The Aspirational Ten-Pence Millionaire: An Introduction To Assumed Wealth

The Chino. The Slack. The Casual Pant. Observed in the wild in its natural habitat; nestled in small groups at the races, the polo match or in the golf clubhouse. Usually a shade of sandy cream or brown, or navy blue, it suits this wilderness just as much as the Range Rover in the car park, or the picnic hamper in its boot.

More recently however, the usual sandy browns have been replaced by eye-watering greens, ochres, fuchsias, purples and reds. Making the wearers and their friends stand out at the private school sports day like a nun on a nudist beach.

As with many aspects of the upper middle classes, they often find their way rolling down the hill, only to be picked up by what has been dubbed, ‘The Aspiring Lower Middle.’

Now, before I continue to judge this large portion of society, I would like to admit to being, almost certainly, someone of the horde. Perhaps recognising it makes me on the ragged edge, but I’ll still have to admit to owning green chinos.

The crux of the issue is undoubtedly the desire to be judged by the objects you own, or the wealth that you portray. Or of course, the assumptions you want them to make. As we all know, to assume makes an ASS out of U and ME.

A Sky+ dish above your new-build 6 bedroom house’s door, a 65″ LED curved TV in the magnolia lounge, having ‘a night in with a bottle of vino’ and finding the urge to post that fact on your news feed. These could all be symptoms of an aspirational ten pence millionaire. Desperately trying to be like your slightly better-paid neighbour, not just yourself.

By no means am I condoning the ‘nothing will ever do’ attitude that James Royce (of Rolls Royce) coined. The ever extending goal of contentment and perfection is something I really do find motivating, to never be happy with the current situation, always striving for better. Natural competition is healthy, but maybe I, as well as others, need to reconsider what to compete for.

‘Better’ and ‘Perfection,’ for this corner of society is often found in exactly the objects mentioned above, the Sky+ box, the 5-Series on the driveway, the coloured chino. But why can’t it be job satisfaction? A strong social life? A breadth of worldly experiences? I’d rather onlookers assume these things about me, rather than thinking, ‘he has done well for himself.’

The ‘ten pence millionaire’ is maybe a harsh term, maybe ‘bargain seeker’ is more fair. Getting your Ralph Lauren polo shirt from TKMaxx is fine, but if someone asked where you got it, why wouldn’t you be honest? And if you’re happy with a Primark polo shirt, it surely doesn’t mean you’re desperate to have the pony motif emblazoned all over it.

In conclusion then, maybe it’s the power of brand and marketing that force us all to compete this way, and make those assumptions about our nearest and dearest. but I suppose there’s one thing that we can all share together, unreliant on class, salary, attitude, rank or bedroom-count. At least we can all share a cup of tea.



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