Despite the idea that we live in a society where more people are adopting progressive ideals, our common tendency to value appearance so much is still very much applicable today. Here at UConn, it is not rare to come across students who strut to class in their Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Givenchy or Saint Laurent clothing articles. Though everyone is free to have their own values and spend their money on what they please, I think we ought to work on receiving more out of spending less.
Walking around big cities, I’ll see huge billboards and posters featuring the latest watch or shoe alongside a fierce face. Elegant and sophisticated, the products come across as sturdier and shinier. The thing is, however, that this doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better quality. Many times we’ll be excited about ordering things online only to receive that awesome new pair of shoes that is three sizes too small, yet this is not money’s fault. When ordering a new windbreaker on Amazon for only $15, you’d usually come to terms with the idea that there are probably strings attached. The jacket will probably be thinner and fail to keep you warm. This is expected. However, when we choose to order designer clothing online or purchase it in stores, it is really only one thing that makes the difference: the name. The petrochemical-derived and leather materials are going to be the same for the most part in any type of shoe, so wearing those Gucci’s for an extra $530 is just ridiculous.
I’ve always known that these famous brands were expensive, but I wasn’t aware of how much. Toward the end of 2019 when I was given the opportunity to travel to New York City with the Humanities Learning Community here at UConn, my friends and I decided to step out of the ordinary and onto 5th Avenue. Looking into all these designer brand stores that each looked like they had five handbags laid out in them, I was overwhelmed. This may be an exaggeration, but it is not as far off as you might think. I couldn’t help but think to myself about how the stores were probably well-off just by selling one item a month. I was also pretty stunned by the lengths people would go to buy things that were quite unflattering and unconventional in a bad way. Doing some research on prices that baffled me at the Gucci store, I found out that one pair of Gucci tennis shoes can cost $650, a simple handbag can cost $3,800 and a dainty necklace can cost $450. This leads me to my next point about how the pretty necklaces I buy usually don’t cost more than $12. These prices aren’t just enormous, they are terrifying.
People will also associate costly clothing and accessories with better looks, but you can easily own the fancy look for much less. Looking around, I find that there are many inspiring looks and cool ideas that people have to offer with their style. A lot of those times, there are no designer products involved. Though “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I think many people would agree that spending excessive amounts isn’t needed to pull off a great look. Browsing around stores with affordable and nice items like H&M and Forever 21, I don’t have to put in a lot of effort to find a pair of casual sneakers that resemble those Gucci tennis platform shoes. In fact, many times there are designer items that look super ordinary — ordinary enough to find at your local thrift shop. This only emphasizes the reason why I question how people could feel it right to spend $600 on a dress when they could be saving so much. Lots of people I know shop at GAP, but because it’s a bit pricy for me, I was super happy with the deal I found at a local Plato’s Closet. I ended up buying a jacket that was originally $100 for only $20. You get the point. I may be stingier than most people my age, but I know I am not alone when I say that there are so many other things to spend money on.
Yes, people do care about looks. We can’t control that. However, people care to a point. In the end, nobody really cares about where they got their shoes as long as they have shoes at all. Though you might be fashion-savvy and genuinely enjoy keeping up to date on the newest looks, it’s still a really important thing that we save up and use money on things that are most vital and useful. I’m sure you can survive without that new luxury tote. You’ll be just fine. In the meantime, you should be thinking more about how much tuition costs, what you’re planning to do for future housing, how much those textbooks cost, gas money, etc. I don’t think there’s ever a valid reason not to work on saving money, even if you just so happen to prosper with rich family members. Not only does saving money help with disciplining oneself, but it could also come to show other people that you’re not out of control or spoiled. Though you can’t understand everything about something entirely because of appearance, looks definitely do help people predetermine what kind of person you are. You’d be fooling yourself if you couldn’t see how wearing name brands all the time didn’t come across as somewhat shallow. You can still be interesting and humble, and you’ll be great in the long run.
Money constitutes so much of society’s problems. From schooling to politicians, healthcare to heating, money sadly does buy happiness much of the time. If having a lot of money and flaunting it is one of your goals in life, then go for it. Nobody is stopping you. In order to get there, however, it usually takes more work and years of dedication unless you are super lucky. Because this kind of getting-rich-without-working luck doesn’t strike very often, it’s better to have a backup plan. You’re probably not rich or famous, but there’s always room in there to become a better, happier version of yourself … without Prada in the picture.
Clare Gomes is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org