, spending your hard-earned commission check on something only to have it sit in the back of your closet after one wear - when you realized you actually hate scoop-neck shirts or that the shade of orange you bought makes you feel like a highlighter - is never as satisfying as having a good-quality piece that you can wear again and again.
By choosing to spend more money on certain pieces, you can also create an overall higher quality appearance if you shop strategically. If you buy one item that looks and feels more expensive, make sure it's something that you can mix and match, as discussed above, with other pieces you already own. This way, your high quality pieces can pull up the look of other wardrobe elements you already own.
No matter your budget or sense of style, employing these tips, along with a sincere smile and sense of professionalism, can only serve to further your goals and improve your relationships with potential and existing clients.
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