Most people don't think much about how they're perceived when it comes to wardrobe choices when car shopping. In fact, all too often, it's not even factored in at all by the car shopper, and they'll head into a dealership wearing pajama pants and a pair of Uggs. Ugh. But you can't exactly go in dressed to the nines, unless you're buying a Ferrari. So, what are the best guidelines for what to wear when you go car shopping? Let's give you a couple of pointers.

It Depends on What You're Buying

family at car dealership
Sloppy t-shirts and torn jeans don't give the best impression. The kid's the best dressed here.

Most folks want a great deal, regardless of what they're buying. But you'll want to give off a different vibe if you're buying an econobox versus a high-priced luxury automobile. The rules don't always apply the same way. When shopping for something affordable, you want to look responsible and mature but not seriously well-off. If you go to purchase an $80,000 premium sports car, you'll want to look very respectable so you're treated well. Keep in mind the kind of clientele each brand serves, and dress accordingly. 

Too Casual is Bad

shorts couple

Everyone likes to be comfortable, especially if you're going to spend hours at the dealership. But think about how you perceive others. What happens if you go to a lunch meeting, and someone is wearing sweatpants and an ill-fitting, faded t-shirt? You tend to treat them a bit differently, even if you're unaware that you're doing it. So, you're about to spend thousands of dollars on a big purchase at the car dealership, so think about what you want to communicate.

  • Avoid shorts, t-shirts, activewear, and definitely do NOT wear pajamas.
  • Ripped jeans may seem stylish, but they tend to look sloppy. Even if your outfit is casual, err on the side of looking put together.
  • Don't wear your car brand fan-boy clothing. A huge Ford logo on your shirt when you're going to get an F-150 might send the wrong message.
  • Open toed shoes, especially on men, is the wrong way to go. 

Modest and Clean Are the Rules of Thumb

smart dressed couple
Crisp without being overstyled is your best bet.

It's a good guideline to dress neatly. That doesn't mean dressing up in a suit and tie, and it should not equate to looking flashy. Think about how you dress to your place of work. Keep things clean and tidy. Make sure your clothing has been washed, and be well-groomed, too. Shave, brush your teeth, and comb your hair. 

It's also a good rule to keep things modest. Don't wear anything really expensive or fancy. You want to make a good impression, but you don't want to look like you can afford the highest price they'll offer. If you look affluent, the dealer will smell it a mile away and will likely be less willing to bargain with you. 

  • For Men: a button-up shirt that's been cleaned and pressed, slacks or dark jeans. A casual blazer is fine, too, but don't wear a suit jacket. No expensive jewelry and no worn out shoes.
  • For Women: a button-up blouse or conservative top with a casual blazer or jacket. Nice or slacks. Avoid fancy jewelry or handbags that are noticeably pricey brand names. Keep the dressy heels at home.

Finally, keep in mind that what you wear isn't a guarantee that you'll get the best price (or the worst, for that matter). You can't substitute all that for doing your car shopping homework, getting your finances in order, and generally being prepared to negotiate for your best price. 

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