Fashion Is Signaling – Of Course ‘Best Dressed’ Means ‘Most Influential’, Not ‘Most Beautiful’.

Vanessa Friedman of the Financial Times writes about her frustration that the ‘Best Dressed Lists’ actually contain the ‘most influential people’, not the best dressed. See Is Kate Middleton best-dressed or best-addressed?

So anyone want to join me in a campaign to change “Best Dressed List” to “Fashion’s Most Influential”? It would unquestionably bring some rationalism to the choices — though then again, rationalism has never exactly been high on the fashion hot list.

Of course. Fashion, cars and houses, as well as manners, posture, body language, and vocabulary are forms of signaling. Pretty is a commodity. Visit any campus. But alpha status is rare, and humans imitate alphas so that they can enhance their own status.

The most popular posts I have ever written were on fashion. One declaring tattoos out of fashion in the middle class, the other declaring the northwest hiking ‘look’ out of fashion. I should write a fashion and relationship blog. I’d get far more readers. It would be trivially easy to write (because fashion is signaling – and signaling is economics). So why do I spend my time on Political Economy? I don’t know. Masochism. No other rational reason.

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