should I avoid wearing pricey status items at work?

A reader writes:

I inherited a watch recently from my late grandfather, and it happens to be a Swiss model which is frightfully expensive — as in over $2,500 new. He purchased it upon his retirement 20 years ago, and its been in the family ever since.

Due to its high cost and recognizable brand, I’m hesitant to wear it to the office. The last time a team member bought a status symbol, it was an Audi sedan which caused some resentment from the senior employees who thought it was an irresponsible waste of money. I didn’t share this viewpoint, but I’m in the cultural minority.

That said I’d hate to lock up my grandfathers legacy in a dark safe, seldom to be used. Knowing his personality, he’d want me to wear it every day and I’d prefer to honor that legacy. Any advice?

Wear the watch.

Watches are usually more discreet than expensive cars, and unless it’s a particularly flashy design, fewer people are able to judge their cost from a quick glance anyway. If anyone asks you about it, “It was my grandfather’s” is a great answer and should put any weirdness or judgment to rest.

You shouldn’t even need to worry about that — your belongings and your spending decisions (if there was a spending decision here, which there wasn’t) are no one’s business. But your office has demonstrated that it thinks otherwise, so it’s understandable that you’re wondering about it.

And it is true that even in reasonable, non-judgy office cultures, there are some luxury goods that can cause weirdness. If you were showing up every day in pricey designer labels and carrying four-figure handbags with flashy logos … well, unless you worked in a very well-paying industry, some people would just assume you were great at bargain shopping. But if you combined it with a status car and open discussion of your frequent trips to the islands and so forth, then yeah, at some point some people would wonder what was up with your finances (were you heavily and irresponsibly in debt, being bankrolled by a wealthy partner, working a second job as a drug runner, etc.) and at some point you’d risk it being a thing that people thought about more than your work.

But one nice watch shouldn’t do that.

Wear the watch and enjoy your grandfather’s legacy.

{ 534 comments… read them below }

  1. Luke*

    Did anyone else immediately think of the employee who got a nastygram from management for not driving a “nice enough” car?

    1. Rebecca*

      Yes!! It’s like we as employees can’t win. Car not nice enough? We must not be spending our money correctly. Car too nice? Again, we must not be spending our money correctly.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        I wonder whether it’s a case of pandering to the boss’s ego – as in, if you become a carbon copy of them, but just slighty less good (to a degree that no-one will tell you and is discernable only by an electron microscope in space!) then you will be reflecting their magnificence back at them without out shining them (hence the slightly less good aspect).

        I come to this conclusion to try to explain (in my own head) why I magically went *up* in my ex-boss’s eyes when I stopped taking short city breaks and went on my first cruise (*her* vacation method of choice), even though it was a budget ship.

        1. The Bimmer Guy*

          That’s exactly it, in some places. In fact, it’s the case in much of the Chinese business world.

          Take, for instance, cars. BMW makes a 3 Series and a 5 Series. The 3 Series is compact, while the 5 Series is midsize (next size up). Suppose your boss in China drives a 5 Series. It might be taboo to outshine, or even match their opulence. So you, their subordinate, get yourself a 3 Series Long-Wheelbase Edition (LWB). The 3 Series LWB is longer than a regular 3 Series and is in fact the same length as the 5 Series your boss drives…but it isn’t as opulent as the 5 Series, so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to upstage them.

          1. selena81*

            Western bosses all like to think of themselves as ‘not caring what car you drive’. But i suppose it’s deeply human to feel kinda flattered when people want to be like you (in a non-creepy way)

        2. KoiFeeder*

          My dad says that a bad leader needs to be the smartest person in the room. Every subordinate being a less-good carbon copy is one way to go about that.

          (a good leader, in his opinion, is the one who’s happy to be the dumbest person in the room, and I don’t know what this metaphor leads us to.)

          1. 404UsernameNotFound*

            “(a good leader, in his opinion, is the one who’s happy to be the dumbest person in the room, and I don’t know what this metaphor leads us to.)”

            Oh, good summary! The way I see it, if she’s the kind of leader he’s thinking about, she’s smart enough to surround herself with even smarter people (actually smart, not just a euphemism for “agrees with me”). It’s like that one story (source unclear) where a good man sells his soul to the devil for a wish, then wishes to be the meanest man alive with no change to himself. Just as in this instance “the meanest man alive” is just marginally less of a good person than everyone else, “the dumbest person in the room” is simply the least smart.

