Dress codes out of fashion

Brokers left to themselves to determine best on-the-job wardrobes

Feb.February 02, 2015 07:00 AM

Meet a dozen brokers and you’re likely to encounter nearly that number of standards for work attire. Few NYC firms enforce a written dress code, relying instead on best judgment.

A handful offer guidelines. For instance, Brooklyn-based aptsandlofts.com discourages sneakers and shorts for men, along with midriffs and skirts shorter than just above the knee for women. But for the most part, it’s up to individuals to set their own standards.

And while most brokers agree that having fashion sense is an unspoken prerequisite for success, they split on whether it should reflect the status of their clients.

“If you want to sell million dollar apartments, you have to look like a million dollars,” said Dvir Atias of Nest Seekers International. But while Atias pulls out a full suit for million dollar-plus listings, he will wear corduroys or jeans with a blazer for rental clients.

Zach Gutierrez of Urban Compass also tries to meet a client’s comfort level — a suit jacket for a client from BlackRock, say, but chinos for a recent graduate. “People can relate to others who mirror them, not just physically, but in the way that they speak,” he said. 

Chelsea Werner of Bold New York will also cater to the client, for instance wearing more casual apparel like dark jeans and a fun scarf or hat when working with younger renters. 

Others say the age and status of the client shouldn’t matter.

Linda Stillwell of Brown Harris Stevens likes to break out a leather blazer when showing a Downtown property, but won’t otherwise vary her look. “Whether it is a celebrity or a businessperson, I think they enjoy that I am acting as my own person.” Among Stillwell’s high-profile clients are “The View” host Rosie O’Donnell and New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon.

Tinnie Chan Sassano of Urban Compass, who favors tailored shapes and a neutral palette, said dressing casually is a client’s prerogative, but their attire won’t influence her style.

Pocket square devotee Paul LeMarc Brown of Stribling & Associates summed up the philosophy of consistency: “You’re there as an adviser to them, so I would think that the more professional you dress, the more at ease they would be.”

Personal grooming also sends an important message.

Gutierrez, for instance, recommends manicures — even for men. 

“It’s something that shows you’re detail-oriented,” he said. “Ryan Serhant was a hand model.”


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