Beauty is in the Eye of the Value-holder

Benjamin Franklin once said “It is the eye of other people that ruin us. If I were blind I would want neither fine clothes, fine houses or fine furniture’’.

This saying makes me think about what is really important in this life, about human behavior and necessities. Is that Celine bag really what you want and need or is it something that goes much deeper, for instance: recognition, approval or belonging?

If you look at Maslow’s ‘’Hierarchy of Needs’’, our materialistic needs are not even among the five (physiological, safety, love & belonging, esteem and self-actualization). Yet, on the surface, our entire society and economy thrives on it. Looking beautiful and having beautiful (and expensive) stuff has formed a basis of the world that is projected in many of the pictures of people around the world on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media. The more expensive, the more show off. Why is our society so fashion and brand conscious? Have we always been like this?

Do you buy something to feel good? Or to hear others tell you, you look good? Or to feel good after others tell you, you look good? I still wonder what the exact sequence is and it might be different for everyone. In any case, my guess would be that, indeed, our materialistic needs, go much deeper and have to do very much with the 4th Need mentioned by Maslow: Esteem.

I can hear you thinking, where is she going with this…bear with me. Esteem refers to the need to feel respected, accepted and valued by others and yourself. Considering this, I wouldn’t go so far as Benjamin Franklin with the word ‘’ruin’’. However, I do think that most of our decisions regarding material goods that we wear or present as ours, has a lot to do with being accepted and valued by others. I believe that with ‘’ruin’’, he means losing the true meaning behind acceptance and value, which would have a lot to do with who you are as a person instead of your material possessions.

Yes of course, you want people to like you because you’re a kind, considerate and intelligent soul (at least, that’s what I want). But what is the first thing they see ? I think it is the statement you’re making with your presence/charisma AND clothing. “The clothes make the man’’, we’ve all heard that one before or ‘’Dress for Success’’. What does success really look like? Who determines this? One thing is for sure, it is because you want others to perceive you as successful, so it has everything to do with esteem (being valued and accepted by others).

As marketer and designer of my own brand Wulterkens, this is the basis for my work. We are proud to say that, people can really express themselves and make a statement with our t-shirts. They can boost their esteem by a certain projection of personality, thereby gaining certain acceptance by doing so, making them feel content and confident.

So is Benjamin Franklin right? Are we really buying the stuff we buy for the eye of others?

The point I want to make is that we should all ask ourselves when we buy something, whether it is to please or attract attention from others or (and) genuinely enjoy it ourselves. Most of the things that really nourish our souls are free. As much as I love fashion and sell fashion, I believe that we will appreciate it more if we realize which need it really fulfills. It gives us more ground. The awareness of there being a difference between the need for fashionable clothing and the need to be valued. As much as they are interrelated and often substituted, I believe true value comes from knowing and accepting the difference. This awareness will allow you to recognize true value that will distinct you from the mass, so you become more conscious of what you’re buying and why. This consciousness is what I think makes you Lead (when others follow).

I know this is quite a different scope on Fashion than one would expect, however, I’m not the average fashion blogger, I’d like to go beyond the obvious. There is of course so much more regarding this topic, much from psychological stand point, even physiological point, where neuroscientists have discovered extra brain activity in the hippocampus and mid brain when looking at a high fashion brand bag versus a regular no brand bag. Yes I’m a nerd and have a minor in Neuroscience. Feel free to comment if you like this scope and want me to write more about this and similar topics!

‘’Price is what you pay, Value is what you get’’ – Warren Buffet



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