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post #91 of 131
This entire conversation would be different if we were women. The notion of treasuring, collecting and desiring a wide range of clothing is considered normative in the US adult female population. Look at the far larger number of women's clothing departments than men's at a department store. So men who have this interest are sometimes criticized for it in a way that would not be directed toward women. Thus, some of these men are defensive about having to justify their interests, while women with the same tastes would not be challenged. I suspect this explains some of the vehemence expressed by those who think they are under attack. I doubt one could reliably classify the effects on society of men who spend large amounts of money on clothing, unless one has specified information beyond the simple act of buying. There are some environmental concerns revolving around increased overall consumption, but they might depend more on quantity that cost. Ten pairs of bespoke shoes might cost as much as 100 pairs of expensive RTW, but the environmental burden may be less. One would have to know quite a lot about how each item was produced to know the net environmental effects. Overall, less consumption is almost certainly better and reusing an existing resource better than having something made new, bespoke or OTR. My hesitance about luxury is not based on something I would view as ethical, or at least indirectly involving ethics. It is the problem that one must learn to appreciate this far more expensive object, and to see it as those who value luxury see it. This means that its functional contribution has long since been forgotten as one focuses on the ever more rarified considerations. Before there were quartz and then digital watches, the best mechanical watches did do a better job of telling time. Even then it was hard to argue that the gold case and the decorative jewels had any functional purpose. Now, one uses a cell phone when one wants to know the time, and a watch is jewelry. There is nothing inherently wrong with jewelry, but claims that the expensive watch is in some objective way better than the cheap digital do ring hollow. Thus, a good watch is no longer defined at all in terms of timekeeping accuracy, durability, or low maintenance. It is decoration. Nothing wrong with decoration, but call it what it is. I don't know what a $5,000 suit gets you that $500 would not, or for that matter $50 at a thrift store, but I find it difficulty to believe the function would be 10 or 100 fold greater. It will not last 10-100 times as long- and given the time value of money it would need to last more than 10-100 times as long to pay off economically. If the cheaper suit will last 10 years, does one really need a suit that will last 100 or 1000? Will it not tear or stain, and the owner die, long before that? It might look better, forcing one to ask how good it has to look to serve its purpose. I do think that saving money is inherently good. Lowering the cost of capital is good. Directing resources toward the most productive parts of the economy is good. But I have no idea how much, in aggregate, hyperconsumption of clothing costs.
post #92 of 131
I think in simpler terms: humans don't like to be told something is 'good enough' for them.
post #93 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh View Post

I don't know what a $5,000 suit gets you that $500 would not, or for that matter $50 at a thrift store, but I find it difficulty to believe the function would be 10 or 100 fold greater. It will not last 10-100 times as long- and given the time value of money it would need to last more than 10-100 times as long to pay off economically. If the cheaper suit will last 10 years, does one really need a suit that will last 100 or 1000? Will it not tear or stain, and the owner die, long before that? It might look better, forcing one to ask how good it has to look to serve its purpose. I do think that saving money is inherently good. Lowering the cost of capital is good. Directing resources toward the most productive parts of the economy is good. But I have no idea how much, in aggregate, hyperconsumption of clothing costs.

You have correctly identified the diminishing marginal utility for consumption, but for some reason you do not recognize the diminishing marginal utility of money. Buying a suit that costs 10x will not make you 10x as satisfied, but likewise having 10x wealth or income will not make you 10x happier. Each person's specific utility from the marginal purchase will depend on their own utility curves and where they are on each.

As for "directing resources", one man's "productive" economic activity is another man's useless trifle. And one man's useless trifle is another man's career. One can say it is "wasteful" to spend $300-600 on expensive American-made shoes, and one can rail against the loss of "productive" activities like manufacturing. But one cannot simultaneously rail against the loss of expensive local manufacturing and rail against those who would support expensive local manufacturing through their "wasteful" spending.
post #94 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdfast View Post

I like your category of "the collectors". I'd personally view them as a somewhat neurotic subset of the value chasers rather than a separate group, but now we're definitely in the realm of dancing angels!

