Essential vs. Wishlist – The pricetag war

This past week, while perusing the April 2017 issue of InSTYLE magazine, I flipped to the “my style” page, which generally features a stylish person with ties to the fashion world in one way or another. The page mashes up pictures of their favorite items, pieces, and destinations, giving you an extremely condensed lookbook for their style.

April’s featured person noted, “A key piece in my wardrobe is Cartier’s Tank watch.” I looked to the corresponding numbered picture (3) and saw the plain square watch from Cartier (a high-end brand), with the lofty pricetag of $4,600. Woof, I thought. That’s a lot of cash for a watch.

Unbothered, I pushed on.

“Sandals from Aurora James’s line, Brother Vellies, are high on my wish list.” My eyes traveled to the matching number (5) and the sandals, with a price of $584. I immediately stopped in utter shock.

It was the words “wish list” that confounded me. The $4,600 watch was “a key piece” but the $584 sandals were on the “wish list”? Logically, it didn’t compute for me. I couldn’t look at these two very different numbers and associate “essential” with thousands of dollars, but “maybe” with the comparatively low $584.

I initially tweeted about it, stating that perhaps the person had saved for a long time to obtain that “key piece.” Yet even that bothered me, and I’ll admit it’s most likely a “just me” issue. I personally can’t imagine spending that much on a watch, but I have my own emotional struggles with money and spending it. I can accept that!

I quickly came to the conclusion that I was in the wrong economic class to be flipping through InSTYLE, much less receiving a monthly subscription. (Note: I receive it for free, I did not pay to subscribe. It was part of a deal from ShoeDazzle, which has now become customary–make a purchase, get a free magazine subscription.)

With all that said, I was disappointed to be looking at these very different numbers and feelings. I couldn’t relate to this person, their style, or their priorities. Not to say that’s the intention of the page–surely, they mean it to be inspirational or just something pretty to look at–but it’s still a bit stinging to realize you are definitely not the intended audience, and for economic reasons.

Unfortunately, I feel this way frequently and not just with InSTYLE. Even in a fitness magazine, it’s confusing for me to see $180 exercise leggings lumped in with a $30 water bottle, or any combination of high-low prices. In my head, I try to imagine the person spending money on both items, and I reach a dead end where it just won’t compute, it’s illogical, and I can’t figure it out. Who is the audience? Where is the person who buys both items and what in the world does their life look like? Is it a dual income household? How old are they? How long have they worked? How high up in their career are they? The list of questions drags on, and I can never answer any of them because it just does not make sense.

Even with unanswered questions about marketing, potential audiences, and bothersome pricetags, I continue to look through all kinds of magazines and do my best to ignore the rollercoaster of varying price tags for products. As someone said to me, “It’s like window shopping.” Indeed it is–you just have to choose to admire and move on.