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Are You a Smart Casual or Business Casual?

Blog Contributor Helpful Tools, Professional Development 13 Comments

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Dolores Esanu

By Dolores Esanu

It’s 2013 and we’re revamping our lives and even our closets. Some things fit, some things don’t, and some we hope will fit again. In business, the thinly veiled line of what’s acceptable is becoming even more transparent. One hundred years ago, for a businessman, nothing less was expected than a tailored three-piece suit. Post-war American, working women wore sweater sets and full skirts, always past the knee.  The 1980s brought the “linebacker suits,” fully accompanied with the ever so flattering shoulder pads.

So what about today? In real estate, we can receive a call to show property only find ourselves trekking through 40 acres of muddy land. Business functions can even be challenging. A recent banquet invitation specifically stated “Business Formal,” and I went on to witness long formal gowns, pant suits, and even blue jeans!

Wondering If I’ve been guilty of these business fashion crimes, I begun to research. What is the definition of the main types of business attire? The list below confirmed my curiosity:

Business Casual – Men you can disregard the suit with this one, but you can’t put on jeans either. Polo, collared shirt, tucked in with khakis fit under this category. Ladies, you can sport anything from skirts, to dresses to dress pants with a button down or countless blouses.

Business Professional – Consider it one step above Business Casual.  Real estate may not see this as a norm very often. But careers involving finance or law may have this stricter dress code. Blazer and skirt or suit pants for women and suit with any color/print tie for the guys.

Business Formal – Guys, you can bring out the cuff links with this one, but a tux is not necessary. A dark colored suit and tie would be more than acceptable. Ladies can adorn a suit and skirt with heels, preferably closed or a conservative dress.

Smart Casual – Ah, the one us REALTORS® can relate to. Men can wear crewneck tees, sweaters, dark colored jeans and loafers. Ladies have an advantage as the options are greater. Tailored jeans, fun colored blouses; anything that is harmonious and pulled together would suffice.

Each office is different, each agent is different, and each day is different. Our attire can change drastically in a day due to the unpredictability. But isn’t this what makes our industry so exciting?

Dolores Esanu is a REALTOR@ and executive assistant for Trademark Real Estate in Hot Springs, Ark. Connect with her at: @doeesanu, www.trademarkrealestate.com, or doloresesanu@gmail.com

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Comments 13

  1. That’s a tough question, on the Cape we bring buyers around to look at high end properties and in the summer they may be in shorts and tanks, bathing suits with coverups or jeans and a t-shirt. I try to dress professional but on the other hand it would be easy to look foolishly over dressed…

  2. Great read. Most agents dont seem to understand the difference of being professional with what and how you do things verse thinking that you have to dress professional to suceed. Most days I dress smart casual with an occasional business casual but overall I dress for comfort. When you feel good you work good!

  3. I have a rule that I never look more casual than my clients. When I’m showing property, I want it to be obvious to anyone involved which one of us is “working”. Nothing I hate more than seeing a fellow real estate professional dressed like a complete slob. You don’t have to dress expensively to appear like you have your act together.

  4. Thank you for the article, I always keep a change of clothes at the office. You never know how your day will go! Get dressed to show homes in upscale neighborhoods, get a call from the Buyer needing to reschedule. The next call you get is showing farm and ranch, better to always be prepared!

  5. I like your post and agree that dressing in accordance with the environment you’ll be in is best. Whether its a suit for a meeting with an attorney or more causal for open land showings. Although I try to respect who I’m going to be around by dressing appropriately, my general rule is to be me! I almost always wear jeans (I’m that guy). But they’re always pressed, clean and fit well. I usually wear a pressed fitting dress shirt and comfortable shoes. What I do might not work for a lot of people, but I stay true and be me. I’m confident doing do and I think people pick up on that. Thanks for posting your article. It’s very well written 🙂

  6. Business Casual or Business Professional makes a great impression in our real estate market on Cape Cod, Mass., but some outliers run with the beach bum look in our resort & second home market and get away with it.

  7. No questions about it. A suit and tie is the only attire I wear. So many say they left the corporate world to never wear a tie again as if was a symbol of enslavement. I say that as agents we have a duty to represent ourselves as upper class. Just as you never see an attorney without a suit we, too should be proud to dress for success. Leave the casual stuff for the weekends. I love when clients see me out on the weekend off hours and say I did not recognize you without your suit. It is a compliment and a reflection of the power of my branding. Men…be a gentleman and wear a suit. Women…just stay beautiful with good taste.

  8. I would say that I was a business casual, but I have to become a smart casual. Wonderful article. Great insight into professional dressing. I think all colleges should introduce professional dress code classes for those in the professional degree programs.

  9. With 12 years of Real Estate under my belt working for the Top Companies..I feel professional dress is extremly important.
    Even if you are walking land or on a construction site…professional dress shows you are serious….

  10. There are some folks who cram up their business cards with all the information it can hold. This is not done, for a business card is business card and not sales literature. Let the additional info be there on your sales literature and keep the business card as simple as possible. This will ensure that the card will be able to pass across the information it was supposed to convey immediately. Would you rather want that the CEO of a reputed company scanned all through your business card just to find your contact information? A proper business card design should have as much `white space as possible on it. People should be able to access the necessary information immediately..

    My own, personal blog site

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