Well, neurotic might be a little harsh. I don't see this as fundamentally different than anyone else who maintains a collection of say, stamps, as a hobby. On the other hand, there are certainly such people for whom "neurotic" would be a complement. And, yes, we have some of those on SF . . .
Quote:
Even if the treadmill does hold stronger sway, I don't think that invalidates the personal reward of acquiring nice things. The treadmill merely suggests that in the longer term, in the absence of continued directional stimulation, mood reverts to your personal mean... but the other side would be that if you give it enough ongoing pushes, you can maintain a directional momentum. It's simply that there's an power relationship rather than a linear one (the mathematicians will correct me if I'm wrong with the terminology of my analogy, I hope!). Whether it's possible to keep pushing depends on your overall resources, however.

But you are overlooking the practical aspects of it. One of the most interesting things about the hedonic treadmill is that there is some pretty strong empirical evidence as to how it works. The key insight is that there is very little relationship between the "size" of an acquisition and how happy it makes you. Nor is there much of a relationship between the size of an acquisition and how long it makes you happy. For example, you might spend 100 pounds on a tie or you might spend 1000 pounds on a suit. But buying the suit will not make you ten times happier than buying the tie. Nor will the effect last any longer. So in terms of maintaining your "directional momentum," you would be better off buying, say, two ties (over time) instead of one suit. And it's much cheaper.

Obviously, this is a gross simplification. But applying this principle really does work and there are even some concrete rules that come out of it. For example, never buy more than one piece of clothing at a time. Don't buy say, an odd jacket, a tie and a pair of shoes all in one go. Rather, buy an odd jacket. Wait a few weeks and then pick up that tie you've had your eye on. A few weeks after that, go hunt for shoes. The effect is that you turn what would have been a pleasant afternoon into a pleasant month.
Quote:
EDIT: reading all that back, it sounds both remarkably whimsical and remarkably poncey. Ah well, such is my mood this afternoon, and I say that's no bad thing. tongue.gif

I will go you one better and add twee. The hedonic treadmill is a surprisingly old concept. There is some medieval tale of some knight who did something unchivalrous and offended some queen or other. He was condemned to wander the realm for a year and a day and then return to court and tell the queen what makes a woman happy on pain of death should he fail. The knight went and had various pointless adventures but could not figure out the answer to the puzzle. On returning to court, he admitted he did not know the answer and then threw himself on the queen's mercy and asked her to answer the riddle. The queen said, "It takes very little to make a woman happy but more than is contained in heaven and earth to keep her so." Then she cut off his head. . . . Well, I may be misremembering this last bit but the point remains that this old story has a pretty good insight into the psychology of happiness.
post #95 of 131

There is little doubt that pretty much everyone here is spending more than they "need" to on clothing.  Obviously, cheaper clothes would serve the basic functions of clothing (warmth, protection from the elements, etc.) just as well for a fraction of the cost.  Even factoring in social acceptability and career demands, this is a forum for people who take more of an interest in clothing than is socially required so I don't think we are talking about the utilitarian side of clothing use.

 

So, we are talking about desire/pleasure, not need.  Now, that pleasure can come from a lot of things, and some we might think more highly of than others (assuming we are going to get judgmental about people's pleasures, which this thread seems to assume).  Basically, it seems like the pleasures to be had from clothes are of two basic types: aesthetic and signifying.

 

  • Aesthetic pleasures: I think these clothes look nicer, and I like nice looking things.

 

  • Signifying pleasures: I think these clothes make a statement (usually, but not necessarily, about me) that I want to project to others.  "Brand whoring," for instance is valuing a certain way of signifying by association with a particular brand (usually something like, look how wealthy or in-the-know I am because I can afford an know about ______ brand, or look at how I fit into this particular lifestyle/narrative based on the brand I am wearing).  Wearing only a bespoke suit is a different way of signifying, and so is wearing a dirty t-shirt and jeans.  Each is a way fo sending a particular message.

 

Those seem to me to be the (non-utilitarian) functions of clothes that account for the time/money that people invest in them, particularly people in a forum like this one, but really anyone who can afford to make any sartorial choices.

 

To discuss whether a particular clothing/spending choice or a particular person's clothing/spending choices are "good" or "bad," therefore, depends on how you (compared to the person making the choice) value the aesthetic or signifying function played by the clothes in question.  

