For New York City real estate brokers, “dress for success” is more than a saying.
Choosing the right style of clothing signals competence and savvy to clients, brokers said, and the appropriate attire varies widely depending on the neighborhood.
Brokers who work on the Upper East Side — traditionally the city’s most exclusive, conservative neighborhood — dress in polished, classic clothes, according to Elizabeth Stribling, the founder of the eponymous residential brokerage.
“One should always look professional,” Stribling said. “For me, a beautiful designer suit presents oneself as someone who hopefully has a mark of success, and therefore, of confidence.” Proper attire signals that a broker will put great thought and consideration into a deal, she added.
Similarly, no self-respecting male broker would be caught dead north of 59th Street without a suit, with most choosing traditional cuts and colors.
“If I know I’m going to show [on] Park or Madison or Fifth, I’m definitely wearing a suit,” said Lawrence Rich of Elliman, noting that he often opts for pinstripes or gray flannel.
Below 34th Street, however, suits come in more daring colors, “cut a little shorter, [and] fit a little tighter,” said Kane Manera of Elliman.
In the East Village and on the Lower East Side, however, the rules change drastically.
Christa Lawrence, a Bond New York broker and longtime East Village resident, describes her on-the-job style as “leather and chunky, heavy-duty silver jewelry.” Her boss Douglas Wagner, executive director of leasing at Bond, described her as “the rock-and-roll girl,” an image she happily embraces.
“I think if I showed up wearing all Lilly Pulitzer, they’d be like, ‘Who is this person, and why is she trying to convince me to live here?’” Lawrence said. “When you see me, you’re like, ‘Oh, okay, Downtown chick.’”
Beyond conveying the vibe of a neighborhood, the clothes brokers choose can help clients relate to them. Financiers identify with a broker in a basic suit, for example, while a Downtown gallerist may breathe a sigh of relief at colorful skirts and funky lines.
“There’s something to be said for human beings liking others with a similar mindset, similar creative ideals,” Manera said. “Like attracts like.”