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How real estate agents can dress for success in the summer


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Summer is finally here after what seemed like an eternity of cold, but just like the median sale price of a Manhattan condo, temperatures are rising.

Real estate agents all over the country are faced with the challenge of looking cool, calm and collected, even when feeling like we’re toeing the equator. So, what should real estate agents wear during the summer?

Every market faces unique temperature challenges, and niche sub-markets require an agent’s wardrobe to reflect the type of home being sold or the lifestyle the buyer is pursuing.

Glenn Phillips of Lake Homes Realty in Alabama said on Inman Coast to Coast, “We focus on lake real estate. Our agents can’t represent the ‘lake lifestyle’ in business attire.”

Golf shirts, shorts and khakis are common, as are shoes that won’t slip getting on a boat, dock or walking down the water. To wear a suit looks odd and can even prevent clients from relaxing — as if they underdressed for the meeting.

In my own experience, wearing a full suit on the muggy and crowded New York City subway during peak summer heat isn’t a viable option, regardless of the property or client lifestyle!

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All things considered, there isn’t a blanket answer to the question of what all real estate agents should wear during the summer, so the key is to be smart with our styling so we can make attractive and professional impressions on our clients — ideally ones that don’t involve sweat stains!

Here are some quick tips to stay cool this summer while showing your listings.

1. Choose color wisely

We all know everyone looks great in black, but black is not your summer friend! Black absorbs the most light of any color and creates the most heat, so it’s wise to avoid black clothing on sunny days.

Similarly, other colors to avoid if you’re trying to stay cool are dark shades of blue, purple and green.

Lighter is better during summer months, as lighter colors don’t attract the sun as much. Traditional summer colors such as white, camel, beige and light shades of gray, blue and earth tones will help keep your body cool and your summer tolerable!

If you have a signature color like Sue Benson (The Pink Lady of Real Estate) of Re/Max Dream in Florida, you can always find a shade that’s appropriate for the season. Benson’s style dictates a dress that’s fashionable but cool, sleeveless and pink, she said in the Inman contributors Facebook group.

If Benson wants to tweak her pink style for summer, she could always switch her punch-colored dresses out for something blush!

2. Don’t let your fabric choice weigh you down

Loosely woven fabrics like cotton and linen are a summer must!

Cotton is one of the most versatile fabrics in the world, but more importantly, it’s one of the most breathable.

Cotton fibers are hollow, which allows them to absorb sweat and release it quickly. This not only allows air to pass through the fibers but also keeps the body cooler by drying sweat.

Linen is also one of my favorite summer fabric options! It’s incredibly lightweight and a better conductor of heat than cotton, which makes it the most breathable fabric available and an excellent addition to any summer wardrobe.

3. Remember, a tight fit may not be the right fit

Due to the sheer amount of garment types there are to choose from, women in particular have to take fit into consideration.

For solid daytime professional looks, women could look for day dresses that don’t cling to the body, wide-leg trousers or even a tailored (but still loose) jumpsuit or romper.

These options will support airflow while keeping the fabric away from the skin, also ensuring clothes don’t cling due to sweat.

If your outfit or style calls for a tighter fit, look for pieces with eyelets in the design. This will create airflow even when the fabric is against the skin.

Men have less options when it comes to fit because we tend to look sloppier the looser our clothes get. Sloppy is a choice; sweaty is not — pick your battles. Sorry, guys!

4. Be confident above all else

When meeting a client or going on a pitch, confidence is your most important accessory, so wear clothes that make you feel supported and attractive.

Don’t experiment with your style or make drastic image changes before a big pitch or initial client meeting because it can take weeks to build confidence in a new appearance.

Although we don’t want to sweat, we also want to avoid tugging at our clothes or feeling unsure about how we look. Stick with what you know makes you feel great, at least for the important stuff!

Edward Hutchinson of Hutchinson Johnstone Partners Trust in California said in an email, “For me psychologically, my suit is my armor. I know when I have it on, I can focus on mentally and verbally engaging, and I’m not thinking about or second guessing what the client thinks of my appearance.”

I couldn’t agree more. Your focus should always be on the client’s needs, not what you or your client think about your outfit.

However, you can feel confident even when you’re not wearing formal attire.

Dustin Brohm of Salt Lake City Real Estate is an advocate of the more casual approach to summer agent style. “My daily ‘uniform’ is jeans, nice casual shoes and a V-neck T-shirt. I don’t own a suit,” he said.

If you adhere to my formula of color plus fabric plus fit plus confidence equals summer agent comfort, your wardrobe might become a bit two-dimensional.

Compromise when you can to create diversity! The only non-negotiable component is confidence.

Joshua Juneau a senior real estate specialist at Triplemint in Manhattan. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

Email Joshua Juneau

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