In last Friday's New York Times "Fashion and Style" section, reporter Alex Williams made a bevy of dismal analogies about the end of the "luxe" era of living: “ 'Luxe' is starting to look as out of fashion as square-toed shoes," "bejeweled fashionistas are pegged as tone-deaf Marie Antoinettes," and "roast chicken will be very popular." The incessant droning of "recession" and "depression" has now shaped the new trend: "no-frills consumption."
While I certainly sympathize with the plight of many who have witnessed first hand the instability of the market, I also furrow my brow and shake my head at those who are quick to judge anyone who appears to exemplify outward wealth or luxury. After all, one never knows how much another actually spends on an item (consignment store? sample sale?). Poor and rich alike should not feel shame for their financial status, nor should a hard-working individual feel excessive guilt when indulging in a well-deserved treat. And while we've certainly progressed in many ways beyond the rigid frigidity of our Puritan roots, we also still mimic that draconian finger-pointing when morality gets hopelessly mixed in with money.
For me, it's not about the demonization of luxury or the revision of a national trend; it's about Suze Orman's simple but revealing question: "Can you afford it?" The biggest lesson to learn from this fiscal crisis is to reconsider how we spend our money, not what we spend it on.
To read "In Hard Times, No More Fancy Pants," go to