 

Where does this get us on the "is it good or bad?" or "how much is too much?" questions?  Well, I'm not sure.  But I think it might refocus the question on the purpose or effect that one is trying to achieve through particular clothing choices, which splits it into two different questions: (1) what do you think of that aesthetic/signifying purpose/effect (is it a worthwhile one)? and (2) how well does the particular clothing choice achieve that aesthetic/signifying purpose/effect?

post #96 of 131
Reflecting on the thought of clothing as a hobby (which i would categorize it), is remarkable in the sense that it is a hobby that you can immerse your life in. It is a hobby that can define you in all manners of society. Being a stamp collector, for instance, is not always relevant. But what you wear is always relevant when considering how much information your clothing conveys. Think about how easy it is to recognize or categorize a person by how they look. It is powerful business indeed. Be it for self interest, recognition, conformity, stereotyping, etc. It affects all areas of social interaction. Being stylish or fashionable is indeed a hobby, but one that you can live in, and one that can help you shape your world for better or worse.

I agree that most of what we do here in SF is luxury consumption or consumerism, but i think it could have more usefulness than other materialistic endeavors...
post #97 of 131
I think we have the same argument or discussion every 3-4 years.
post #98 of 131
I suppose you would be among those who could know that.
post #99 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdfast View Post

True, of course, but it's my hobby to enjoy thinking about the implications/ethics of questions like that posed by the OP, so forgive my continuing to discuss it. I'm afraid I do enjoy a meandering flight of fancy. smile.gif

One of these days we're going to staple those wings down because you'll have posted a WAYWRN pic of them as an incorporation into your latest Ede and Ravenscroft commission. Then we, the rest of the forumites, will know that you have finally flown from your delightfully eccentric rocker, and as always you will seem to give little care because really just metaphorical wings anyway and it's something you like.

I also agree wholeheartedly. While I can find arguments which justify my purchases those arguments are not the reasons behind why I buy the things I do. I buy them because I like them and because they are what I want to wear. To tie in with your pop psychologist, I believe the person you were looking for is Benjamin Huff, author of the Tao of Pooh. To then extend your analogy, the position you put forth would be that attributable to pooh, who simply is - a bear who enjoys his life without having to justify it and does not fret his life away.
post #100 of 131

Hmmmm. The Ethos of Consumerism and Luxury Consumption.

 

Whence the battle?

 

It isn't complicated, only confusing to one who is double minded [simultaneously holding ethos from two competing sources of truth] or has no absolute source of truth.

 

One's ethos or values are a direct product of one's world view.

 

One's world view is merely a product of one's truth source or source of truth. Whatever one chooses as a truth source, it then becomes the foundation of the worldview used to assemble the ethos or collection of truths or values used to establish one's internal ethics or rules of conduct whether the conduct or activity is consumerism or luxury consumption.

 

Most Eastern philosophies promote the idea that truth is found within, yet acknowledge that all internal truth first existed outside of what was an empty vessel at birth.A small subset believe that truth is found after one returns to the state of an empty vessel.

 

In first case, all truth is relative to the individual since the individual chooses what is truth using the worldview they possessed at birth or nothing. typically truth for these individuals is anything that gives them pleasure or makes them feel good. In the second case, truth is found at the bottom of a vessel emptied of its ethos or nothing. So much for the State of Nirvana. For both of these Eastern philosophical systems the end game is the same; truth is ultimately based on nothing or no-thing.

 

Most Western non-monotheistic philosophies promote the idea that truth is relative to the individual and that there is no absolute truth. This is classic existentialism. where the individual is their own truth source. Sound familiar? A humanistic expression of this would be; "If it feels good [to you], do it". Another class of Western philosophical thinking holds that everything is a product of random events or that everything came ultimately from no-thing; e.g., Nietzsche's statement; "God is dead."

 

Without an external absolute truth source, both Eastern and Western philosophical traditions find that truth comes from the one of two primary sources: one's self or no-thing.

 

Since all philosophies that holding that the individual is their own source truth typically believe that everything came from no-thing, all above described systems have the same truth source: no-thing. Many philosophers from these schools of thought claim to hold the scientific method in high esteem despite the fact that they are promoting, in the most double minded manner possible, a philosophy counter to at least once one Scientific law that has proven to be true absolutely within the space-time continuum; e.g., "Some-thing cannot come from no-thing."

 

Truth is a thing and a true idea with material reality. How could it come from no-thing?

