Author Topic: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption  (Read 7152 times)

DocCyane

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Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« on: January 27, 2013, 06:09:28 PM »
By rather odd circumstance I ended up at the L.A. Mart yesterday which is the building in downtown Los Angeles frequented by interior designers for the wealthy, and those pretending to be.

I wore jeans, a t-shirt, a backpack and my usual understated jewelry. My partner says I look homeless on the weekends. I'm okay with that.

This morning she asked if I was hurt that no one spoke to us at the Mart. We clearly were not worth the time of the sales people, in their estimation, and we didn't get so much as a hello.

This happens often, especially in L.A. where the exterior is more important than the interior. I am rarely approached and helped in a store unless it's hardware. I love hardware stores.

Anyway, I assured my partner that I was more than okay being ignored by salespeople far and wide. In fact, to me it is a compliment. We don't talk much about spirituality here at MMM or simple living for a higher cause, but that's a great deal of it for me. It is a compliment that I was not considered worthy of the flashy sales pitch. I am not a consumer and apparently that is visible to others as well.

If you have thoughts, please share.


jdoolin

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2013, 06:38:02 PM »
I enjoyed your story, and thanks for sharing it!

It's funny what we now consider insults and compliments, and more importantly, how the rest of the world sees us.  It's very liberating to be free of that concern.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2013, 06:46:50 PM »
Yea I can agree with that.  I'm not a flashy dude, don't peacock or anything like that.  I liked in No More Harvard Debt where he mentioned pulling up to a stop light in his non-flashy car and liking the fact that nobody wanted to race him, or stare at his car or anything. 

Paul der Krake

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2013, 07:22:27 PM »
This reminds me of the thread discussing a secret sign for Mustachians. Maybe a discreet mustache sticker we can all put on our cars. The idea of stealth wealth really resonates with a lot of us.


Phoebe

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2013, 07:27:06 PM »
I love this post and can relate!  In the last few years I have transformed from someone who cared greatly how people view me to not caring at all.  I wear practical clothing (in the cold midwest it often isn't all that flattering) and there is something so liberating about not caring at all how people are judging me.

Just today my husband and I went to our favorite dive restaurant for a rare celebration meal, and I sat there thinking how lucky I am to have a husband who doesn't care at all of I wear make-up, fancy clothes, or jewelry.  And we secretly giggled thinking of all of our fancy friends that would turn their nose up at this biker bar with wonderful, cheap food.

William

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2013, 07:41:22 PM »
This reminds me of a story...

I knew this guy who, while in college, worked in a furniture store.  This lady in her 70s came in and look around the store curiously.  She was dressed in worn denim with no jewelry.  The guy I know wasn't a salesperson so he looked around for someone to help her.  No one came and even ignored him when he gestured to the lady.  So the guy went over and offered his help.  Turns out, the woman just had a house fire.  She came to the store to buy $17,000 in new furniture.  Since no one else helped her, the college kid got the commission as well as a higher paying, position as a salesperson.  It helps to not judge.

Also, there's a store I have gone to a few times after work.  One time since it was really hot I changed before I went to the store.  I was wearing gym shorts and a white shirt.  No one cared when I walked in.  The next day I came in having not changed and I was wearing Johnston & Murphy shoes, a nice shirt with tie, etc.  I'll be danged if that wasn't the nicest greeting I have ever received.

zug

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 07:35:40 AM »
This is one of the hardest parts of being a californian to me - my nondescript thrift store clothes all but get me ignored as many, many people dismiss me without getting to know me. I'm going to work on flipping my attitude about it around.

kolorado

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2013, 08:18:54 AM »
The homeless look? No! It's "Derelicte!"
Personally, I like to look put together when I go out. It's a hold-over from my mom and her mother who, although raised in very poor homes, insisted on excellent manners and a kind and confident public presentation. I feel that the way you present yourself not only reflects how you feel about yourself, but how much you respect others. I've seen the way the public at large treats the people who show up slummy and the way the red carpet is rolled out for a person neatly attired. I can't expect a red carpet treatment for any other reason or occasion in my life so it is nice most times to be treated well in public, especially considering the alternative. It's pretty fun seeing new check-out lines opened for me and workers always stopping to help me find something.
I'm not a consumer my any means, I'm Quaker. Unlike the Quakers of old who believed simple apparel meant dress in the most basic of current styles but all in drab black, I feel that dressing too simply will cause me to stick out like a sore thumb. There's always a danger of leaning too far into the pious territory of the Pharisee's who were criticized as being white-washed tombs. They paraded in the streets to be seen my men and thought to me holy because of their public attire and behavior when they were really dead inside.
Anyway, I buy my clothes and accessories at thrifts and antique stores. My current wardrobe cost less than $200 shoes included. Most of my items cost less than a pair of sweats or even a tee at Walmart. You can look great without looking like a "consumer". Dressing ultra casual on purpose when there is an economical equivalent in attractive dress means you are dressing as primarily a statement or protest. The real question is what do you hope to gain through it; physical comfort, social awareness, revenge, and -don't take this as a spiritual insult- but perhaps even self-righteousness?
I think dressing well has a clear message, that you mean business and want what the place/people have to offer and you want it at their highest standards.