          2. Argye*

            As my Ph.D. mentor put it – only hire people smarter than you. That way you are always learning new things.

          3. selena81*

            Very relevant sentiment for the tech-world where the stuff that makes you a good team-lead is very different from what makes you a good engineer: it’s essential that you trust your team even if you don’t quit understand what they are doing.
            There is an ongoing debate as to how those skills should translate to salary: specifically wether it is fair for the lead to earn the highest salary.

      2. Viette*

        I definitely have gotten this from my peers at work, and it’s definitely a combination of “why don’t you like what I like (do you think what I like is bad)” and “are you judging me for spending this amount of money”. My non-work friends, though, are generally speaking not wealthy, so even though my job pays very well compared to them (compared to most people) I don’t want to get into the habit of doing expensive things and price myself out of the life I currently enjoy. And so I get a lot of comments from my workplace peers, because you can’t fit in everywhere.

      3. Mommy_MD*

        Managers or other employees should not judge with how people spend their money if they are not borrowing money. Wear that watch with pride. Drive whatever car you want to.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      I went first to the poor (not poor) woman who worked at the non-profit and people were talking about her designer clothes.

      1. Allypopx*

        That one was the boss writing in too, right? Not the clothes-wearer? God imagine being gossiped about so intensely for how you spend your money that it ends up in an advice column.

        (Not that there aren’t a million examples of that, but still, ick.)

        1. The Bimmer Guy*

          Yeah, people need to just “not.” I’d be more likely to assume–as Alison said–that they were a thrifty and stylish shopper and would ask for fashion tips…not shame them for looking like they dress expensively.

          You can either be envious of what someone else has, and wish that they didn’t have it…or you can ask them how they got it, so you can figure out how to obtain it yourself and replicate their achievement. I prefer the latter approach.

    3. Office Grunt*

      This actually happened to me. When I started OldJob, I was driving the dictionary definition of a beater – front bumper gone, chunk of back bumper missing, speedometer and odometer hadn’t worked for over a year, front windshield had a scratch from where part of a wiper blade broke off, etc. But now that I’m grossing $32k/yr, I should focus on getting a nicer car, and not sorting out student loan payments or scrambling to find a roommate to replace the one moving overseas.

      1. Laura H.*

        Maintain it well and you should be fine.

        (Only thing that gives me pause regarding passing an inspection would be the speedometer (Also might land a speeding ticket on that front) and odometer not working… but as you stated it’s been that way for over a year, maybe that’s not checked? I don’t drive or own a car so I’m admittedly clueless.)

        Best of luck with the roommate hunt and those loan payments.

      2. A Born Spectator*

        The culture I work in (newly relocated to the area) is the complete opposite. I work in a team with 20 direct reports. Everyone drives a car that is at the least thrice as expensive as mine, mine being the only domestic, 20 year old car in the lot. Some of these car payments are almost what I pay in rent. I do not see the wisdom in large car payments and am very content with a car that works and a savings account. We remote work quite a bit in this environment. Recently, we had to suspend remote work for a huge internal systems overhaul. 14 of my 20 employees called out. They couldn’t afford the gas for the extra days they were expected to commute (they told me this!). So don’t worry about your watch. Enjoy your grandfathers gift to you without any reservations. Sometimes, things aren’t what they seem to be.

    4. Willis*

      I thought of the OP whose manager told her to stop flaunting her wealth by coming in with Starbucks every day.

      1. Dinopigeon*

        I had a coworker earning over twice my salary at the time ask how I could afford to go out for lunch every day. (Oh, I don’t know, Harold, maybe because I don’t have a dozen expensive hobbies, to say nothing of two jobless kids and their SOs and children living in my house…) He went on to express his disapproval in increasingly passive-aggressive ways. Over my $10 worth of lunch daily.

        1. FrenchCusser*

          I’ve been the subject of gossip because I like to travel – my most recent trip was 3 weeks in Paris. It was divine.

          Given I work in education and make <$40,000/year, other people have asked if I have a second job. No, what I also don't have is children or debts.

          But as I've also discussed with the people who ask – it's whatever makes you happy. I'd rather have experiences than things, so I don't own a lot of things. But if having things makes you happy, you get no judgment from me.

          1. Collywood*

            Have you seen that commercial that somehow got through their pr dept where people were hating on a person’s trip photos and asking, why is she there and we are here?and the answer was “condoms.”

