Simon Doonan Says We Should Just Ask People What They Paid for Things

Simon Doonan, a writer, fashion commentator, and Barney’s window-dresser, notes in Slate that he has noticed more people picking their noses in public and wonders if “the topsy-turvy whirligig of contemporary life has clearly begun to erode modern manners.” He considers if we should update our etiquette books with some amendments—including asking people about their money:

New Rule No. 1: Shout-outs for shekels = good manners.

Nose-picking may be gaining wider acceptance, but posing blunt questions about money—How much do you earn? What did you pay for that asbestos-riddled ranch house?—remains totally verboten. This reticence has never made any sense, and now that everything is so bloody expensive, it needs to be jettisoned ASAP. It’s time to ditch the coyness about what things cost and open the record books.

The world of high fashion is the biggest culprit, as exemplified by those on-page photo credits that announce “price available upon request.” There is something intrinsically bad-mannered about dangling delectable schmattas in front of our eyeballs while simultaneously withholding the most critical info: the price. If that simple knee-grazing pique business skirt is $3,000, then for God’s sake have the decency to warn us. Henceforth, I decree that fashion models, while waddling down the runway, be obliged to carry placards bearing detailed pricing info.

I think it has always been easier to discuss how much our clothes cost than what we earn and how much our houses cost. My mother does this especially: “I love your dress! Where did you buy it? How much was it?” And more often: “Look I got this [brand] and it was only $[x] because it got it for [x] percent off!”

Photo: Viva Vivanista


7 Comments / Post A Comment

Kimberly Alison (#4,465)

I’ve noticed this a lot lately. I mentioned to a friend that I wasn’t moving because I have a super cheap apartment. He immediately lowered his voice and asked “Do you mind if I ask what you’re paying in rent?” and looked supremely uncomfortable.

Trilby (#191)

I’ve always loved that it’s not considered rude in NYC to ask what someone pays in rent.

andnowlights (#2,902)

I usually just offer vague information…

Person: I love your shirt!
Me: oh thanks! I got it at TJMaxx (which is my usual answer, because that’s pretty much the only place I shop at!)

The person can pretty much infer that it’s cheap (UNLESS they know about the Runway part of TJMaxx)

garli (#4,150)

If some one owns their house you can always see what they paid for it on zillow.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@garli Oh I am the nosiest person ever and Zillow/all those other home sites are a nosy person’s dream. However, I do feel both bad and annoyed when I see what someone I know paid and they paid WAY too much for their neighborhood/what the house is.

garli (#4,150)

@andnowlights Ha, well I mean no one made them pay what they paid?

eemusings (#6,021)

My friends and I talk openly about things like rent, dental work, whatever! A friend even recently told us what she paid for her first house and what it costs in mortgage and roughly how much she put down. What she didn’t say and I didn’t feel I could ask was whether she paid for it all herself (because I struggle to see how she would have well over $100k banked for a deposit). There are limits…

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