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Casual Clothing - a sign of social class?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by terminat, Oct 12, 2006.

  1. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    Must be the loafers.

    Then thank goodness I'm wearing oxfords today.
     
  2. Jared

    Jared Senior member

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    The problem with this conversation is that the generalisation we're trying to make is too broad. At the very least, we need to identify four distinct groups:
    • Rich & stylish
    • Rich & crass
    • Poor & stylish
    • Poor & crass
    Now we can draw generalisations about each of those. For example, rich&crass was traditionally a sign of the noveau riche, such as Silicon Valley CEOs. Poor&stylish is probably a sign of upwards (or downwards!) mobility. Poor&crass and rich&stylish are symptoms of education, hegemony, and the poverty cycle. It might be more fruitful, however, to identify subcultures. For example, chavs are distinct in much more than dress, and there are common themes in their lineages.
     
  3. Aaron

    Aaron Senior member

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    I wish I had more time to make a more detailed posting with readings, but here's the gist:

    Starting in the 19th century because of more merit and market based ways of attaining wealth an erosion of traditional class distinctions has occured. The emergence of a large middle-class, mass market, and economics of scale has meant products and activities that were once hallmarks of the elite are now easily accessable. Therefore, the wealthy and elite have had to differentiate their status through something like dressing down. This is nothing new, an elite always seeks to differeniate itself anyway it can (either through displays of wealth, culture or education) and be "ahead of curve" everyone more or less follows. A great example of this would be the growth of private air travel. Even 20 years ago flying privately was used by very few people. Now things like fractional ownership allow many to access what was once a hallmark of the super, super rich.

    However, because there are no longer hard and fast distinctions between class as say Feudal England the traditional hallmarks of "success" can't carry as much weight. In very simple terms, it is harder now to differeniate wealth than even half a century ago. This has advantages and disadvantages. As humans we make thousands of split-second decisions based on appearence every time we meet someone. Part of this is gentically ingrained, part social conditioning (and the debate could go on forever about how much is what) but the one thing it does do is save us time and help us avoid obvious danger. Now though we have to pause a little bit more, perhaps ask more questions, then try to fit people into our worlds and heirarchies.

    Wow that was way too long...
    A.
     
  4. Carey

    Carey Senior member

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    As if you can tell anything substantive from a person's manner of dress. The only thing you can discern is whether or not an individual has taste that appeals to the you.

    Give this diatribe a rest.
     
  5. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    There are some people out there who look exceedingly bourgeois, and middlebrow with wearing what they think are "rich clothing", and driving very prosperous cars.
     
  6. mrchapel

    mrchapel Senior member

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    Interesting discussion here. Here in the US, I've always viewed it a bit differently. The judge of class is not done by the way we dress solely, although I can see how it plays a certain part in identifying what clique you belong to. However, class can easily be defined by what said person drives. We are a country that espouses our wealth through fine vehicles and expensive technology. No longer is dress the primary factor for determining someone's wealth in my view.
     
  7. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    I would agree with this for the most part.
     
  8. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    The only thing you can discern is whether or not an individual has taste that appeals to the you.


    seconded.
     
  9. Film Noir Buff

    Film Noir Buff Senior member

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    Unfortunately most people dress badly

    Some of the reason is that they dont care

    Another is their hygiene isnt as good as they think it is, nor their neatness. Although yuo dont have to be a fanatic, it's awfully hard to be well dressed if you sleep with your food.

    Another reason is in the USA we've developed this idea of how shabby can you dress and still get treated like youre special. It's a new gauge of how well youre doing. Maybe its from movie stars who slum it to avoid paparazzi. Britney Spears seems to be a very good example.

    I cant remember the last time I saw someone casuallly dressed that looked good. I do think the few people Ive seen that were well dressed that ive remembered didnt seem particularly well off. To be honest, one of them looked like he'd bought his thigs from a thrift, but he wore them well.

    Style can be distinct from class. I realize that the items we generally consider attractive come from the monied or educated classes but they dont necessarily wear them stylishly, they may wear them properly as class signals but not stylishly.

    That's why there are so many variations. You can put nice suits on people and theyre still going to face the double hurdle of style and then class. It's not quite as scary as it sounds. Ive seen people wear custom made things who actually cheapen the garment to the point youd think they were wearing... At the same time Ive seen people with style make rather ordinary things sing.

    But, be as it may, even amongst those who dont care there will be a difference between them in terms of style and or class.
     
  10. Toiletduck

    Toiletduck Senior member

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    I know business owners who are worth billions (and some ironically own clothing companies) who prefer to buy cheap $10 clothing.

    Different people have different priorities, and money doesn't change them sometimes.
     
  11. Nantucket Red

    Nantucket Red Senior member

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    There are some people out there who look exceedingly bourgeois, and middlebrow with wearing what they think are "rich clothing", and driving very prosperous cars.

    It's always amusing in a pathetic way.

    Class sensibilities often have little to do with monetary wealth.
     
  12. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    I know business owners who are worth billions (and some ironically own clothing companies) who prefer to buy cheap $10 clothing.

