In search of expensive taste


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?

P.S. 5 things people who wear glasses think about

*This is an affiliate link, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you purchase the item using my link

19 thoughts on “In search of expensive taste

  1. I have to say that I’m definately not in the same boat but you already knew that! I don’t know how people can spend so much money on an item that serves the same function as something less expensive, like a purse for example. I do like nice things but I’m picky about what’s worth spending on. Honeymoon = yes totally worth spending a bit extra for the luxury. Eyeglasses = nope. My reasoning though is that if I can spend $20 on a purse instead of $300 then I can get matching shoes and maybe some jeans and a nice necklace and a shirt for the price of one name brand purse.

    I was brought up to know thatsome things you never go cheap on (like a good set of pots and pans with a lifetime guaranty) and somethings will just be fun to replace anyways. I’ve always rocked what I buy and I’ve never had someone ask to see the tag. If a supermodel can rock something made from garbage (there was this fashion design show a while back and a challenge was to go through materials in garbage bags and make gowns) then it has to do with the person not the name. I still won’t judge you for wanting that Coach purse! :)

    • Hehe, Rachel. You aren’t one to seek out high-end accessories or clothing and you definitely rock anything that you wear. I do like a nice purse though: I carry a lot in my purses and I find the more expensive ones last longer and are more durable (no worn or broken straps), so that’s how I justify spending more. I was trying to go high-end with glasses but well, now you know how that turned out! Even so, I really like the glasses I bought, and I’m eager to see them again once I can actually see through them. :)

      P.S. The only Coach purse I want is the exact same one that was stolen almost four years ago. It was the most expensive purse I’d ever bought and I spent $140 on it, but at the time I actually felt like it was a steal (Lol…I know you’re gasping in horror)!

    • You’re very right, Aloted—we can only be ourselves abi? I think it’s nice that you and your hubby balance each other in that way: you can introduce each other to the opposite mindset.

  2. Expensive tastes doesn’t mean buying luxury brands. You can look amazing just by wearing stuff from H&M and Joe Fresh. Think about all the designers who make nothing but loud and ugly clothes (such as many of Versace’s pieces)! And carrying a brand name, especially ones that have huge, flashy logos is just tacky. I’ve mostly stopped going to Coach, but when I did, I avoided big C bags at ALL COSTS. It’s just a bit show-offy and Coach isn’t even super-lux/classic lux the same way as, say, Louis Vuitton or Chanel. Personally, I like mixing budget-friendly (though I prefer H&M/Joe Fresh over, say, Forever21. I think I’m too old for that one) with affordable-ish lux (think Nanette Lepore, most premium denim brands (7s/Joe’s Jeans/Citizen), maybe even Tory Burch, DVF and Kate Spade) and up-and-coming designers (especially Canadians like Rachel Sin and Caitlin Power).

    • Should also add this: If anyone is looking for designer for less (and don’t want to go to outlets or resale), try It’s a flash sale site and I’ve bought $400+ clothing at more than 50% off (so paying 200ish or less) US-based, but shipping isn’t expensive and duty is included. Big names, too.

      • Thanks Cynthia; I’m sure some may find the link useful. I remember checking the site out after you told me about it. I was looking for purses and the ones I liked best were in the $300-450 range—still more than I want to spend, but a decent savings off the original price, around 30-40% off.

  3. Nope! I don’t have expensive taste.
    I simply wear what fits me and I am comfortable in, and what my pocket can afford.

    Like your colleague said, it can be a curse on the purse…gbese everywhere!
    If you can afford it without breaking the bank, no problem!The problem lies with the wannabes.

    I had cause to severe a relationship from a lady who will assess what somebody is putting on from first glance. Funny enough, she was struggling to make ends meet! When I had my first child, the nurse helped me to pierce her ears with the common pin-stud earrings that is sold in Nigeria. She told me to buy gold earrings for my child when we wanted to attend a get together of friends and families. I refused! On arrival at the party, that was the first thing she pointed out! I know of an AA who earns well, but in so much gbese because of her lifestyle. She has to move in with a relative when she could not pay her rent and her credit is in total mess! Does that stop her? Nope! In fact, she has indoctrinated her daughter into it!

    Life is very simple and easy to live. It’s we humans that uses our own hands to complicate things! Expensive does not necessary equal quality or glamarous!

    I have a habit that put people off: I don’t know, nor recognize designers or gold or diamond, and all the whatsoever, my indifference look and lack of compliment from me, sometimes irks people, that some might think am a snob! When they eventually tells me, what they are wearing, I just say: That’s nice, or you look good. A friend once said, if not that she knew me, she might think I am from a humble background that is why I always talk like this. But the truth is that, such expensive things do not add value to my life! My mum sometimes wondered what kind of daughter she gave birth to! Ahahhaa..I dunno either, am simply grateful to GOD for making me the way I am. Nothing like being contented.And it’s the same morals I am imbibing in all my kids: Live within your means. Save for rainy days. Be satisfied with whatever you have. And there is always an alternative to any man-made item!
    Happy new month Jummy.

