A woman with priorities so far out of whack doesn’t deserve such a… weird outfit

Well, this is a first for me. You don’t usually see me holding forth on fashion; I leave that to the Shop Tart and other respected experts. But I couldn’t resist making this observation (OK, really, I couldn’t resist writing the Ferris-alluding headline).

This was on the front of a section of my Wall Street Journal this morning:

Who Buys These Clothes? They Do

A Peek Inside the Closets of Shoppers Who Pay Full Price for Designers’ Latest Runway Looks

After Ana Pettus, a 42-year-old mother who lives in Dallas, watched a gold minidress with a plunging, fringed V-neck go down the runway at the Balmain show in Paris last year, she knew she had to have it.

She bought the piece—she wears it as a tunic instead of a dress—along with three others from the fall 2010 collection at the Paris boutique of the luxury French fashion house. Price tag: €55,150, or about $74,000.

The Balmain pieces now hang in one of Ms. Pettus’s four closets, joining styles from Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as a $50,000 voluminous black-and-white gown with a giant picture of Marilyn Monroe on the skirt by Dolce & Gabbana. “I buy what I love,” says Ms. Pettus, who is married to the owner of a construction business. “They are beautiful pieces. They’re not mass-produced. You pay for that.”…

And at first, I thought it was just saying the obvious — that no normal person would actually want to wear the bizarre stuff that those sadly emaciated girls wear on runways.

But then, I realized that what it was really saying was, these women actually pay full price to wear these clothes, straight from the designer.

And I thought, “How can anybody waste money like that?”

It puzzles me greatly. Maybe it’s because I’m not the kind of person who would ever become rich in the first place, but I’ve always thought, even if I were a billionaire, I would be reluctant to just waste large amounts of money.

OK, I might be tempted to buy one of those choice little Lexus sports cars, or a vintage Corvette. But I wouldn’t even think about a Maserati or a Lamborghini. I mean, it would just be wasting money, spending far more than any practical use I would get out of the thing could possibly be worth.

And even with the Lexus or the ‘vette, I know I’d feel considerable guilt before, during, and after the sale. Because I would be so conscious of how much more good that money would do, I don’t know, building a Habitat house, or inoculating several thousand kids against a deadly disease, or providing earthquake relief somewhere.

And in that story in the WSJ, well… it’s just a frickin’ DRESS; it’s not like it’s anything cool. It won’t go fast or anything. Spill coffee on it, and it’s ruined. What insanity! And what possible difference could it make that it’s unique? Does it clothe one’s nakedness more than something from Steinmart? No. Are the materials stronger, more stain-resistant, warmer, softer? No! The only difference is a completely meaningless intangible.

As I’ve said before, if I had great wealth, I would buy a newspaper, and run it right (which would be a novelty in that industry), and explore ways to make journalism pay in the 21st century. Maybe that sounds exorbitant, but hey, I think I could pick one up at a pretty good price these days (a small fraction of what I thought it would have cost when I wrote this)…

11 thoughts on “A woman with priorities so far out of whack doesn’t deserve such a… weird outfit

  1. Norm Ivey

    I have never really gotten the fashion thing. I try to equate it to art that you wear instead of hang on the wall, but that doesn’t really satisfy. Maybe I’m just too square. I wouldn’t even get a Corvette, I don’t think.

    Talking with some friends this weekend and everybody started playing the fabulous wealth game.

    First dreamer: If I had the money, I’d buy a mountain cabin.
    Second dreamer: Not me. I’d buy a beach house!
    Me: Amateurs. I’d buy both and several more so I can travel to different parts of the country as the seasons change.

    I mean, if you’re going to talk trash, really talk trash.

  2. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    “The only difference is a completely meaningless intangible.”

    Meaning is in the eye of the beholder. I spend money on stuff to hang on my wall, that gives me far more pleasure than drinking coffee or eating breakfast out would, and probably, for the most part, costs no more.

    I would not buy *those* clothes, even if money were no object and they’d look okay on my body. I would, however, buy my clothes from artisans instead of sweatshop kids, and strive for the pared-down, exquisitely tailored Carla Bruni-Sarkozy aesthetic. There are some well-designed, well-made clothes out there that are worth the cost to me. Indeed, why don’t you just go with a washable George suit, say?

  3. Jackie Perrone

    Probably you’ve read, as have I, that Warren Buffet still lives in the ranch house he bought 40 years ago for something like $50,000.

  4. Mark Stewart

    There’s a big world out there; everyone should lift their head up and look around sometimes.

    I’m not saying what other people do is the right thing; but there is a very large segment of America that actually finds it appalling that many Southerner’s see nothing wrong with going out to dinner wearing three different camo patterns – or would wear a hat with a fake beer tab stuck under a fake fish hook on the brim without doing so with a healthy dose of irony.

    Yes, there are people who have their cars FedExed from Europe because they positively have to be the first person to have one – at least for a few weeks until everyone else’s ship arrives. Life’s like that.

    As the dress-lady is probably aware, spending money doesn’t buy happiness. At the same time, other people are positive that having money would make happiness possible. Who really knows? And why do we care?

  5. Anne

    I wouldn’t do it, but to each her own. You know what I would do with tons of funds?

    1. Beach house.

    2. Buy the arcade on Main St. and pour tons of money into it, not caring how much I lost, just to make it awesome.

    And charity is a given.



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