By Holly Dutton
In a city where the biggest the best fashion labels in the world are headquartered, it’s no surprise that residential real estate agents look to be at the top of their game when it comes to dressing the part.
Real estate agents like Frederik Ekulund and Luis Ortiz, who star on reality TV show Million Dollar Listing New York, are known for looking impeccably dapper in tailored suits and pocket squares.
A 2012 study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University found that people who dressed up for a role actually performed better.
With New York City just having experienced its annual September fashion week, and with many more cities across the globe hosting their own, Big Apple brokers from top firms tell Brokers Weekly about the importance of dressing the part.
“For me, fashion indirectly or directly affects you,” said Sofia Corradini, a broker with Citi Habitats. “We’re in a city where beauty sells. I stay conscious of trends, colors, the seasons; they definitely effect our marketing, or how we decorate or stage an apartment. I’m a believer in that.”
While recognizing the importance of keeping abreast of the latest fashion and design trends, Corradini also makes sure to stay true to herself and her own personal style.
“I don’t like to be a slave to fashion,” she said. “I think we still need to keep our authenticity and our style, but it’s definitely something that has to be present.
“There’s definitely competition and expectation as a real estate agent on how you need to look. Hopefully, you’re in an office with people who motivate each other and aren’t competing too much with each other.”
Residential real estate is all about making an impression — both with the home that a broker is hoping to sell or buy, and the agent themselves.
“When I leave the house, I’m always dressed for business, no matter what’s on my schedule,” said David Dubin, a broker with Corcoran. “I think it shows a certain respect to customers and clients. I represent them, and it would be disrespectful not to show up dressed well.”
Dubin said Corcoran does have a dress code, which prohibits brokers from dressing too casually, say in flip flops and jeans.
“I just take a lot of interest in my appearance, and I’ve always been that way and it’s not going to change,” he said. “I think clients appreciate it. It shows you’re serious, it shows you’re professional.”
Lawrence Rich, a longtime broker with Douglas Elliman who owned his own fashion line prior to becoming a broker, says always looking polished and tastefully dressed is part of the job — and so is knowing your client.
“Everyone has a way of making themselves stand out and I do that through fashion,” said Rich. “There are 4,000 brokers in our company — If you want to stand out, you’ve got to do something. I usually wear bow-ties.”
Rich recalled a recent Douglas Elliman event when he wore a bright orange bow-tie, and the firm’s CEO Dottie Herman took notice and complimented his attire.
“I have a background in fashion, so I like to be whimsical and wear fun shoes and striped or patterned socks,” he said.
“Every day, I think about who my customer is and who I’m showing an apartment to and I dress accordingly,” he said. “If I show something on Park Avenue, I wear a black suit and tie. If I go down to Tribeca, and it’s a young person, I don’t even wear a tie. I try to dress according to the circumstances of the day.”
Allison Dubuisson, who is also a broker with Douglas Elliman, agrees.
“I think you have to find a way to connect to your client and what you wear is actually an important way to connect with them,” Dubuisson told Broker’s Weekly. “I’ve had clients comment on my bag or shoes and ask where I got them.”
She added that not only was it an ice breaker, sometimes it can turn a stranger into a client. “I’ve met people in cafes who commented on my clothes or bag and then they later became a client.”
Dubuisson describes her own style as classic and professional, and never flashy. “You have to have good accessories; you have to have a good bag, and shoes,” she said. “People can be turned off by a broker’s clothes. If they looked like they just got out of bed or are too casual, it doesn’t give you the feeling that this person is taking care of themselves, you need to be put together.
“I always wear a blazer, always. The blazer gives the impression that you’re a business mover and shaker. And my nails are always done. And I’m neat.
“How I take care of myself in a way reflects how I will take care of them and their transaction. If I’m meticulous and organized in my own appearance, they’re comfortable.”
As important as what one wears can be to an agent’s job and success, having the right attitude to match is a part of it, too.
“It’s not just what you wear, but your attitude,” said Dubuisson. “You have to have a positive attitude. We have a tough job, we have to be problem solvers and turn everything into an opportunity and make everything positive.”
Michael Comandini, a broker with Citi Habitats, believes your appearance as an agent is the most important thing.
“For me, I always treat the way I look as number one,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’re selling yourself.”
Comandini likes to be consistent with what he wears, and makes a point to “always dress like I can afford the apartment I’m selling.
“It helps your business, and builds credibility,” he said. “I feel like clients will trust your opinion and what you have to say.”