Thursday, April 15, 2010

Status Symbols



black long-sleeved t-shirt (Old Navy)
jeans (DKNY)
"ruby slippers" (DSW)
Burberry scarf (gift from mother)


First off, I realize that I'm wearing a winter-y outfit in front of the blossoming spring flowers, but I didn't have a picture of this outfit - which I did wear recently - until this morning, when the natural lighting and lovely landscape beckoned.  So please forgive the seasonal clash.

This outfit is one of my staple outfits for class or maybe a Friday afternoon lecture.  It looks put together, but it's also casual and comfortable. 

I want to make a note about these shoes, which are one of my favorite pairs.  I call them the "ruby slippers" because, well, I'm cheesy.  They have a tiny heel, enough to give me a little boost, but they're still very comfortable, perfect for walking around campus.  I like them because they're an easy way to add spice to an outfit.

I love the neutral palate of this scarf that still contains just a hint of color.  These soft colors makes it extremely versatile.  It's also warm, comfortable, well-made, and just plain pretty. of course, you realize that my hedging is leading up to the inevitable: a Burberry scarf is one of the most easily identifiable designer items.  To put it bluntly, it's a status symbol.  When I received this item, I loved it for the aforementioned qualities (comfort, adaptability, quality fabric and make, etc.).  However, I can't deny that wearing it does mark me in a certain way as a consumer of expensive designer goods, which frankly makes me a bit uncomfortable, especially considering my graduate student status and tiny, tiny budget.  Sometimes I wonder if I would still feel this way if I made more money or if I worked in an atmosphere where designer pieces were the uniform.

  •   Why are we attracted to designer pieces?  status?  quality?  mixture of both?
  •    What is the status of designer clothes in your work environment? 


Scholar Style Guide said...

Katie, your hair looks great in this photo! I especially like your addition of the red flat. Hm, something about a punch of red adds interest to most outfits - maybe this merits a post series? Why red, after all? You may be onto something with your gesture at Dorothy and her ruby red slippers.

You mention that status items signify a type of consumerism, and I agree that they convey a capitalist message. It seems like the explanation of an item's status most often lies in its political history. If that's the case, then Burberry's nascence during and after WWI would be significant, and the label's survival into modern fashion would also offer insights into our contemporary politics.

Sorry this commentary is vague. Thanks for the brain food :)


Scholar Style Guide said...

In some cases, I think designer pieces are actually superior in quality to lower-priced items (i.e. my kate spade bag). But I admit to having a deep longing for a Burberry trench coat that can only reprsent the degree to which I've bought into their marketing ploys. The Sartorialist did an ad campaign for Burberry recently that made me simultaneously despair that I do not own a Burberry trench coat AND feel sick that his snobby images made me want one so badly.

So I will not buy one. If someone gifted me one, though, I would happily wear it. I think.

Which raises another issue: why do we gift people designer items? Why might your mom have paid extra to give you a burberry scarf as opposed to a "regular one"? It seems like giving designer items is at least partially an act that says "I want you to have the very best."