This article makes basically the same point: people who can’t afford fancy things now all have fancy things, and the wealthy spend their money on things that most of us can’t see. Claire’s über accountant father cringes when he sees Hummers because he knows how much credit card debt their drivers have. Meanwhile, most of the rich people that Claire and I know dress and behave just like everyone else and live in modest homes. So, I think that class is no longer easily identifiable, except perhaps in the case of food. The wealthy really do eat better.
Some have expressed hopes that Barack Obama will set a fashion trend for young black men. I have two problems with this. First off, I’m tired of hearing people complain about “those young black men with the pants hanging down off their ass”. Young men all adopt odd fashions to distinguish themselves; it’s not a black thing. Two words: the mullet. Three more: Billy Ray Cyrus.
Also, they don’t seem to notice, but there are already black men who dress better than anyone else. I’ve been impressed by the wave of black swells in the last decade. While new money whites wear khakis and polo shirts, new money blacks still make an effort to project class. Okay, maybe Tiger Woods wears polo shirts, but I seriously doubt anyone would call him a slob. And, for as lousy as his music and conversational skills strike me, I think that Sean Combs, he of the manifold aliases, has a strong sense of elegance. Incidentally, I was happy to hear that Combs acquitted himself well in a recent film of A Raisin in the Sun. My first thought though was “when is he going to play Gatsby”? If there was ever a match between a character and a role, that would be it.
But, as a male, I have to say that my fashion plate role model is not someone from Paris or Milan, but from Virginia Beach: I am frequently amazed by Pharrel Williams. Not only does he exhibit a great amount of taste, but he clearly has his own style. Look at pictures from one of the chichi parties he attends; compared to most people his age in the public eye, he stands very tall indeed.
So, I wish the article had made note of this: between the rich whites dressed like they just left a frat party and the poor blinged out blacks, there are indeed stewards of style in America: Obama just has the highest profile of the black swells.