Rich People Now Trying to Fit In by Acting Broke

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Despite the current economic climate, rich people are still rich. However, they're starting to feel self-conscious about their wealth, according to the New York Times. In a time when everyone's cutting back, consuming conspicuously just doesn't feel right. So they're consuming non-conspicuously. Legend has it, according to Why We Buy author, Paco Underhill, someone purchased an Audi S4 high-performance sedan and asked to have the nameplate removed “so only the person who really knew what they were looking at would know what it is.” As for the fashion set, the Times reports:

Today, bejeweled fashionistas are pegged as tone-deaf Marie Antoinettes. “It’s not good taste in our business to walk into a party loaded with the biggest diamonds you can find,” said Bud Konheim, the chief executive of Nicole Miller. “You don’t brag about paying $10,000 for a dress for a party. The feeling now is, so what are you telling us? You’re either a sucker or showing off when people have lost jobs.”


The president of Swiss luxury-watch company Vacheron predicts the age of "bling bling" will make way for an era of subtle luxury, since people don't want to be flashy. Alexandra Lebenthal, contributing editor to New York Social Diary, tells the Times that socialites are embracing sales.

It has become fashionable, she said, for socialites to talk enthusiastically about sample sales, eBay bargains and postponements at the hair salon in the interests of thrift.


Harry Slatkin, founder of Slatkin & Co. home-fragrance company, detailed the harrowing state of his wife's 50th-birthday party. They were going to have it at the Four Seasons, but canceled it in favor of celebrating at home with "defrosted White Castle cheeseburgers served on silver trays." At least in the comfort of their own home, they can wear their diamonds and Rolexes without feeling like they're doing something wrong. Turning 50 is hard enough — no one wants to feel guilty about it, too.

In Hard Times, No More Fancy Pants [NYT]