Keeping Up Appearances Can Hurt Your Wallet
New York Fashion Week will leave some delusional
Fashion’s Night Out, the three-year-old celebration of fashion, celebrity and partying, will take place this Thursday in cities across the country. Here in New York, women and men will hop from store to store, sipping champagne, listening to music and (if the retailers get what they want) dropping some cash on fall fashion steals. Many of these folks will have the funds to buy what they want even without the night’s special price promotions, while others wouldn’t be able to afford these top designers without it. Then there will be those who really can’t afford to do any sort of shopping, yet will gladly trick off much of their September rent/cell/grocery money in order to play along.
Faking it until you make it is a delicate art; some manage to do it with style and grace, while others will create lifelong debt attempting to keep up with some sort of façade of attainment. They want to look like ballers, but instead of putting themselves on track to actually obtaining wealth, they’ll just buy the same shoes, the same bags, the same experiences as the folks they admire can afford. It’s a sad, sad thing.
One of the most unfortunate things about faking one’s success or material worth is that it is often done for an audience of people who are also fronting. Talk to any nightclub promoter and you’ll be surprised to know how many of those bottle service packages are purchased by security guards, administrative assistants and other folks who may earn a respectable salary, but don’t really have the income to spend that sort of money on something experiential. And yet they do, often to the detriment of their long-term financial picture.
I wish that more people realized that not only can you be fly on a dime-store budget, but if you truly feel that you need money and things to impress people…you’ve got some other stuff you need to work out. Balling out at the bar and buying shots for everyone may impress people in the moment, but if your personality isn’t enough to captivate friends and admirers without that tab, then it’s all for naught. A crew of hangers on who will deal with you only for perks is of no value to your life. Plenty of people will be around when it looks like you have a lot, but if these same folks will bounce when they see that you’re only holding a little, then you didn’t need them in the first place.
I love the ‘look for less’ features in women’s magazines and on fashion blogs, because they give readers the opportunity to copy a higher end ensemble without literally running out and blowing all their cash trying to be something that they are not. But far too many of us will go get the actual bag, shoes or dress that we saw Famous Person XYZ wearing…why? Are you going to be followed by the paparazzi, too? Will your purse come filled with that same wad of dough that your fave celeb is toting? Of course not. And the more willing you are to blow money that you don’t have, the less of it that you’ll have down the line.
So long as cash (and the things that it can buy) rules everything around us, don’t expect the desire to outpace the Jones to disappear. However, you and I have the power over our individual choices when it comes to prioritizing appearances versus actual attainment (and, you know, character, intellect, humor… the sort of things that should draw in friends). So let’s make a toast (cheap wine, no need to front on my end) to keeping it real today, tomorrow and always.