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Dress to impress! Veteran agent says banning ties is knot the answer

A veteran estate agent has got hot under the collar about a London firm which has ordered its negotiators and other staff to not wear ties.

David Alexander, a long-standing property management agent and now joint managing director of Apropos, says the current trend towards informality is not necessarily right for all aspects of the industry.

Last week Estate Agent Today broke the news that London agency James Pendleton had ordered its staff not to wear ties, describing them as “old school” and no longer good for business. To demonstrate the point, agency founder Lee Pendleton posed for photographs cutting staff ties in two.


But now David Alexander says: “I have worn a suit and tie to work every day for nearly 40 years and I believe that it makes you feel confident, assured, and helps your clients to feel comfortable and reassured that they are dealing with a professional who will help them achieve their desires.”

And he adds that those who dress casually are not being ’neutral’ but are encouraging clients to form an opinion of them. 

“If a waiter approaches you in a restaurant with dirty hands and fingernails in a tattered t-shirt and trainers, you will definitely form an opinion about what sort of experience you are about to have” he says.

Alexander says that whatever the dress code, service is paramount - but he insists that there are certain jobs where a stricter dress sense is required, and agency is one of them.

“When you are dealing in property either selling or renting you are helping people to make an enormous decision in their lives: which property they are going to make their home. If you are speaking to landlords and investors you are asking individuals and groups to make major financial decisions and a certain sober-suited gravitas helps in such situations. 

“It is not that casual wear is wrong in all circumstances but there is still a place, I believe, for suits and ties and smart dress.

“To paraphrase the title of the new Bond movie, many may feel there is ‘No time to tie’ but I believe certain roles require a certain dress code and we need to make time to dress appropriately.”

  • Michael Riley

    Surely a cravat is the answer. The upside is you'll be distinctive, comfortable and dashing.

    The downside is that in some rougher parts of town they may have some flowery language for you.

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    “with dirty hands and fingernails”. Not really a fair comparison. If an estate agent in a shirt and tie approaches a client with dirty hands and fingernails I’m sure the same opinion will be formed. I haven’t worn a tie for years and have not experienced any problems. I certainly wouldn’t turn up in tattered jeans etc. Smart is smart, whether tie or no tie! I do, however, regularly wash my hands!

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    I agree with dressing smart but I believe an agent can be professional without a tie if they want. Let’s leave it to the staff to choose their own comfort. Owners/managers must make sure their staff are professional, well trained and educated to a high standard in order to perform their duties and gain the trust of the client.

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    Dress for the part. As its a professional role you perform then dress professionally.

  • Mike Lewis

    I used to sport a bow tie but these days I always wear the suit and tie when meeting a new client, thereafter it will depend upon how they themselves dress. However on those days when I am confined to the office then it’s jeans and a good quality shirt but no need for a tie.

    David Robinson

    It's a good job you don't advise Speedos on the acquisition of their retail units!

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    I do not mind staff not wearing ties but if you look at one of the pictures in the link above I don't think buttons undone with his chest hanging out looks particularly great

    Lee James  Pendleton

    Oh please!

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    Unless the weather is excessively hot I've always worn a suit and tie (or on a casual day, slacks, blazer and tie). If the clients see an agent who isn't prepared to present themselves appropriately then said client may well assume that the approach to work may be slovenly too.

    It takes no effort to be seen as well presented and helps to earn the client's respect.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Find this debate fascinating- largely because JP has only got rid of ties so will still be wearing smart shows, trousers, shirt and jackets- barely what I would call a casual approach. In contrast, our staff wear jeans, trainers and often t-shirts which we might sometimes swap out for a shirt of some description (in my case something loud and short-sleeved). Whilst first impressions count somewhat, how are you creating a worthy first impression on look- if you look the same as every other agent they meet? Whilst a cleint may be surprised by a more casual approach we have found this usually makes them more relaxed and open, leading to a more candid and realistic valuation- and any concerns of 'professionalism' are shorlt resolved when the knowledge and expereince that you expound makes the suits in before you look like amateurs. We have always let our staff wear what they feel comfortable working in- for some (I think just 2 in 15 years) that has been suits and thats fine. If you staff feel comfortable and happy then this is conveyed when meeting clients.


    Very refreshing reading this Kristjan. I totally agree that staff should wear what they feel comfortable in and always believe that if you feel comfortable in yourself, you will perform better and with more confidence anyway. Sadly, I still have to be suited though, ties are becoming a thing of the past... I have tried several times to introduce a new dress code but the director here just worries too much about what other people think and I am yet to fully win them over. Watch this space.

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    Me Personally have not worn a tie for about 5 years in a professional capacity this has not hindered my ability to offer the professional service my clients expect, wearing a tie does not make you a good agent just as wearing a £300 pair of footy boots turn you ino a gareth Bale.

    Your ability to meet your clients expectations put your client at ease is down too knoledge and experience not the clothes on your back, each to their own, old school agency is ok for old school clients but these are slowly being replaced by the prop tech generation who have never worn suits or been part of the elite establisment , times are changing and this industry needs to replace the regimented stuffyness and move in to the real world. .

  • Lee James  Pendleton

    Businesses evolve or they become like the dinosaurs

  • Sam Samuel

    "I have worn a suit and tie to work for nearly 40 years...." Well there we have it :-))



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