Dressing for Business

While it’s always a good idea to be dressed professionally, being overdressed can make your potential clients feel inferior. This raises their defenses about wanting to buy anything from you. On the other hand, showing up drastically under-dressed for your potential client’s environment may cause them to dismiss you as not being serious about your career.

Champion salespeople are flexible. They keep clothing alternatives close at hand — either in their cars or in their offices. They not only consider the type of client they’ll be approaching but that client’s environment.

My best advice with regard to attire is to dress like the people your potential clients go to for advice. After all, that’s the role you want to portray with them–that of a professional advisor.

If your client meeting is in a high-rise building, dressing a bit on the more formal side would be appropriate. When meeting clients in their homes, a more casual approach would be fine.

The biggest faux pas I’ve seen or heard of include:

  • too much jewelry or jewelry that was distracting,
  • scuffed or unpolished shoes
  • shoes that don’t fit the rest of the outfi
  • untrimmed fingernails
  • anything dirty including hair, nails, teeth, briefcase, or paperwork
  • foul odors including too much cologne or perfume and any type of body odor especially cigarette smoke

If you’re meeting with them online through the use of a webcam, make certain that everything they see behind you supports your professional image. For example, you do not want to have a plant’s leaves sticking out from behind your head or worse yet, appearing to grow out of the top of your head. Pay attention to the sets and backgrounds of your favorite news programs. The backgrounds are relatively sparse to keep the focus on the presenter. You want to do the same thing.

It’s not necessary to invest a fortune in your professional clothing from season to season. Unless your market is the fashion field, stick with classic styles that can be updated with a change of accessories.

If you’re not comfortable selecting an appropriate wardrobe, consult with a friend, fellow associate or professional advisor. At the very least, watch a few of those television shows where they improve the professional looks of unsuspecting people. Their tips for how your clothing should fit properly for various body types are great.



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  1. Tom: About 34 years ago, I went to one of your seminars in Jackson, MS, I enjoyed it so much that I purchased the How to get Listings cassettes and the Selling cassettes. They helped me immensely, in fact, if it had not been for that seminar and those tapes I would have been a lost sheep in the dark. But here it is 2012, I have my own Real Estate business and am rocking and rolling. Last night I got those old tapes out of the closet and said to myself “I’m going to see what’s going on with Tom Hopkins”. I’m writing all this to tell you ….Thank you, Thank you for everything you have done and are presently doing for the selling profession. You are truly a talented and remarkable man. Thanks again, Susie

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