GuitarStv

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2013, 09:37:08 AM »
I prefer not to have sales people prostituting themselves for my money.  :P

plantingourpennies

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 10:00:13 AM »
I prefer not to have sales people prostituting themselves for my money.  :P

Sales person here (formerly retail, now high-tech).

How you dress is actually only a piece of it for how sales people treat you in a retail setting. Your actions, mannerisms, etc all play into how you will be treated. If you dress down, but walk over to a display and start fondling the merchandise and making eye contact with the rep, you will be likely be approached.

If you don't give off "interest signals" then an experienced rep will just assume that you want to be left alone, and respect your wishes after the initial greeting and "let me know if i can be of assistance."

Best,
Mr. Pop
 

zug

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2013, 12:44:07 PM »
I'm not a consumer my any means, I'm Quaker.

Howdy fellow Friend!

WhatMomWears

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2013, 01:38:12 PM »
Here in the Bay Area it's dangerous to ignore someone dressed in jeans or shorts and t-shirts - they might be a tech millionaire! Dressing down is the de rigueur up here - thank goodness!

kolorado

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2013, 05:40:55 PM »
I'm not a consumer my any means, I'm Quaker.

Howdy fellow Friend!

Another Friend on MMM? What are the chances? Howdy back! ;)

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2013, 05:50:54 PM »
The homeless look? No! It's "Derelicte!"

LOL, nice.

DocCyane

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2013, 06:42:42 PM »
Dressing ultra casual on purpose when there is an economical equivalent in attractive dress means you are dressing as primarily a statement or protest. The real question is what do you hope to gain through it; physical comfort, social awareness, revenge, and -don't take this as a spiritual insult- but perhaps even self-righteousness?

Since you asked a direct question I feel compelled to acknowledge it, but I don't wish to engage you further. You value different things than I do. If you want to call me self-righteous, feel free.

Jamesqf

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2013, 11:01:48 PM »
You can look great without looking like a "consumer". Dressing ultra casual on purpose when there is an economical equivalent in attractive dress means you are dressing as primarily a statement or protest.

Or maybe the real question is why you think your "put together" thrift-store look is attractive.  Who exactly are you trying to attract?  De gustibus and all that, but I happen to think ultra-casual is usually quite attractive

kolorado

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2013, 08:30:16 AM »
Dressing ultra casual on purpose when there is an economical equivalent in attractive dress means you are dressing as primarily a statement or protest. The real question is what do you hope to gain through it; physical comfort, social awareness, revenge, and -don't take this as a spiritual insult- but perhaps even self-righteousness?

Since you asked a direct question I feel compelled to acknowledge it, but I don't wish to engage you further. You value different things than I do. If you want to call me self-righteous, feel free.

If you re-read what I wrote you would see that I never called you self-righteous, I merely suggested it as a motivational possibility based on what you said in your OP.
"We don't talk much about spirituality here at MMM or simple living for a higher cause, but that's a great deal of it for me. It is a compliment that I was not considered worthy of the flashy sales pitch. I am not a consumer and apparently that is visible to others as well."
You brought up spirituality so that why I mentioned it. I won't disagree with you that you and I have different values. I don't even know your values. It'd be true whether I did or I didn't since we are different people.
Anyway, my comment wasn't meant as an insult, that's why I prefaced it with a disclaimer. I am sorry if I inadvertently offended you.

You can look great without looking like a "consumer". Dressing ultra casual on purpose when there is an economical equivalent in attractive dress means you are dressing as primarily a statement or protest.

