One of the most emphasized aspects of successful mystery shopping is to blend in with the crowd, whether you’re auditing a fast food restaurant or an upscale hotel. While these roles require you to act like a typical customer/client, it’s also important to dress for the part.

It’s more than under dressing or overdressing for the scenario, although those guidelines still apply. Accessories and style are also important for you to fade into the background as you assess your surroundings.

Fast Food/Drive-Thru Restaurants

Although the clientele at these places are among the most casual dressers, there are still limitations. Avoid pajama bottoms, bedroom slippers, and grungy flip-flops. There’s a difference between casual and what you wear in the privacyh of your home. Even with drive-thru shops, you never know what might happen to necessitate you exiting your vehicle, so dress accordingly.

Dine-In Assignments

Depending on the venue, proper dress for these shops varies. If you’re visiting a sports bar, team logo jerseys are appropriate – but don’t wear a shirt of the local team’s biggest rival. That could stir the emotions of other guests, especially if liquor is being served, and you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. For more traditional restaurant environments, dress for the time of day you’re visiting. Lunch shop attire can be nice jeans and a button up shirt or pullover. For dinner, you can take it up a notch to business casual.

Valet Parking Shops

How you dress for these shops depends on the assignment scenario. If you’re posing as a potential client looking to book an event at a hotel, you should dress in casual business clothes. If the scenario requires you to say you’re meeting a hotel guest for drinks, you can be a bit more casual but still dressy enough to blend in with upscale hotel patrons.

Retail Mystery Shopping

Appropriate attire for retail shops varies greatly. For home improvement or department stores, casual attire is fine. However, if you’re shopping for high-end items that cost thousands of dollars, try your best to look like you’re in an income bracket that can afford the purchase, but don’t overdress as that may raise some suspicions among sales associates and make your visit too memorable.

Real Estate/Commercial Leasing Assignments

If you’re posing as a prospective home buyer or a potential lessee of an upscale commercial property, what you wear is important. If you’re looking at new homes, dressy or semi-dressy casual dress is preferred. You want to portray a typical customer but just as you should drive a late model car to the assignment, your appearance should indicate you have enough income to dress nicely for a professional appointment. As a business person interested in leasing commercial property, a nice suit or comparable clothing projects the successful image you’re striving for.

Thrift and Pawn Shops

Regardless of what you’re shopping for or what you’re trying to pawn, avoid dressing like you’re destitute. Thrift shops are frequented by folks from all socioeconomic sectors, as are pawn shops; everyone loves a good deal and many people need fast cash for a variety of personal and professional reasons. For pawn shops, leave the expensive jewelry at home. Dress like an average Joe just making your way through life the best way you can to avoid drawing attention to yourself.

Apartment Mystery Shopping

Again, you want to look gainfully employed but not too rich for the community you’re pretending you want to live in. Casual attire is perfect for these assignments, just so it’s clean and in good shape. If you’re conducting an apartment mystery shop before or after work, be sure to wear clothing without logos, names or badges that may reveal too much about your identity.

General Guidelines

No matter what your assignment is, always be well groomed with clean clothes, hair and fingernails. If you wear sandals or open-toed shoes, make sure your feet are clean and well maintained. Wear clothing that hides tattoos that may be offensive to the customers or staff of the place you’re shopping. Avoid wearing t-shirts with pictures, sayings or logos that may be considered offensive or contain foul language. In short, always dress like you’re meeting your potential in-laws for the first time and you’ll always be good to go.

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