          2. Life is good*

            I had a really mean employee at my old dysfunctional office who said under her breath “I wonder who she slept with to get that new car” to which I replied, out loud, “Well, my husband, of course!” Shut that b*tch down for a second at least. It was a modest suv that we bought to replace a newish sedan because we needed more room for our dog. Not fancy at all, but new, which apparently made her envy me.

            It’s so unfair to be the subject of gossip because of what you buy or how much you travel. I just don’t understand.

        2. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

          I had a colleague for awhile who would shoot snarky “Must be nice to take a vacation every year!” remarks at me, since she and her family rarely traveled (not that my vacations were all that fancy- beach, Disney-on-a-budget, staying with family). She bought lunch pretty much every day, had regular mani-pedi/eyebrow waxing appointments, went out to dinner with her husband at least once a week, and often bought nice jewelry. Neither of us is wrong, we just chose to spend our paychecks (which were probably fairly equivalent) in different ways.

    5. Optimus Prima Donna*

      Judgey McJudgerson’s everwhere!

      I drive the same luxury vehicle as our company president (it did stick out a bit but I don’t care, it’s my money) and some people were making some snide comments. He heard one in a meeting one day and had me moved to the parking spot next to his. He emailed a photo to that meeting team of both our vehicles, captioned #twinning

      The culture was difficult because of the industry but when leaders do things like this, it does make for a lot of good days.

      (He did threaten me with a hideous, bloody, torturous death if I dinged his car).

      1. Heffalump*

        I saw a post a while back on a gearhead website by a guy who’s originally from Germany. A friend of his in Germany had owned the same model Opel as his manager. That wasn’t a problem in itself, but the little badges on the trunk lid were telling the world that the manager’s Opel had a smaller-displacement engine than the subordinate’s Opel. Apparently in German culture, that won’t do. The subordinate removed the badge from his car.

      2. Kat in VA*

        BossMan and I are locked in a forever battle over whose car is better. Mine has more horsepower, but his corners better. Mine is 2WD with launch mode, his is AWD. Mine sounds like a jet engine taking off, his is more refined. He handles the razzing good-naturedly, as do I. However, I have an upper model Charger and he has an upper model 911 Carrera. There’s just not a lot of real contest there. I am a muscle car fan, he’s a Euro sports vehicle fan, and honestly, they’re just cars and something silly to banter about.

        On the flip side, another exec just bought a very nice AMG and took me for a spin in it. I loved it so much that I’m planning on buying a newer version when I’m done with my car. I’ve had more than one person tell me it was a bad idea. Number one, the AMG cost about the same as the Charger I’m driving now, and number two, he likely bought his car cash while I’ll most certainly finance a good portion of mine. I’m not buying it to spite him, I truly love that car! However, he admitted to backing it into his parking space for a few days because he didn’t want to get razzed about “making too much money” or whatever. I showed him my husband’s car which cost DOUBLE what either my or the exec’s car cost and said, “Do you think I make too much money?”

        Judging people by their cars is part of a whole series of fine gauges as to how much wealth someone has, whether they’re “flaunting” it, or even if they’re deserving of whatever car they’re driving in the first place. Maybe family is wealthy and gifted it. Maybe they came into some family money because Grandma passed on six months ago and finally cleared probate. Maybe they got an insane deal at an auction. Maybe they lowkey won a smaller lottery. Who knows? I’m sure showing up at the office with a 2020 McLaren would definitely raise some eyebrows into hairlines, but when we’re talking about Chargers, Mercedes, Yukons, Audis, and the like…the differential in cost (particularly financing) shouldn’t be a singular barometer for financial well-being.

        People are weird about perceived wealth, perceived class, and perceived status tied to that wealth. I had a recruiter once tell me that I didn’t really “need” the higher range of salary she quoted since obviously I was doing well, as she’d Googled my house online (which unfortunately still has the interior photos and I can’t get them taken down). She has no idea how we acquired that house or anything else about me other than my name and resume, but made a snap decision based on my house (and a creepy semi-stalk) on how much salary I really “needed” for the job that I obviously didn’t take.

        I say it all the time – people want you to do well. What they do not want, however, is for you to be doing better than they are. (General, not specific.)

          1. Kat in VA*

            The crummy part is I felt almost like I had to explain to her how I got the house (which was none of her business). I felt almost embarrassed to be interviewing for an EA job because, you know, big expensive house…as if someone clearly more “needy” should have the job.

