Mention money, and cue the uncomfortable gazes and unanswerable questions. Then cue the uncomfortable situations and conversations because personal financial situations are really nobody else’s business.
We all know that physical markers of wealth aren’t exactly anomalies here in Oxford. Pastel shorts, Vineyard Vines shirts, LuluLemon shorts and Patagonia jackets are all common sidewalk sightings. I remember one day in December of last year, I walked to class behind four kids all wearing Bean Boots and North Face jackets.
Personally, though, I try to avoid bringing money into my discussions with friends because it feels tactless and insensitive.
Some students come from single-income households or are paying for college on their own. Maybe one of their parents just lost their job. Certainly private information like this isn’t broadcasted for all to see, but it’s just something to keep in mind. Money can be a source of tension and frustration for some, just as much as it’s a source of pride and security for others. Not everyone who attends Miami went to private school, takes annual exotic vacations and sports an Apple watch.
I try to channel my own individual style, but I do own a few preppy items. I like my Bean Boots, okay? Sue me.
On the other hand, some individuals just don’t prefer brand name clothes. They see spending $40-50 on a Vineyard Vines long sleeve as a waste of hard-earned money that could be spent elsewhere.
We have to respect that.
But going along with this, sometimes those people who dislike name brands deem others who do as “basic,” and make judgements on brand-wearing individuals.
I have multiple friends who love their name brands. One of them has Prada sunglasses. Another holds a true appreciation for Michael Kors.
My friends wear these items without attitudes of entitlement or rudeness; they simply like the brands. It can, however, become uncomfortable when others begin to make comments about how much money each item costs and whether it’s a waste of money.
One of my friends talked about a time her friend bugged her about spending money on real Birkenstocks when fake ones could be bought so much cheaper online.
She also brought up the girl’s North Face jacket and said she figured that it cost more than $60. How are people supposed to answer these confrontations?
Once again, in all honesty, it isn’t really anyone else’s business how much money another person spends on clothes or shoes. These are personal choices and private ones. It’s a totally different situation if a girl is showing off her Kate Spade bag and bragging about its cost.
In that case, I feel like a remark or comment back about the worthwhile nature of that purchase might be necessary. But when these comments are unsolicited, things begin to take a different shape.
It’s hard to know how to respond to comments like these because money is a sensitive subject. I think situations like these provide a simple yet important reminder to be cognizant and respectful of financial circumstances found on any part of the spectrum.
Take a minute to think before you speak and remember that no matter your monetary situation, there’s no price on sensitivity.
Tactfulness and classiness also remain free of charge, so don’t forget to use them.