When I wrote that only certain people say, “wealth whispers” it sounded like I might be discrediting that notion entirely. I wasn’t though. It’s simply that certain people do say that more than others.
Actually though, I’ve said that phrase myself in conversations with friends. And of course what I mean is that when you’re monied you don’t necessarily feel the need to advertise it in the same way as some people do without it who want to appear otherwise, also there’s the knowledge that once you spend the money it’s basically gone. So if you have money you’re careful with it and for some of those people there are expensive things that just aren’t worth buying.
Like, there are certain cars- Mercedes and BMW for example – that people often buy who want to appear monied but aren’t. Or they wear certain labels like Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, J. Crew or Coach (at least in the US). Sometimes those folks buy houses, especially in the US, that are much too big for their needs and/or budget. Perhaps they give their children private lessons the children don’t want such as riding lessons, violin lessons, etc.
However there are many people who drive those cars, wear those clothes or play tennis or the cello who aren’t pretentious social climbers which is part of the reason why you can’t always say that “wealth whispers.” Sometimes people just like certain things associated with wealth and can buy them or enjoy them. It may be that they’re rich, poor or otherwise. And sometimes people do brag, not because they’re insecure but because they’re proud (or for other reasons).
Still, the Michael Kors toting, heavily in debt, Lexus SUV driving person who lives in an empty big house and barely eats (because she’s broke) does fit the stereotype that formed the truth behind that saying. There is some truth there.
Really though I think upper class wealth just is. It can be loud or quiet. And it’s often very difficult to accurately determine someone’s true social class in any direction. It requires an analysis of many things or you have to know what certain very definite but subtle signs mean. It’s finely nuanced and complex. (I tried in vain to explain and therefore examine my own class on this blog.)
For example, imagine a young man who’s parents are both surgeons. And, they’re both very busy. They spoil him with gifts and other treats but ignore him most of the time. He grows up depressed with a very skewed and soft view of the world. He goes to college and graduates but doesn’t do anything with his education because he feels totally directionless in life. Time passes and most of his life is taken up by shopping, the occasional girlfriend and his own sad existential drought. He’s bad with money. He looses it. When his parents die it’s mostly gone. He’s no longer wealthy or even upper middle class financially and his friends have left him behind. He’s slipped socially and their family has gone from upper-middle almost upper class or truly upper class to much less in fewer than 50 years.
Then there’s the immigrant couple who came to the US 30 years ago, started a brilliant company, and with wisdom and hard work became very financially wealthy. And therefore, given the emotional and intellectual wealth they brought with them (despite their poverty otherwise), managed to raise themselves to the upper class or close to it. In 30 years. And if they did it right…their kids will just keep doing better and better. Soon (within two to three generations) even the cruelest snob will have to acknowledge them.
The son from the first example wears nothing but an expensive yet little known brand of clothing. Even when he can’t afford it anymore ($300.00 for a simple yet elegant cotton t-shirt). The relatively recent immigrant lady who started the business with her immigrant husband wears a somewhat loud, hot pink Coach handbag that was worth $300.00 (when it was new) because it was the first even slightly luxurious brand-name item she could afford once they started making a decent amount of money with their business, she thinks it’s good quality and she’s not one to change accessories easily or at all quickly (and she’s somewhat both practical and sentimental). Go decipher that. It’s not easy. Or is it?
Anyway. It’s complicated. And hopefully this is the last I’ll write about it.