 

If no-thing is the ultimate source of truth for one, then to them everything will be appear to be true at one time or another at any given place in the space-time continuum. After a lifetime of self deceit, this lot are usually more than disillusioned, "enjoying" a state of apathy or despair.

 

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things." -- Henry David Thoreau

 

Executive Summary:

 

Without an external truth source, every idea or thing must be taken to be true as everything has a relative truth or is true relative to something. And no one can deny another their truth source even if that truth source is nothing or no-thing.

 

Example: a unicorn is a true idea despite the fact that the idea is a merely chimera with no material reality of two pre-existing ideas but completely independent ideas, each both a relative and absolute truth by reason of their prior and current existence; a horse and a horn from an oryx. While the unicorn has never demonstrated a material existence, and hence some form of absolute truth in this space-time continuum, one cannot deny that the unicorn is a true idea or a truth relative to ones that believe unicorns are true bor real.

 

The only way to determine that a unicorn is a idea that is absolutely false or false from any particular or peculiar point of view in the space-time continuum because it is only a non-material chimera, one must have access to an absolute source of truth that is independent of space-time or eternal.

 

If one holds some external truth source to be truth absolute, such as a believer in a mono-theistic religion, while simultaneously holding values from a competing philosophical system such as humanism, existentialism, empiricism, skepticism, taoism, objectivism, gnosticism, etc., to be true, THEN, one will be double minded and simultaneously hold values originating from two incompatible truth sources.

 

When truth sources are incompatible, either one is true or both are false, but they cannot both be simultaneously true.

 

Holding no absolute truth source because you believe that none exist or believing what you want because it makes you feel good, will leave you powerless to argue with another about their truth without looking like or feeling like a fool. If you have no truth source, you should have no complaint about another's; the end.

 

If double minded, you likewise cannot deny another their truth until you resolve your competing truth sources to one that is absolutely true. You can have no complaint about another's truth source, since you have proven that competing truth sources are no obstacle to "truth" or ethos by your actions. In practice, you have no truth source and it would be foolish to deny another their's.

 

Executive Summary:

 

One can never successfully argue against any idea without first adopting some form of an absolute source of truth.

 

Unless you claim some form of absolute truth which denies the truth of Consumerism or Luxury Consumption, you must then accept both to be true even if it doesn't make you feel good. You cannot rely on an internal standard that is only true for you to deny another their truth. Likewise, if your truth source is nothing, then you must accept everything to be true and in this case ethos supporting both, since you have no basis for determining otherwise.

 

Before you can defeat a false ideology based upon an ethos relative to an individual or arising from no-thing, one must first find a absolute source of truth or a source external to one's self that is absolute or true both inside [and ultimately outside] the space-time continuum.

 

Consumer Warning:

 

If you ever find such an absolute source of truth, it may become quite difficult to argue with others whose ethos or values [hence, arguments and actions] are based on no-thing or just upon those that would give them pleasure or a feeling of happiness.

 

Cheers!

post #101 of 131
so heres a great example of consumerism. I am trying to spend less on clothes this year because there is nothing i really NEED. I can live life perfectly fine without buying clothes this whole year. But today....

picked up a navy RLBL suit for $800... i bought it because its a classic colour and a great deal for black label but i already have alot of suits... Should i keep or return? Am I just a victim to consumerism??

post #102 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by AriGold View Post

Should i keep or return?

No one can answer this for you. If you're asking the question then you almost certainly don't need it, but that doesn't mean you "should" return it. There is no universal correct answer, only the correct answer for you.

I play a brass instrument (as a hobby, not professionally). I currently own more than 10 different examples of said instrument. Is that too many? Should I sell some?
post #103 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by AriGold View Post

so heres a great example of consumerism. I am trying to spend less on clothes this year because there is nothing i really NEED. I can live life perfectly fine without buying clothes this whole year. But today....

picked up a navy RLBL suit for $800... i bought it because its a classic colour and a great deal for black label but i already have alot of suits... Should i keep or return? Am I just a victim to consumerism??


return, does not fit foo.gif
post #104 of 131
IMHO Celery said it best on the 2nd page of the thread with his post regarding diminishing returns.