    • Happy new month, New Dawn! ♥

      I’m with you when it comes to clothing: I wear what fits and I don’t think of seeking out price, /high-end or luxury brands for clothing.

      You’re right about the gbese factor—this is something she struggles with.

      The person you describe sounds like who I was talking about in the blog post when I said: “There’s nothing wrong with having expensive taste as long as you’re not going bankrupt or stealing from others to support the lifestyle, 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.” It is never cool to judge someone, but on such an unimportant thing such as the type of earring someone wears? Well, I better stop before I start judging her in return!

      Whoa, when you mentioned that some people will actually point out what they are wearing as if they want you to oooh and ahhh, that strikes me as a sign of insecurity, like they’re trying to buy their status or self-worth through what they wear and what others think of what they wear. Hmm, good food for thought and introspection!

      Your words “Nothing like being contented. And it’s the same morals I am imbibing in all my kids: Live within your means. Save for rainy days. Be satisfied with whatever you have.” are gold. My parents taught me the same and despite the choices I’ve made over the years, I’m a better person for it.

  4. I don’t think something necessarily has to be expensive/branded to look nice on YOU! Just an anecdote, but the ugliest pair of glasses I ever had were designer ones…
    Like Ibhade, I am a total cheapskate, but that is because of my personality and the fact that I want to have a certain lifestyle. I am fiercely independent and hate asking others for stuff, at the same time, I like being able to enjoy the things that make me happy (often experiences, rather than actual stuff). So even if I could afford it, I wouldn’t usually travel first class, even if my company was paying for it, I’d swap the ticket and use the change for something else such as charity! This of course does not mean I’d never travel first class, but only if it’s value for money (sometimes we get tickets that are only a couple of Euros more expensive). I will also spend money to make sure I get good quality, because for me that’s also a way of saving money potentially. However, I would never ever buy something just because of the name……why should I pay exorbitant prices, just to help the company advertise? On top of it, many of these enterprises are not even socially conscious!

    • I agree with you! I don’t own a pair of UGGs because, well, I find them ugly, and don’t want to waste my money “just because.” I DO, however, have Lululemon yoga pants (even though I don’t do yoga) because I find them comfortable and perfect for my (ballet) barre classes and when I’m at the gym. Besides, they fit me for the most part and DON’T VANITY SIZE! I buy Stuart Weitzman shoes not because they’re Stuart Weitzman, but because they’re comfortable (and come in my size. Sorry, but it’s very hard to find size 4 1/2 or 5 US shoes). I also shop at H&M and Joe Fresh – especially the latter – for basics. I also support local designers and have been attending World MasterCard Fashion Week (the latest name for Toronto Fashion Week) since 2009 (I’m a lifestyle/fashion blogger). For me, looking at least presentable is important. I tend to look professional at fashion events, rather than over-the-top. However, I don’t get photographed because, well, I blend in too much. Sometimes, I don’t really like that, but hey, at least I’m not going to be made fun of for looking too weird!

    • I feel the way you do, Clara! That’s why I can’t buy designer eyewear if there’s a non-designer pair that looks better on me!

      Experiences stay with us longer than tangible items do, so like Rachel with her honeymoon you’re wise to invest your money on that instead of on items.

      Like you said, quality, regardless of the fame or fortune of the brand name, is important too. Silly example: I kept buying phone chargers from the dollar store and they kept breaking on me—I should have spent the money at the beginning instead of wasting money on cheap things.

  5. I hope you figure out other ways to upgrade your casual look.

    I think that if you have confidence, charisma & carriage (presence), you can rock anything. You can even make ‘cheap’ appealing. These traits can’t be bought in the shop, but they are expensive to cultivate. That’s what I’m spending my ‘money’ on ;)

    Oh, and a first class ticket isn’t a bad idea!

    • Oh livelytwist, you hit the nail on the head: CONFIDENCE is key! It’s what will allow someone to rock something that’s years and years old with style and flair. Great food for thought.

  6. My mom is QUEEN FRUGAL and passed her frugality (is that a word? lol) on to me. I cannot fathom spending absurd amounts of money on something when the knockoff/generic version is so much cheaper. When I was younger, of course I tried to ‘keep up with the joneses’ but the older I get, the less I care lol. Even if tomorrow I became a billionaire, i’d still buy the least expensive but still decent quality product.

    • Lol Lady Ngo, I think many of us can relate to having a frugal mom, especially if they’re Nigerian—my mom is a frugalista too! When I was younger I felt more of a desire to keep up with the Joneses.

      Aww, as a billionaire you’ve got to splurge at least a bit!

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