            Or, maybe, not so much “needy” as “desperate” with their BS salary range.

            The job req is still open, by the way. Maybe the recruiter’s creeper ways (or odd sense of judgment) is turning off other candidates, too.

    6. Fikly*

      I was reminded of the teacher whose principal wanted to examine her personal budget to make cuts so that the school didn’t have to spend money (already allocated for!) on school supplies.

    7. Minocho*

      I have a friend that loves cars, with a capital “L”! When she got her first big bonus, she got a second car for herself of her favorite make and model, only in different colors. She even has handbags and sunglasses to go with whichever car she’s driving that day.

      She was very embarassed when she told me about it, as if it was deep, dark confession of sin. I just smiled and congratulated here. “That’s awesome! Spend your money how you want to spend it!” The happiness on her face was so nice to see! She brought up that I would never have bought a second car. I agreed with her, but explained, “It’s not my passion. My car runs reliably, and it’s blue. That’s all I need. I spend my disposable income on Japanese comic books, art supplies and Dungeons & Dragons supplies. As long as you’re not getting yourself in trouble by your spending, buy whatever makes you happy!”

      I don’t get the people that need everyone to like the same thing they like. Not only would that be boring, but it would also make a shortfall of that thing (or sky high prices!) if everyone else wants it too.

  2. MsApril*

    My very first day at a temp job a few years ago one of the people commented on my bag saying it was nice but how they are so expensive. I didn’t know how to respond considering I had been in the building an hour. It’s the main thing I remember from that job.

    Please just don’t comment on others people items. It’s so awkward for everyone.

    1. Heidi*

      My aunt once bought me a nice purse, and one day I came back from the bathroom to find my coworkers feeling the leather to see if it was real. This was one of my very first intern jobs and they very obviously didn’t pay us enough to afford this purse.

          1. Heidi*

            These coworkers wouldn’t steal my stuff; they were just nosy. It’s a small office with very a small suspect pool for this kind of thing. The purse was definitely worth more than anything I was able to put inside it. I think my wallet at that time was plastic and had glittery purple flowers on it. I was barely out of high school.

      1. SusanB*

        I went to a very status conscious high school and I bought a fake gucci bag off the side of the road. It looked pretty realistic. I’ll never forget a classmate in Spanish class asking if she could see my bag and she picked it up, opened it and said “a REAL Gucci bag has a label on the inside. Nice try.” Ah, good memories from high school.

        1. Massmatt*

          My HS was totally like this. I was among the poorer folks in an affluent and very preppy town. The scorn heaped on people with shoes with wear was unbelievable.

          And the ironic thing is, as Bill Cosby pointed out, virtually ALL kids are poor. Their PARENTS might be rich, they acted as though they had accomplished something by… being born?

          I could not WAIT to get out of there.

        2. SusanIvanova*

          When I was in high school Louis Vuitton bags had just become the new hot thing – so much so that my mom, a US Customs Inspector, caught people trying to import fakes all the time. And based on the checklist she had, a good portion of the snobby rich kids in my high school were carrying fakes.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I had someone grab at a cheap purse I had just received from my mother as a Christmas gift, just to check it out. They knew damn well it was a department store brand but “OOOOOOOOH BAG LET ME SEE I LOVE BAGS.” Stop, stop, stop. NO TOUCHY.

        I am now imaging the OP having someone ask if the watch is “real gold” and trying to bite it like a movie pirate.

        1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

          I am snickering loudly at that, imagining the scene where a coworker grabs OP’s wrist saying “argghhh lemme see” and trying to bite their watch. Possibly because it’s a story I could totally imagine reading here, like a cross between “I bit my coworker” and “my coworker tickled another coworker and now there is chaos”.

            1. Amy Sly*

              I love the World of Warcraft emotes on that theme:
              “No they’re not real, but thanks for noticing!” (Dwarf)
              “They’re real. They’re not mine, but they’re real.” (Zombie)
              “Yes, they’re real. And they can cut glass.” (Faun)

      1. Joielle*

        And if it makes you feel better, just assume the answer to “is that REAL?!” is “no” and move on with your day.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          My mom bought an expensive ‘name brand’ jacket for me (on clearance; still a few hundred dollars) while I was in grad school with classmates who were barely getting by. I didn’t want to wear it, until my sister rolled her eyes at me and pointed out: “You have no reason to feel guilty about it, but since that logic isn’t working on you how’s this: Everyone’s going to assume it’s a knockoff” at which point it became my favorite piece of clothing. No one ever gave me a weird look or snide comment for it.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        It’s only acceptable to ask “Is that REAL” if “that” is a little boy who looks suspiciously like a marionette with a long nose, or a rabbit who looks just like the stuffed one your parents burned when you were a child.

