Thursday, August 09, 2007

Rib-eyes and Fashion

I love the Thursday Style section in the NY Times. It's always full of crazy things to spend money on, and stories that point out the crazy ways we live:

Be Yourselves, Girls, Order the Rib-Eye

This article is about how women have stopped trying to eat salads and other light, dainty fare when they're out on dates:

Red meat sent a message that she was "unpretentious and down to earth and unneurotic," she said, "that I’m not obsessed with my weight even though I’m thin, and I don’t have any food issues." She added, "In terms of the burgers, it said I’m a cheap date, low maintenance."

Of course, what you order on a date has financial significance too, for both parties:
Hamburgers, she added, say you are down-to-earth, which is why women rarely order those deluxe hamburgers priced as high as a porterhouse.

“They’re created for men who want to impress women, so they order the $60 burger, then they let the woman taste it,” Ms. Gershenson said. “The man gets to show off his expertise and show that he can afford it.”

Then there's this story:

When High Price Is the Allure

Designer labels are expensive, and getting more so:
This is the fourth consecutive autumn season in which a weak dollar has meant higher prices for designer clothing, much of which is made in Europe or stitched from fabrics imported from European mills. As the value of the dollar shrinks against the euro, prices continue to climb, with retailers citing hikes of as much as 15 percent for shoes and bags this year compared with last.

Yet, merchants and manufacturers have seen surprisingly little resistance in recent seasons to the cost of luxury goods.....

“Price certainly plays into a product’s allure,” said Robert Burke, a retail consultant in New York. “For certain people, the higher the price, the more attractive the item becomes.”

I guess that is our economy right now-- rich people can have plenty of money to afford expensive clothes, and the garment industry is taking advantage of it, knowing that even non-rich people will follow along.

At Bergdorf Goodman, a Stella McCartney turtleneck devoid of trim sells for $995, and her cable-stitched sweater for $1,495. A pair of Kieselstein-Cord sunglasses is tagged at $595. Far from daunting, such a ticket might be downright seductive to customers, Ms. Sokol said. “When you are looking at a handbag or even a pair of sunglasses, a high price can have inherent snob appeal.”

Consumers tell themselves, Ms. Sokol went on, “ ‘If those glasses are $150, I’m not going to be as interested as if they are $350.’ ”

That is not to say that consumers are indifferent to price. Many are making emotional adjustments, finding ways to balance a love of fashion with the reality of its increasingly exorbitant cost. Eunice Ward, a lawyer in Chicago with a taste for quirky labels like Dolce & Gabbana and Stella McCartney, pays full price only for items that resonate with her sense of style. During a recent shopping trip, she spied a Yohji Yamomoto sweater. “I knew it would fit with my wardrobe and update everything,” she said, “that it was going to be my workhorse for fall.

“I didn’t even check the price at first. I knew I would love it, and I didn’t care.”

.... As a technical designer for a fashion house, [Kate Strachan] is well acquainted with the price of style. “I know a lot of quality, craftsmanship and time goes into some of these pieces,” Ms. Strachan said.

Regardless, she is determined to put a cap on her spending. Combing the racks at Saks, she sighed wistfully: “I can’t afford these kinds of things, so usually I buy what I need most. This year that would be a winter coat.”

Then with a self-mocking smile she added, “Of course there are times when I’ll splurge.”


Anonymous said...

It's simple:
If you are spending a few bucks on yourself (food, clothes, entertainment) because YOU enjoy it and if its your budget, then its fine.

If you are spending outlandishly to send a message or impress ... then its not so smart and downright financially stupid.

SavingDiva said...

While I would love to buy designer clothing, I know that I can't afford it. I have a lot of friends that have Gucci sunglasses or Prada handbags...but who paid for them at the end of the day (parents) I guess I'll survive.

Anonymous said...

For me, staples are key. I don't mind spending a good amount of money on a staple that I can wear for years and never goes out of fashion. I don't buy cheap clothes, so I'm not very trendy. I'm a more classic dresser and that works for me. Buy quality and spend the money if you can. You get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

I've always ordered what I like on a date. The only thing I'm a little self-conscious about is not to order too much when the guy is paying. I don't feel comfortable splurging on other people's money. It's not very considerate. Other than that, I would order anything that I feel like having at the moment: a steak, seafood, fish, pasta, etc.... No man is worth not being yourself for.

jenni said...

The dating article got under my skin a little bit - it almost seemed to be enouraging women to eat steak simply to be a Kate Hudson "one of the boys" type girl... and really, what's the difference between that and a woman eating only a salad in order to appear "dainty"? Either way, the woman's food choices on the date are governed by their desire to create a certain image for the person they're out with, be it feminine or laid-back. Do men really care that much about what a woman eats on a date?