How to Dress the Part
By Zoe Wilde, New Zealand Real Estate Magazine,
Somewhere along the line a person coined the phrase 'dress for
the job you want, not for the job you've got.'
That person knew the truth about how people relate
to others in a business sense. They realised that image is very
important, and that those around you take stock of how you present
yourself and judge you accordingly.
Susan Axford is an image consultant. Formerly
fashion editor with the New Zealand Herald, she now runs Your Style,
and helps those who need a bit of assistance with looking great.
Her definition of image isn't about being self-obsessed,
she explains. But if you have the right wardrobe, and a hairstyle
to suit your face, you can leave home with confidence knowing you
look good and concentrate on doing your job.
Susan says that it takes less than seven seconds
to make a first impression. Once set, it's hard work to re-make
that impression, so better to get it right the first time.
"For most people, their home is the biggest
financial commitment they will ever make. They want to deal with
somebody who appears reliable and successful. When somebody is well-groomed
you get a sense of professionalism about them."
Susan says that you don't need to spend
a lot to look a million bucks, so long as you have the right wardrobe
systems in place to support you.
The most expensive things in our wardrobe, she
says, are the items that we don't wear, such as the mistakes - things
that we buy and then never put them on.
That can add up to big dollars. But if you have
garments that function well together, your wardrobe will work for
you, and it won't break the bank.
What should real estate professionals bear in
mind when planning their wardrobe?
Susan herself says she visited hundreds of open
homes in the course of buying her own property. Some agents wore
suits and ties, others were casually dressed.
Both dress codes are equally relevant. What is
more important is attention to detail. "Look after your clothes
in the same way you keep your house upgraded," advises Susan.
In real estate, she says it's likely you are seeing
different people all the time. Therefore, you can get away with
a smaller range of items that fit well, are flattering, and in a
good state of repair.
Susan believes that a jacket is a really key piece
for women and men. "It makes you look like you've dressed for
Susan also advises that clothes should generally
be neither loose or tight - they should skim the body. "When
women put on a bit of weight they often make the mistake of wearing
layers of floaty garments, and that can be aging. It is better to
wear clothes that just skim the body, certainly not tight, that
is a no no."
Image and appearance is far more than the clothes
you are wearing. "Your handshake, posture and eye contact are
equally important to present a professional image."
Most importantly, she says is do things that fit
in with your lifestyle. "Nobody has time to spend hours in
the bathroom, so make sure your hair and make up is simple. Learn
the short cuts."
Men should pay particular attention to their extremities
- shoes, fingernails, and hair. A well-ironed shirt and a smart
pair of trousers are a great start, although hairy-chested men should
make sure their shirts aren't gaping.
If you are a flamboyant person, then you will
be able to dress flamboyantly. "But if you haven't got the
personality, be careful - you won't wear it well. You must be comfortable
with you look."
Susan would have to agree that fashion trends
are great - she made her living as fashion editor of the New Zealand
Herald for eleven years. But she says you do not need to follow
the trends if they do not suit your body shape.
"Just modify the trends to suit you,"
she says, advising those on tight budgets to purchase classical
pieces such as pants and jackets in neutral colours that will look
excellent for years. "But never skimp on jackets or a classic
Susan perceives that the move to more casual dress
in the workplace has caused some confusion. However, even on Dress
Fridays people should dress appropriately. That means covering up
and avoiding the likes of shoestring straps, but it doesn't mean
being boring. "You can still wear interesting colours and patterns,
but not beachwear," explains Susan.
Susan has dressed hundreds of people. Her services
include analysing people's wardrobe to see what is working, where
the gaps are and fresh ways of putting garments together or taking
you shopping (or bringing clothes to you if required) to ensure
that your wardrobe meshes with they way you like to live.
"Shopping with a professional trained dresser
is different from with a friend," she explains. "A dress
consultant will determine what works for your body shape, colouring,
personality, job, and work within your budget."
Remember, as a real estate professional you are
marketing a product - yourself - to potential customers. Will dressing
properly get you the listing or the sale? Maybe not. But it will
give you a competitive edge and a positive first impression.
Grooming Tips for Real Estate Professionals
- You don't necessarily need a suit, but a jacket will give you
- Never skimp on jackets or classic pieces such as a white shirt
- Take care with your nails - no chipped nail polish or dirty
- Apply makeup with a light hand - get good advice on how to do
this if required
- If you are wearing hosiery, ensure your shoes have a closed
toe. Sandals are okay in summer, providing they suit the mood
of the outfit.
- Open necked shirts are fine - just ensure they aren't gaping,
particularly if you have a hairy chest
- Shoes are particularly important for men - ensure they are kept
clean and not down at heel
- Learn how to deliver a confident, hand shake
- Keep your hair trimmed - make a regular appointment with a barber
To contact Susan Axford, telephone 0508 YOUR STYLE