          1. Sleepless*

            It’s The Velveteeen Rabbit. (Classic children’s book about a stuffed rabbit who was so loved that he turned into a real rabbit.)

          2. K*

            It’s a reference to The Velveteen Rabbit, who becomes “real” at the end of the book. (The kid’s toys are burned not out of cruelty but to prevent anyone catching his scarlet fever. It was before antibiotics.)

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Oh! I never actually experienced that book. Probably because I would’ve cried? I was that sort of kid.

              1. EmKay*

                I read it when I was young, and I was inconsolable. Why my mother thought that book was a good choice, I’ll never know. It’s not like she didn’t know I was wuper sensitive.

          3. Mad Harry Crewe*

            The Velveteen Rabbit, it’s an old children’s story. The kid gets TB or scarlet fever or something and all his soft toys have to be burned because they don’t have the technology to clean them and prevent contagion. The Good Fairy shows up to console the Velveteen Rabbit and assure him that he is real because of how well loved he is.

      3. FrenchCusser*

        I had someone ask me if a rhinestone bracelet was real and I said, ‘No, it’s imaginary.’
        Ask a stupid question. . . .

      4. 'Tis Me*

        Unless you’re concerned you’re hallucinating. But then you want to make sure you don’t ask somebody who’ll judge you for that…

        It’s like “do you believe in the bible?” – they definitely exist. I have seen, touched and read parts of them (some of which made me feel VERY ranty). I hear it’s the best-selling book of all time. So yes? Oh – you mean the *content*? Well, that’s a very different question and harder to categorically answer.

    2. 1234*

      If I comment on something, it’s usually “I like you bag/shirt/jacket/whatever. Where did you get it?” I would never tell someone I don’t know well “wow that must’ve been expensive!”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I actually had a coworker at my last company ask me flat out how much my Tieks cost because I had so many and, boy, that must be so expensive – I told her, “They cost enough.” She shut up real quick and never asked me anything like that again. People are entirely too nosy when it comes to stuff like this.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Exactly. A quick Google search would have answered her question; however, she didn’t ask (in front of a group of other people, I might add) because she was genuinely curious – she was clearly fishing for a dialogue between the group where people could begin bemoaning the cost of luxury items (which I don’t think Tieks are, by the way) and how they would never spend their money on such things. When she didn’t get the reaction she was looking for out of me (i.e., embarrassment, defensiveness) or a reaction from the people surrounding us, she went mute.

        1. Professional Straphanger*

          My reply to “How much did that cost?” is always “Nothing, I pulled the gun out and they just gave it to me for free!”

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I would never ask how much something cost! I don’t usually comment on people’s clothes/stuff, anyway, but if I do, it’s just to say it looks nice or whatever, not to ask how much they paid.

      3. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Same here. I would never make derogatory comments about how something someone has is more expensive than I could afford or would be willing to pay.

    3. Liz*

      Wow. That’s ridiculous. not to mention rude. I would have been taken aback too! I am a self admitted purse queen. I like pricy but not outrageously so, bags. BUT i’m also cheap and a bargain hunter. I’ve gotten vintage Coach, brand new kate spade etc. for a fraction of the original cost, sometimes less than a “cheaper” bag from a less pricy store.

    4. Not a cat*

      I had an employee (data analyst) whose father was literally a billionaire. I found out from my (millionaire CEO). The only crazy expensive thing I saw him with was his watch, which cost more than my car. (I looked it up) He was really just a nice, normal guy and a great data analyst.

      1. TechWorker*

        Interesting how at the end they’re like ‘for some reason expensive purses and engagement rings aren’t ok, but expensive, non-flashy watches are’.

        I mean…. maybe gender has something to do with it lol. Maybe women are more likely to be judged as frivolous for displaying unearned wealth.

        1. Julia*

          I wouldn’t be suprised. For once, there doesn’t seem to be a male term for “gold digger”, and I’m sure it’s not just because historically, men held all the wealth.

          1. Ariaflame*

            Not quite the same thing but there is gigolo, and the literary trope of men wanting to marry the rich young heiress.

