In 4000BC, Tutankhamen died, and contrary to the “Two Ronnies” sketch (two old men watch a funeral procession with about 8 limousines, and one asks “how much do you think he left?” and the other says “all of it – you have to”) he took a large proportion of it with him. In 4000BC gold was wealth, so to show your wealth you wore your gold.
Wind forwards by 6000 years, and has anything changed? The idea of the status symbol is still with us, and we choose different ones to show (or enjoy) our wealth. A big house. A nice car. A massive TV. All very well, but if you are walking down the street (and not therefore in the car/house at the time) how do you show your riches to the people you meet?
Big question – why would you want to? How others perceive us is an important aspect of our self worth. It is only human nature to want to be as good as we can be, and there are only so many ways we can do that.
When I had my first tattoo done, my mum didn’t speak to me for a week. Never mind any other aspects of my life (I’d passed my degree, got a job (it was a terrible job) and was generally happy) but a small, easily hidden logo on my shoulder for some reason made me a colossal disappointment. I’ve had two more since, and she actually likes the third, so hopefully she’s realised there are more important things in my life than the indelible scrawlings of a Welshman on my arms.
As you might have noticed from my tweets, and you’ll soon realise from this blog, I like to look my best, whenever possible and I don’t see why you shouldn’t too. It is only in the last 5 years that I’ve felt nature has given me the chance to do so (I grew up very spotty, I’ll tell you about the cosmetic surgery next time, and a lot of running has finally got my body looking passable – although the grey hairs might need sorting pretty soon) so what do we do?
We dress and we accessorise. It would be a very strange world if we all made like Adam and Eve, so we put on clothes, make up, product, shoes, and jewellery. With the right mix, we can look pretty awesome, but it doesn’t take much to overdo it and look terrible.
Think of the brands we associate with chav culture. Burberry, Von Dutch, Kappa, and to some extent, D&G, Calvin Klein, (depending on how they are worn) all have one thing in common. The brand is the first thing you see about them. Burberry’s ghastly beige check, Von Dutch’s Signature, Kappa’s reclining pair...
Vicky pollard is wearing that track suit because it shows that she can afford that track suit. Maybe this will impress people, but she isn’t exactly aiming particularly high. The same goes with “box fresh” shiny trainers – you keep them looking new, so people think you can afford a new pair of trainers every week.
Jewellery is another example - I’ve seen boys on the bus wearing earrings, which I would imagine are vying for the world record of “largest cubic zirconium”. What this might mean to his 14 year old mates, is that he can afford about 10 quid’s worth of earring, what is says to me is that he’d love to have a Beckhamesque diamond earring or two, I have a good feeling (based on the fact that he’s not being mugged, and most tellingly, he wouldn’t be riding on the bus if he could afford the real thing) that it’s the Zircon he’s gone for.
Next example, the Bluetooth headset. You don’t look cool – you don’t look popular as you need to be able to answer the phone to any of your 250 friends – you look like you have a lump of technology hanging off your ear. Are you are a paramedic? Are you on call to avoid nuclear meltdown? Are you Alison Lapper? You don’t need to be able to answer the phone that quickly. People seem to think that a Bluetooth headset shows status – what it shows is that you can afford to go down Carphone Warehouse and pay 15 quid for a Bluetooth headset. You look like an idiot.
Finally we come back to King Tut.
There seem to be a lot of people who choose to wear all their jewellery all the time. Looking like Mr T is only cool if you are Mr T. No one thinks you are a better person because you weigh yourself down with heavy metals
There are others who'll take it another step further and think that wearing heavy gold earrings is so important, they’ll destroy their ears in the process.
I’ve seen women re-piercing higher and higher as the original holes have extended so far the earring has eventually fallen all the way through. Not an attractive look.
So the message is simple – less is more. Keep it classy, and take this advice from my step mum – the classiest person I know:
On choosing a new car, she went for the Si (sporty model – but not the most expensive) over the Ghia. She could afford the top of the range, but looked at the badge, the chrome and the logo, and told the dealer “it’s a little vulgar”.
She was quite right.