I ran into a friend and sometime client on Princess St. “You look spectacularly un-real-estate-y,” she told me. She was beaming. I had just ducked out of the office to buy a sandwich. I hadn’t thought much about what I was wearing. I had no meetings that day. It was all about sorting out the office, building some ads, making some plans. So I was kicking around in some rotten Blundstones, threadbare grey jeans, hoodie, black toque and parka, a scruffy beard. Someone you might stick, soft-focus, in the back of a North Face ad. Just a dark shape to add a little texture around the stars up front.
And I’m good with that. Happy to do most my work in the background. It’s what real estate is about, don’t you think? At root, we facilitate a pretty big change in people’s lives. But we get in and we get out with not too much fuss, hopefully. And in that sense maybe the get-up was about perfect: truth in advertising.
I’ve been lucky in this business. People trust me (a big thanks for that), and I feel useful. I’ve never really had to think very seriously about the dress code. I suppose when I started, some eleven years ago now, I was more uncertain. My office was in the city’s west end, where things are different. The blazers were more ubiquitous and more often dry-cleaned. There was the occasional tie, and even a couple of suits on standby. But those habits have steadily fallen away. And I think that if I showed up in pinstripes these days most of my clients would wonder what the hell I was up to.
Which isn’t say I’m completely oblivious. I realize that if I get out of the car for a first meeting and I’m in a T-shirt, sweat pouring down my face, muddy, I’m not likely to end up with a signed listing agreement. Same if the car itself is rusting out and sporting a Trump/Pence bumper sticker. There’s a line, is what I’m saying. And if I fall across it you'll stop calling. Fair enough. You should. But judging by my friend’s delighted greeting, I'm probably okay most days with the scruff and the boots. You get that it doesn't impact on the work. But that said, if the tentree cap ever gets swapped out for something Trumpish you'll know I've jumped some precipitous kerb and I'd appreciate it if you just slammed that door in my face. Or on it. Yeah, on it would be good.