First published in the Los Angeles Business Journal
Sally Forster Jones, executive director of luxury estates for Compass real estate in Beverly Hills, occupies a fourth-floor-view office on Wilshire Boulevard. But when it comes to personal style, this high-end real estate broker would be right at home strolling down nearby Rodeo Drive.
Her impeccable designer wardrobe represents a roll call of most of the names that loom large on that world-renown luxury shopping strip: Dior, Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo, Hermès and Fendi, to name a few.
Forster Jones said her clothing choices represent as much a personal statement as a reflection of what might be expected by her clients, a rarefied group, indeed. She is perhaps best known for representing the (Aaron) Spelling Manor in Holmby Hills, listed by Aaron’s widow Candy Spelling for $150 million, which Compass said at the time represented the highest priced residential property listed for sale. The home was widely reported to have sold for $85 million in 2011.
Forster Jones closed $356 million in total sales in 2017, according to Compass, and a total of approximately $5 billion worth of deals throughout her career.
“Real estate brokers as a whole have their own personality,” Forster Jones said. Even in the most luxurious properties “you’ll have some showing the property wearing torn jeans.”
Not Forster Jones.
“I’m always dressed, and I always have myself put together,” she said. “That’s really the image that I present and that I feel comfortable with, a more sophisticated kind of look and feel. And that’s what the clients expect as a part of my image.”
Forster Jones’ clothes reflect a mix of her own tastes and her clients’ expectations. That in part explains her need for a vast collection of accessories, including a rainbow of shoes and bags.
“I think about who the client is going to be,” she said.
A more conservative client might find Forster Jones wearing flat shoes and toting a traditional purse. The less conservative buyer might be presented with a more “fun” look, she said.
In either case, expect pops of color.
“Even if it’s a black dress, I might wear a lime green jacket, a colorful pair of shoes,” Forster Jones said.
No matter what she wears, Forster Jones is selling the California dream.
“You’re not always right, but you come up with what you think the target buyer is, and what they want to see,” she said. “For them, it’s painting that whole Hollywood picture, what they’ve seen on TV, (finding) what they imagined. Maybe they imagined themselves lying by the pool with a glass of champagne. (It’s about) making the property exciting, but hard to get, and a little bit elusive.
A luxury estate has to have something that makes it special.”