    Different people have different priorities, and money doesn't change them sometimes.

    Most of the rich people quoted in this thread are newly rich in the sense that they were likely poor or at the very least middle-class types who managed to make themselves very wealthy, which attests to the lack of care for their wardrobe, etc.
     
  13. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    It's always amusing in a pathetic way.

    Class sensibilities often have little to do with monetary wealth.

    The Babbitt mentality.
     
  14. josepidal

    josepidal Senior member

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    I always thought social status in the United States was indicated by the age of the bimbo you were with relative to your age. [​IMG]
     
  15. kitonbrioni

    kitonbrioni Senior member

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    In that I'm reading a student's draft thesis on clothing and images of self and others, here's some references:
    O'Cass (2001) proposed that fashion clothing says how important an individual is, how much status the individual has, and what the individual is like. Johnson's et al. (2002) research determined that people do form impressions of others based on their dress at least some of the time. They also stated that their participants felt that other people used their dress cues to form impressions of them.

    O'Cass, A. (2001). Consumer self-monitoring, materialism, and involvement in fashion
    \tclothing. Australasian Marketing Journal, 9(1), 46-60.

    O'Cass, A. (2004). Fashion clothing consumption: antecedents and consequences of fashion
    \tclothing involvement. European Journal of Marketing, 38(7), 869-882.
    Johnson, K., Schofield, N.A., & Yurchisin, J. (2002). Appearance and dress as a source of
    information: A qualitative approach to data collection. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 20(3), 125-137.

    Sontag, M.S., & Lee, J. (2004). Proximity of clothing to self scale. Clothing and Textiles
    \tResearch Journal, 22(4), 161-177.
     
  16. lakewolf

    lakewolf Senior member

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    I see some guys here consider Boss suits lower class..

    Well maybe yes compared to $4000 Brionis, but regularly a standard Boss suit in an standard shop cost around $850 retail, a price for a suit "lower class", or an standard young student couldn't afford....

    Boss suits and the like in my opinion are worn by people as a higher end business suit ...

    I myself wear different levels of suits according to the occasion...

    example ( those are real/sale prices and not retail )

    a $150 "disposable" suit when I go to places where it could be easily damaged, like a disco or club...

    a $450 suit for a standard day in the office...

    a $900 suit for an special event...

    I'd never wear a $4000 suit, I have the money to buy it but I prefer to do other things with my money...
     
  17. Nantucket Red

    Nantucket Red Senior member

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    From what I've read on the forum, Boss seems to be considered relatively poor quality for the price compared with other brands. This assessment is not necessarily a comment on the inherent class associations of the brand.

    I think the need to wear a brand with a high level of recognition or the need to wear visible logos as if to show the world you paid a lot for clothing or accessories is indicative of lower-class aspirations to what is perceived as upper-class sensibilities.
     
  18. lakewolf

    lakewolf Senior member

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    Yes, I agree with your point...

    Anyway Boss is not high quality, we know that, but it is not cheap and their logos are not so visible...

    People in the know would get better clothes for the same price, but for most the uninformed out there... they consider Boss a quality suit... and not only the lower classes
     
  19. Jared

    Jared Senior member

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    Ahhh, research: kitonbrioni, you're my hero! Two of the papers are freely available:
    O'Cass, A. (2001). Consumer self-monitoring, materialism, and involvement in fashion clothing. Australasian Marketing Journal, 9(1), 46-60. O'Cass, A. (2004). Fashion clothing consumption: antecedents and consequences of fashion clothing involvement. European Journal of Marketing, 38(7), 869-882. Johnson, K., Schofield, N.A., & Yurchisin, J. (2002). Appearance and dress as a source of information: A qualitative approach to data collection. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 20(3), 125-137. Sontag, M.S., & Lee, J. (2004). Proximity of clothing to self scale. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 22(4), 161-177.
    The last is summarised in http://web1.msue.msu.edu/imp/modrr/rr556098.html
     
  20. Newton

    Newton Senior member

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    So much of this depends on culture.

    Where I live, there is a broad mix of cultures, mostly middle class. These are all stereytypes that fit quite well for the area.

    The Anglos amongst us tend to place less value on appearance, dress. More money tends to go on toys (such as plasma televisions) than outward signifiers of wealth.

    The Chinese culture values appearances of wealth, and nearly without exception they have better houses, better cars and better clothes than the guy next door.

    The Europeans tend to value appearance in dress, but it is more about gloss than substance. They are more similar to the Anglos, tending to put money into toys.

    The Vietnamese culture is similar to the Chinese but seems to place more of a premium on functionality.

    The Indians and Sri Lankans place very high value in the position of employment that someone is engaged in. It is a very common question.

    So, it's all relative to culture. I choose to dress well, not just for myself, but because I know that while my other Anglos may not appreciate it so much, a Chinese customer might base his decision on it. Even in casual dress I pepper my wardrobe with discreet logos because I know they will appreciate it. (Indeed, am often complimented.)
     

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