|Bridging-Social-Capital-Mod (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Frugality blogger Trent Hamm makes a case in his article from March 2013:
Quite often, people buy into the idea that expensive items display high social status. If they dress well, have a perfect haircut, wear nice makeup and jewelry, and/or drive a nice car, others will perceive them as having a higher social status.
That's certainly true, although I have to say that even as a kid, I thought it was silly to pay extra for the "privilege" of advertising for a high-end brand. Still, I don't know how many times I've had anxiety over not fitting in, just because I refuse to pay a ton of money for an outfit I'll wear once.
Trent gives some advice for how to have that impressive first moment without spending a ton. I don't entirely agree with all of it, but I'll comment as we go.
- Keep yourself and your clothes clean and presentable -- Well, sure, but he people spending to impress aren't likely to be walking around with stained shirts and BO. My hair at its best won't look like I got a $100 blowout because I didn't.
- Carry yourself with confidence -- Yes to this one... if you can pull it off.
- Participate but don’t dominate -- A really tough balance. Also, you're usually past the first impression at this point.
- Smile -- I don't disagree with this exactly, but I don't want to support it, either; is policing each other's bodies and emotions really any better than the problem Trent is speaking against?
- Step up to the plate when it’s needed and follow through on what you promise -- This one will absolutely increase your social capital in the long term, but your first impression will be long since made by the time you get to do so.
I think the problem Trent had here is he's mixing up two issues: the impulse to impress people on the first meeting, and the importance of increasing your social status long-term. They're both important, and they're not unrelated, but they're going to take different strategies.
How do you impress without spending?
Update 8/19/2015: Minor punctuation and grammar fixes.