    5. ThriftAllDay*

      If you say you like my bag or shoes or an item of clothing, I am likely to respond loudly “thanks, I got it at the thrift store and it was 1/2 off day” or for a dress “it has pocketssssss”.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        I tend to notice high heels. I love them but can no longer wear them. So I usually say something about ‘ooh, I like your shoes’ and sometimes a joke about how I have to live in sneakers for now.

        Although I did tell the bagger at the grocery store that I liked the pattern on her sweater last weekend. It was stripes and just looked really nice. If I notice you wearing/having something that I like, I’ll try to give a quick compliment. I know when I get them, it makes me happy so I try to share the happiness!

    6. Doctor Schmoctor*

      Yep. What other people own and do with their money is nobody’s business.

      I had a coworker who always had to comment on other people’s stuff and what they cost. Until he had a go at this one guy, let’s call him Bill. Bill had a very nice, quite pricey cooler which he used to keep food and drinks cold when he went to customer sites. We work on industrial sites, so you need to take food and drinks with you.
      So coworker kept asking Bill how much it cost, and when Bill finally told him, he was shocked. “Oh no, I would never spend that much on a cooler, I can buy a new {other expensive item} for that money”. So Bill said “Then go and buy it. I bought a nice cooler, you can buy whatever you want. I don’t care what you do with your money.”

      Coworker dude never did it again

    7. TootsNYC*

      In Rumpole at the Bailey, She Who Must Be Obeyed is very disapproving of someone complimenting her on her possessions. It’s considered bad form to “notice people’s things.” (and comment on them, I presume, not just noticing in your head).

      I think that’s still mostly true.

  3. cat socks*

    I’m one of those people that don’t really recognize luxury brands unless they have obvious logos. I might notice a well made or quality looking item, but I don’t know or care how much it costs.

    1. Nom de Plume*

      Honestly, when I see flashy logo handbags I normally assume they are knock-offs. Terrible, I know.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’m not interesting in brands and labels so I don’t really know anything about… well, anything in that regard, but in my immediate vicinity knock-offs for things with obvious big logos (like Gucci) are the norm so it would honestly never occur to me that anyone could actually be in possession of a Real Gucci Thing. Which obviously doesn’t make sense but it’s how my brain pereives these kinds of things, and I know many others who feel the same way.

      2. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        I do too, especially where I live – where luxury brands are even more pricey (relative to what people earn) than they are in the US or Europe.

      3. CupcakeCounter*

        I just think they are ugly – several of the Real Housewives dress in “labeled” designer labels. I don’t need my belt and earrings to spell out CHANEL. Absolute definition of trying too hard…look what I can afford! I’m special!
        I will say the red soles on Louboutin’s are my one exception…those are just gorgeous.

        1. MayLou*

          Louboutins are the only designer items I’d like to own – but I couldn’t actually wear them so that would be a waste of money in my view!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I found some at the discount overage store once, in my size, at just a little bit over $100. Unfortunately, this did not occur during the time I was actually employed, so I could not get them. D’:

        2. Filosofickle*

          Right. Any giant logo (or, worse, repeating logo pattern) is a no-go for me on principle. It’s tacky and I am not going to pay that much to advertise their brand! Actually, I’m not going to pay that much, period. I’m not cheap — I’ll buy things that are expensive if they are also especially awesome — but high-end brands are not awesome to me.

          1. KaciHall*

            My baby sister loves Chanel (I think) purses with the repeating logo. She owns one real one (ten bucks at a thrift store) and several fakes. But her initials are CC, and she was a very self absorbed kid who thought it was her initials the first time she saw it, and now she’s less obnoxious but still likes that it has her initials. Her sister in law bought her a nice, new one for her wedding gift (she’s the type of person who would never DREAM of using fake purses and can afford not to) and my sister grumbles all the time that it’s such a plain bag. Meanwhile, I do quite well with my thirty-one bag that I bought on an outlet sale!

            1. Jenga*

              Not to derail, but there is no way that is a real Chanel bag. Chanel bags increase in value with age, so even an older one would go for thousands and thousands of dollars (and that’s at a discounted rate). Just felt compelled to say this since I am a total purse fiend.

        3. Three Cats in a Trenchcoaty*

          I definitely agree that there can be a level of label-flashing that can be… trying a little too hard? There’s an attending at the hospital where I work who wears exclusively high end labels, even at night, and wears his hospital ID on lanyards branded with which sports car he drove that day. It is really something to see a man in a Gucci sweater, Dolce belt, LV slippers and a Lambo lanyard negotiating with patients at 3am….