I try to focus on staple items and tailoring these days, whereas I used to spend roughly the same amount of money on lesser quality items in greater quantity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AriGold View Post

picked up a navy RLBL suit for $800... i bought it because its a classic colour and a great deal for black label but i already have alot of suits... Should i keep or return? Am I just a victim to consumerism??

Depends on how much fabric you have to lengthen the sleeves. wink.gif
post #105 of 131
Originally Posted by Bounder View Post

Quote:
Even if the treadmill does hold stronger sway, I don't think that invalidates the personal reward of acquiring nice things. The treadmill merely suggests that in the longer term, in the absence of continued directional stimulation, mood reverts to your personal mean... but the other side would be that if you give it enough ongoing pushes, you can maintain a directional momentum. It's simply that there's an power relationship rather than a linear one (the mathematicians will correct me if I'm wrong with the terminology of my analogy, I hope!). Whether it's possible to keep pushing depends on your overall resources, however.

But you are overlooking the practical aspects of it. One of the most interesting things about the hedonic treadmill is that there is some pretty strong empirical evidence as to how it works. The key insight is that there is very little relationship between the "size" of an acquisition and how happy it makes you. Nor is there much of a relationship between the size of an acquisition and how long it makes you happy. For example, you might spend 100 pounds on a tie or you might spend 1000 pounds on a suit. But buying the suit will not make you ten times happier than buying the tie. Nor will the effect last any longer. So in terms of maintaining your "directional momentum," you would be better off buying, say, two ties (over time) instead of one suit. And it's much cheaper.

Obviously, this is a gross simplification. But applying this principle really does work and there are even some concrete rules that come out of it. For example, never buy more than one piece of clothing at a time. Don't buy say, an odd jacket, a tie and a pair of shoes all in one go. Rather, buy an odd jacket. Wait a few weeks and then pick up that tie you've had your eye on. A few weeks after that, go hunt for shoes. The effect is that you turn what would have been a pleasant afternoon into a pleasant month.

Oh, i see what you were implying by mentioning it now that you've spelled it out for me. Yes, that's certainly true. In fact, that's one positive side-effect of bespoke's inevitable long wait between initial concept and final delivery. It effectively stretches out the "buying" to the whole production period. I also find that each wearing - provided they're sufficiently spaced out - also reminds one of the pleasure of the acquisition.

 

The psychological similarities in the above description to other pleasurable but habit-forming activities are amusing to note, though probably unsurprising given they all share a final endpoint.

 

Originally Posted by Septimus View Post

 

But I think it might refocus the question on the purpose or effect that one is trying to achieve through particular clothing choices, which splits it into two different questions: (1) what do you think of that aesthetic/signifying purpose/effect (is it a worthwhile one)? and (2) how well does the particular clothing choice achieve that aesthetic/signifying purpose/effect?

This is a topic I've raised several time on the board under various thread guises; the replies are usually interesting in revealing a huge variation in active thought/insight put into selecting an outfit.

 

Originally Posted by norcaltransplant View Post

I think we have the same argument or discussion every 3-4 years.

 

Originally Posted by Holdfast View Post

I apologise in advance for not reading the thread. Having witnessed this sort of discussion elsewhere, I've found it usually ends up with personal recriminations and someone's feelings getting hurt.

fistbump.gif laugh.gif

 

 

Originally Posted by mktitsworth View Post

One of these days we're going to staple those wings down because you'll have posted a WAYWRN pic of them as an incorporation into your latest Ede and Ravenscroft commission. Then we, the rest of the forumites, will know that you have finally flown from your delightfully eccentric rocker, and as always you will seem to give little care because really just metaphorical wings anyway and it's something you like.

I also agree wholeheartedly. While I can find arguments which justify my purchases those arguments are not the reasons behind why I buy the things I do. I buy them because I like them and because they are what I want to wear. To tie in with your pop psychologist, I believe the person you were looking for is Benjamin Huff, author of the Tao of Pooh. To then extend your analogy, the position you put forth would be that attributable to pooh, who simply is - a bear who enjoys his life without having to justify it and does not fret his life away.

That's the fellow. I wish I'd written that book; I swear I came up with the basic conceptual idea (though not framing it so overtly within an Eastern philosophical context) before him. :p

 

And on the other point, maybe if I ever get a shirt monogram, perhaps a little pair of angel wings would be the way to go... rotflmao.gif

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