In most countries around the world, social mobility seems to have become the norm. Social mobility is the concept that no matter who you are or where you’ve started in life, through changes in income, education, or profession you can change or improve your position in society. In many ways it is one of the key foundations for the notion of “the American dream”
One of the most visible manifestations of social mobility in action are our music stars. Urban music stars in particular will often derive much of their authenticity and credibility from their early lives amidst the housing projects and tough city streets, only to emerge as successful artists and business people, wearing luxury brands as badges of honour.
In this way fashion, and fashion brands, have become one of the key symbols and indicators of social mobility and success. If you can afford to wear expensive shoes, clothes, and jewellery then you have clearly “made it” – in some ways it doesn’t seem to matter how you managed to afford the luxury brands, just as long as you show the world that you’ve made it.
In this article I wanted to take a look at which fashion items and wardrobe staples tell us the most about who a person is, where they are going to, and the image that they are determined to show the world.
A pair of denim jeans may seem like a relatively humble wardrobe essential, but the pair of jeans that you are wearing will tell everyone a lot about you. If you want to demonstrate your intelligence you will probably be wearing something like Nudie jeans; if you want to demonstrate that you are fashion-forward but with a sense of style then you will probably opt for Acne; if you want to demonstrate that you’re too busy to care or just dressing for comfort then you’ll be shopping in Gap.
It wasn’t so long ago that diamond earrings (especially on guys) were the ultimate indicator of success and fortune. Thankfully we’ve moved past the overt materialism of that phase, and a long way past the fairly grotesque trend for grills and teeth adornment. The stars of today will generally make their big investment in watches, and the ones they choose, can tell you a lot about what kind of person they are. Some of the nicest watches will cost you about as much as a nice car – often the more understated the watch the more expensive it is. Bling shouldn’t be a term that is used to describe the watch you are wearing.
In decades gone past, the secret to successful social mobility was being able to conceal your humble beginnings. These days successful people are encouraged to celebrate where they have come from, but you are still advised to be careful to ensure that you demonstrate that you firmly belong in your new social sphere. For this reason it is important to avoid any indications that you might just be pretending, that you don’t really belong. Wearing the wrong shoes is a dead giveaway. Not only do you need shoes that work for your outfit and the social situation, but you also need to make sure that your shoes are appropriately cared for. Expensive leather shoes that are scuffed and dirty will quickly call you out as someone who hasn’t quite got their game together.
If you have aspirations to make it to the big time, then the first place to plan your attack is your wardrobe.