      4. Kitti*

        I have several high-dollar purses ($2000-6000). Why? The husband likes buying me purses and watches and jewelry. He doesn’t get them for the label or logo, but the quality. There is truly a quality difference. Several of these purses have lasted decades. I have two that are over 20 years old and still look amazing.

        However, dear husband knows I hate big logos. So, those Louis Vuitton bags with the LV all over them? Not for me. The big Gucci G. Nope. The only item I have ever owned with a real visible logo on it was the old Fendi “F” baguette purse. I didn’t’ care it was Fendi, only that it was the right size, shape, color, and material for what I wanted.

        At the moment, the real trend for the higher end is for items that do not display big logos. Subtlety is in. It you look at Hermès, you don’t see a lot of visible logos. Or Cartier. Not a lot of “Look! It’s a Cartier!”

        Where one sees logos is on purses that are on the “cheaper” end of luxury. In other words, people want you to see they are carrying the brand. The higher end of luxury is going against that totally. The view – snobbish in it’s own regard – is that people who want the big logos are trying to look rich/famous/cool and trying to “buy their way in” rather than be truly in.

        All that being said, people can, and should, carry what they want. It’s not appropriate for their personal shopping or gifting habits to be a subject for debate.

        Also, we have no idea where someone got an item. I have a client on welfare who has a Rolex. It was given to him by a former colleague who was childless. The client helped the man out a lot. It was a token of appreciation. The client could sell that Rolex for a fraction of the value or keep it and remember her colleague every time she looks at it.

        Finally, there are some items where you are paying a premium for a trendy label/affluence signaling. Other “high price” items are truly better value for the money. I have been homeless. I have been affluent. The items I bought when I had more money or were gifted to me at that time were much, much more expensive. But they last. There is a tax on the poor for not being able to afford well-made items. It’s horrific and unfair. I would never criticize someone poor for not being able to buy good quality boots. Conversely, if someone can afford it and wants to buy a pair that lasts a lifetime, why should I judge that negatively.

        We live in a society that is screwed up with respect to lots of things, especially race, class, and gender. Being poor is treated as shameful. Spending money is sometimes (though less often), demonized. One can’t win. The entire game is rigged.

        1. Kitti*

          PS I also refuse to wear gear that makes me a walking billboard and forces me to pay for the privilege. So it’s not just a designer logo thing. It’s anything where I’m a walking advertisement.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I have three Coach handbags (different colors). But they’re leather, not the ones with the logos on them, and they’re older, out-of-date designs that I bought used and very inexpensively. They are the *perfect* size and perfectly ride the line between utility and retro style. I love them. I love them so much that I hope I never have to replace them.

          1. Kitti*

            Coach used to be a great brand with high-quality leather that lasted a lifetime. Their bags from the late 90s and early 00s were amazingly perfect. I don’t know where they went off the rails. I wouldn’t carry a coach bag now it it was given to me for free. I don’t begrudge other people for loving them, but I don’t see the company trajectory as an improvment.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              The Coach 1941 bags are actually much better made than the others made within the last decade or two – don’t know why, but the material for a lot of those bags is almost (almost) on par with their original models.

            2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              I have a plain leather Coach bag that I got on sale in 2014 (the regular store, not the outlet, I know there’s a quality difference between the two.) The salesperson said that Coach designed it as a 20-year bag. The make of the bag, lining, stitching, etc., is truly superior quality to the cheaper ones I had before it. But the leather was all dried out and scuffed after two or three years, and I moisturize it regularly. It is a disappointment.

            3. Hallowflame*

              Coach moved most of their manufacturing to China in the late 2000s, at which point the quality of the leather and stitching went down. I got this info straight from a Coach merchandizing rep when I was selling handbags in a national department store in college.

            4. Traffic_Spiral*

              I know a woman who inherited a coach wristlet from her sister, then used it for 20 years of weekend clubbing – and it still looks about as good as new.

        3. Camellia*

          This thread reminds me of an uncle who retired as professor emeritus from a prestigious university. On those with PHDs who insisted upon being addressed as ‘doctor’ – why would they need to do that? Isn’t everyone a ‘doctor’? I laughed my bee-hind off at that one!

        4. whingedrinking*

          I’m not sure if you were directly referencing Terry Pratchett’s Men At Arms, but for those who aren’t familiar:
          “The reason that the rich were so rich…was because they managed to spend less money.
          “Take boots, for example. … A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Captain Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in the city on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
          “But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
          “This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

          1. Kitti*

            Yes, it was!