Or maybe the real question is why you think your "put together" thrift-store look is attractive.  Who exactly are you trying to attract?  De gustibus and all that, but I happen to think ultra-casual is usually quite attractive

Again, I didn't say my "put together" look was attractive nor that I was trying to attract. You can read that into my post if you like but it doesn't reflect the truth. I actually do not try to attract but I do find my clothes themselves attractive because they reflect my favorite style elements. I simply dress neat and classic(which is the most preferred style by our business and professional culture at large). Being a homemaker/homeschooling mother is my job and I treat it as such. When I shop, I'm working, and I present myself as a person on a mission. If I subconsciously wished to attract anything it is good service. ;)
On the flip side, the OP pretty much admitted that they do not dress this way to avoid service since they don't wish to have it. That's a good thing since it saves the salesperson's time for those who are buying. What I dispute is the idea that the difference between my put-together look and their ultra-casual look is measured by others as a level of consumerism, but rather by a level of professionalism and intent. A decorator isn't a consumer either in a personal sense of the word. They are shopping for clients. They are working. They dress with the intent to receive good service.
But the OP might be perfectly right with feeling judged on their personal level of consumerism by their attire in LA. Regional societal pressure is something others cannot gauge unless they also live in that region. How do any of us really know what our attire says to others unless we poll everyone who comes our way and get their true thoughts? Where I come from, ultra-casual attire is the norm and levels of consumerism are more often ascertained by vehicles and jewelry. It's not unusual in NJ to see affluent people pull up somewhere in their Cadillac SUV wearing a Walmart track suit with their arms and appendages dripping with designer handbags and jewelry, pricy athletic shoes on their feet, with extravagant nails and hairstyles. Those don't change the fact that their actual outfit cost less than $25 new but they are clearly consumers. Regional experience is an interesting aspect of how we come to our opinions about attire.
There have been enough studies done for me to believe that dressing classic and neat will not offend anyone and is accepted almost everywhere so it's the most logical course for me to follow on a limited budget and minimalistic wardrobe.
Ultra-casual is a loaded term and will mean different things to different people. I was specifically thinking of the folks who wear pajamas and house slippers to shop in or attire themselves in clothes that are obviously many sizes to small or too large. An outfit of a white t-shirt and jeans can actually be quite put-together if they fit well and you don't pair the outfit with destroyed boots, a ratty ballcap or a lack of personal cleanliness for instance. Designers have been promoting jeans and tees as regular attire for over 30 years so it's hardly ultra-casual anymore unless it is in very poor condition or fit.

etselec

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2013, 02:44:36 PM »
This reminds me of the thread discussing a secret sign for Mustachians. Maybe a discreet mustache sticker we can all put on our cars. The idea of stealth wealth really resonates with a lot of us.

...or on our bikes, right?  :)

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2013, 04:08:38 PM »
It's not unusual in NJ to see affluent people pull up somewhere in their Cadillac SUV wearing a Walmart track suit with their arms and appendages dripping with designer handbags and jewelry, pricy athletic shoes on their feet, with extravagant nails and hairstyles. Those don't change the fact that their actual outfit cost less than $25 new but they are clearly consumers. Regional experience is an interesting aspect of how we come to our opinions about attire.


Well, of course.  We've all seen the Sopranos and Goodfellas to know that this is how people dress in Jersey..

Richard3

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2013, 04:15:38 PM »
I remember reading somewhere that if you wear a department store dress and a Versace handbag you're wearing Versace but if you wear a Versace dress and a department store handbag then you're wearing department store.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2013, 07:58:32 PM »
I remember reading somewhere that if you wear a department store dress and a Versace handbag you're wearing Versace but if you wear a Versace dress and a department store handbag then you're wearing department store.

Have you always read crazy women's blogs? ;)

Jamesqf

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2013, 08:56:59 PM »
Well, of course.  We've all seen the Sopranos and Goodfellas to know that this is how people dress in Jersey..

Err...  They have opera in New Jersey? 

Richard3

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2013, 10:14:01 AM »
I remember reading somewhere that if you wear a department store dress and a Versace handbag you're wearing Versace but if you wear a Versace dress and a department store handbag then you're wearing department store.

Have you always read crazy women's blogs? ;)

Only when necessary for other reasons ;)

kisserofsinners

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2013, 10:29:58 AM »
Thank you for sharing your story.

I find i have a strange similar experience. I'm usually assumed to be a sales associate when i'm in retail stores, hardware and grocery stores especially.

fuzzed

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2013, 12:42:26 PM »
The homeless look? No! It's "Derelicte!"

LOL, nice.

+ 1  on this.. great reference, was looking for an excuse to watch that movie again.

sheepstache

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Re: Homeless Chic and Non-consumption
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2013, 03:18:24 PM »
Perhaps ironically, one of the few things I won't do to save money is wear free t-shirts.  My mother taught me that "your body is not a billboard" so I can't wear t-shirts with logos or brand names on them, even though I've been given enough t-shirts with advertizing on them to not have to buy another t-shirt for the next ten years.

I've pretty much found my manner and attitude are what determines how I'm treated, so I've never had any trouble getting service when I need it.

Come to think, could be because I'm on the east coast and sales people might be on the look out for people who are old money on the DL.