Saturday, March 11, 2006

Instant Status

Okay, this whole column is about snobbery, so if that totally turns you off, move on now. However, it is something that we all have to deal with, and some of us more than others. If we are older, overweight, have a certain accent perhaps, or are traveling out of our element, there are some fashion elements and purchases that can confer status (a higher status that is) just by our wearing them.
1. A Hermes scarf:
I always take one with me when I travel; the scarf is not only versatile (you can cover your head in a mosque or church or just when it is more seemly) but it seems to be recognized almost wherever I go. It can instantly make a black t-shirt and jeans or black twills look more polished and put-together, making you look more polished and put together. If you are scruffy from traveling, wearing one while shopping seems to mean that I am treated better by salespeople.
Buy one with a black border if that’s your basic, with cream inside, or a navy border if that’s your basic. I have one of each as well as one that is very, very light so that it looks more summery. And please, please, buy a genuine Hermes from a Hermes store – do NOT buy a fake. You can usually spot these easily, they will not last, and you will not have the same mental boost of confidence that you get from having a real one. If you care for a Hermes, you’ll be passing it on to your daughter and grandchildren. Buy a used one, if need be, but make sure that it is authentic first.
2. A good versatile bag:
Of course, one universal bag that always confers status is the Vuitton bag, but again, you have to make sure that it is a real one. The best thing about a Vuitton is that you can carry it with anything; the worst thing, of course, is the price. But once again, these last for a very long time. You can buy a Vuitton bag used, also, but make sure it is genuine. Some real Vuitton bags are made in the USA, so that does not mean that it is a fake. Look for the trademarks on the bag, the hardware, and especially look for the tag inside the bag, usually at the bottom side sewn into the seam with the number on it. Counterfeiters are getting smarter though, so buy from a reputable source.
Other good bags are high quality Gucci, Fendi, and also Longchamp and Prada (Prada is great). If you travel abroad, I do not recommend carrying Coach or Dooney bags as their status is not as readily recognizable and they may mark you as American (in some places, I’d just as soon people not know my nationality). Obviously, the more expensive the bag, the higher the status.
3. Shoes:
They need to be real leather or suede and they need to be well-kept even if they are worn. I’d suggest that you have at least 2 pairs of expensive shoes that fit you well in your basic colour (mine are black). One pair should be heels that are plain enough that you could wear them everyday (but you don’t necessarily), but in a style that could be dressed up. The other pair should be flats – a comfortable walking shoe.
When traveling, please don’t wear high, high heels in an airport; they look silly and so will you. People will think that you are an inexperienced traveler or that your taste is inappropriate.
And if you travel out of the country, please, please don’t wear white tennis shoes unless you are actually playing tennis. In fact, don’t wear tennis shoes to travel in – wear your good walking shoes that should be just as comfortable (my loafers are actually more comfortable than tennis shoes and they are easy to slip off and on).

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