Tell The World You’re Going Places with these Status Symbols

It is no longer about how much money you spend, but about who is spending it.
Take this study written in the Wall Street Journal, rating what shop assistants in Milan thought of someone who walked into a high-end luxury store wearing gym clothes. Shop assistants were more inclined to assume that a shopper wearing gym clothes had a higher likelihood of being a celebrity making a purchase compared with a shopper mulling around in expensive fur.

What is it about wearing gym clothes that gave that impression? Was it the gym clothes or the fact that this happened in a luxury store? Could this mean we have changed our perceptions on what constitutes as a status symbol – even for a celebrity?

Let us assume that communicating success is no longer synonymous with solely wearing expensive product labels, but rather, about being able to recognize that labels are not necessary. A certain air of autonomy comes along with success, but not necessarily a hefty price tag. This is especially true for the new generation of millennials in the workplace. According to blogger, brand strategist and cultural curator, Jamie Dunham of The Lipstick Economy, the key trends shaping millennial shopping decisions now include more personalization, a rise in thrift shopping, vintage nostalgia, DIY, and purchases with a purpose. Take for example, just-turned-thirty-something Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie, which even has its own feature on leading tech website, Mashable. Essentially, dressing the part no longer means fitting in, it is more about standing out.

Following the key trends mentioned above, here are 5 ways to declare you’ve made it in this world:

  • Personalize everything. There are so many ways to create your own signature item, whether it is a hoodie, a laptop, smartphone, a pair of shoes, etc. Show off who you are by distinguishing yourself and declaring who you are to those you meet. Should you encounter Mark Zuckerberg, what do you think he would say about the apps on your phone?


  • Thrift shop. With the rise of social couponing sites such as Groupon and Livingsocial, it is not about how much you spend, but about how much you save. If this is any indicator, the resale industry has experienced continued growth within the past two years and is currently a multi-billion dollar industry (The Association of Retail Professionals, 2014), with about 16-18% of Americans shopping at thrift stores in a given year. If you haven’t been to a thrift store, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s like going on a treasure hunt and living to tell the story. What thrift store find will you be sharing with the world?


  • Buy vintage nostalgia. Showing off a one-of-a-kind item from your favorite era gives you some bragging rights, online and offline. The buzzwords are retro, vintage, antique, or historic. Big brand, Nike, has successfully sold Jordans based on the idea of “nostalgia” and each year, the company releases limited quantities, originally debuting in the 80s and 90s (Business of Soccer, March 2014), which has driven a significant portion of their business. The level of “interesting” goes up significantly if you can relate it back to some vivid childhood memory.


  • DIY. If you aren’t documenting and showcasing your do-it-yourself project online, then you are missing out on a great opportunity to show off your creativity and innovation. In research by Stacey Kuznetsov & Eric Paulos, for Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon, roughly 90% of over 2600 respondents they interviewed participated in some form of a DIY project or contributed to a DIY community. So put those amateur DIY gloves on and start working, tinkering, remodeling, crafting, etc. Success depends on whether or not you get that DIY project completed of course.


  • Purchase with a purpose. Sustainability is now top of mind when it comes to spending hard earned dollars. Take for instance, the promise of clothing brand, Cotton On: “By purchasing a charity item, you are supporting the Cotton On Foundation and our projects. So you, our customer can be proud of the fact that your purchase is building sustainable futures and empowering entire communities.” Capitalizing on the idea of paying it forward, Cotton On, has expanded its brand globally and takes advantage of the trend towards purchasing with a purpose. What have your purchases done for the world today? Now that’s saying something.


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About Wena Lee

Wena Lee is a graduate of National University, with a B.A. in Strategic Communications who is now a Public Relations Intern at If she's not working on something related to PR, you can find her cycling, traveling, and tweeting @HelloWenaLee.

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