I’m starting to think that having and indulging expensive taste is a gift that I was not born with, which is a shame because I want it. Though I know there isn’t actually a connection, I like to think that having expensive taste and being polished and put together are linked, as in, I’ll automatically seem classier just because I’m luxe-ing it up. I know this is untrue because I’ve bought a designer handbag (Coach o, not a Louis Vuitton or a Birkin) and it hasn’t transformed me into a glamourous femme at all!
When I first met one friend in particular, in 2008 or early 2009, I remember noticing that she had Vogue eyeglass frames. She struck me as someone who was confident and comfortable in her own skin and she was cute too, and I remember thinking “she has Vogue frames and she’s classy, of course“, lol. I don’t even know if they were Vogue Magazine Vogue, but she made me want “designer” frames. Before I bought my current pair of glasses five years ago, I dragged my sister and youngest brother to the optician, to help me pick the perfect frames. And guess what? The frames that looked the best on me were a generic brand and not designer frames so my plans to upgrade my eyewear style were thwarted.
My mom started wearing prescription glasses last year (much to her chagrin!) and she went to the same optician that I went to five years earlier and guess who walked out with a stunning pair of Jimmy Choo frames that not only looked superb on her, but were also heavily discounted and the same price as the generic brands of frames? I tried on her frames and they looked fab on me too…but my mom had gotten the last pair! Over the next few months I kept my eyes open for another pair to come around, then I finally went back to the optician, determined to find my own designer frames. I tried on frames by Baby Phat, DKNY, Liz Claiborne, Marc Jacobs, Nicole Miller, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent…and the pair that looked best on me was the same generic brand that I bought five years ago! Mildly annoyed, I went to a different optician this past week, and tried on Coach, DKNY, Dolce and Gabbana, and Ray Bans—once again the pair I liked best was a generic brand so I bought them—it must be my destiny to give generic eyewear brands fame and fortune they’d ordinarily not have!
All kidding aside, some people are just naturally drawn to more expensive and luxurious brands. This description fits one of my colleagues to a T: she makes me laugh because it doesn’t matter what, if presented with two identical items (even cheeses, for example), she will pick the luxe one, every time—it just comes naturally to her and I tell her that it’s her God-given skill, while she sees it as a curse and plague to her wallet! For every Nigerian who doesn’t care about brand names, my guess is there are at least two who do. It’s hard to deny that our culture is somewhat showy—just check out any wedding posted on the popular Nigerian websites and prepare to see people wearing Louboutins and sipping on Moët as if it’s water. Fine, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event (we hope!) but I see more people wearing luxury brands and driving luxury cars in Nigeria than I do in my corner of the world, and I sure don’t know any Nigerian celebrities (well, except maybe Seye Kuyinu—hah!). To be fair, the population of Nigeria is about five times that of Canada, and my corner of the world may not be representative of the general population so all of that might not be saying much.
In Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success*, he talks about living a “first class” life, encouraging the reader to splurge a bit when they’re able to and do a first class thing such as fly first class. He says the more first class things you do, the more you’ll want to do, and that can be a driving force to keep up your success game. I suspect he’s right: after sipping unlimited wine in a comfy pod at the front of the plane, I’m sure it’s painful to go back to the economy section and be squished between a screaming child with a frazzled parent and a linebacker who’s hogging the armrest, forcing yourself to stay awake so you don’t miss your opportunity to get a small glass of wine in a plastic cup from the steward(ess)! First class flying was just an example; this idea applies to anything you determine to be first class, if it’s getting your hair professionally done weekly, or having a chauffeur (things that are luxuries, at least in Canada).
There’s nothing wrong with having expensive taste as long as you’re not going bankrupt or stealing from others to support the lifestyle, and as long as you don’t look down on generic brands simply because they don’t have a luxury name on them. Snobbery is not cool. Sometimes the luxury brand is actually of better quality than the generic brand (but not always). Most average folks who like the finer things in life have mastered the art of mixing high end and low(er) end items, and the ones who look best are those who wear their goods rather than letting the name brands wear them.
Back to eyeglasses: did you know that 80% of the world’s eyeglass frames are made by the same company, using pretty much the same materials? Yes, the fancier brands may have more details painted on, or more bling added by hand, but the generic frame they make is no more durable than its luxe counterpart. And that’s not all: this same company that makes almost all eyeglass frame brands also owns big eyewear retail stores (LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, and Sunglass Hut to name a few). Want to know more? This 60 Minutes story that I saw years ago was very eye opening (pun intended)—it’s was an interesting story.
In less than two weeks I should be rocking my new (generic brand) frames and figuring out other ways to upgrade my casual look, especially my hair! Though I’m rocking hat head in the pictures above (it’s winter here, yo!), those who know me best can vouch that my hair generally looks a hot mess. God help me.
Do you have expensive taste? What does expensive taste mean to you?
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