            FYI, he wasn’t the one that came up with the theory. I don’t know if it was Karl Marx or someone else, but it’s been around quite a while.

            But, as with many other things, Pratchett has a way of phrasing things that make them memorable.

            1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

              Of course it’s not an original theory, but Pratchett’s genius was in taking important ideas and weaving them into an entertaining story so that they reached a wide audience. Not developing new theories of politics, economics and philosophy.

          2. Fikly*

            It’s the same idea behind the people who buy a train ticket every day, versus those who pay for a month at once. The month is cheaper per day, but you can be too poor to afford that much at one time, so you end up paying more overall.

        5. Free Meercats*

          The Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness by Terry Pratchett.

          “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

          Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

          But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

          This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

          1. Kitti*

            Thank you both for posting this. As I said, I know it’s not a completely original concept, but Prachett lays it out so brilliantly.

            I think anyone who begrudges people spending on “luxury” needs to be sure they understand that a lot of luxury items are also higher quality.

            1. TechWorker*

              To be fair, I think some of the people begrudging others spending money on luxury items don’t particularly care why others do it, they are just aware it’s not a choice they are able to make…

        6. Ravenclaw*

          I love all of this!

          I’m to the point where I can and am willing to spend a little more for quality items, but I find that it’s so hard to distinguish between what is actually quality that will last and what is just paying for the “privilege” of wearing a logo. Even brands that have, in the past, been known for their quality have started cutting corners. I feel like it’s a total investment of time to keep up on which brands continue to offer high quality items.

        7. TootsNYC*

          There is truly a quality difference.

          I was given a $100 gift card to Bergdorf Goodman once and went through the whole store seeing what all I couldn’t buy with it. (answer: everything in the store except for socks, three different T-shirts, and a pack of six notecards)

          So my friend and I were looking inside all the clothing and assessing the material and construction. The quality difference (from stuff at Macy’s) in fabric, cut, and construction is phenomenal.

    2. Faith*

      Yeah, I’ve never had enough money to even know what to recognize as a luxury brand, other than logos shouting in your face. And those always just seem tacky (and make me assume they’re a knockoff).
      But mostly, I don’t care. Wear your stuff and don’t worry about the brand. People inherit stuff, people get gifts, people go thrifting, etc. It’s no one’s business where it came from or how you got it unless you want to tell them.

      1. Clisby*

        I was thinking about the Audi sedan. I’m 100% sure that if I saw co-worker with that car, I would have exactly zero idea what it was. Even if someone said, “It’s an Audi sedan!” I’d be like, OK?

        1. Filosofickle*

          25 years ago, I worked at a company where the top 3 execs drove Audis — A8, A6, and A4 respectively from the President on down. (Each one gets progressively cheaper/smaller, for those who don’t know cars.) They were extremely considered choices. They believed Audi was the Goldilocks car, conveying prosperity to customers, without looking like they were wasting money on a flashier car.

          At 23, I was like ok whatever, but that story has stuck with me as a way that moneyed people think.

          1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

            “Prosperity without ostentation” is exactly how I view Audis. I read the letter (“The last time a team member bought a status symbol, it was an Audi sedan which caused some resentment from the senior employees who thought it was an irresponsible waste of money”) and was honestly perplexed, because where I live I would never consider an Audi sedan a “status symbol”. It’s a car. A more luxurious car than a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry, but not anything worth writing home about.

            It has made me spend the afternoon reflecting upon the area I live in, given that my thought was “but an Audi is a normal-person car?”

            1. Filosofickle*

              I drive a nice hand-me-down Audi now. They are EVERYWHERE in my HCOL area so yeah they are pretty normal. Though after decades of rather old Hondas it was an adjustment — my “sporty yet practical two-door” identity clashed with “gas-guzzling upscale sedan”. I adjusted :)

          2. extreeeeemely anon*

            That’s why I have an Audi, tbh. It’s an amazing luxury vehicle without ostentation. I try to take the same approach with a lot of things: buying high-end for function but not the fanciest, highest-end option.

          3. TootsNYC*

            conveying prosperity to customers
            This is an interesting outlook. Practical, when at first you think it’s just silliness or ego.

    3. Camellia*

      I would take my daughter to high-end stores to look at handbags and learn what quality and style looked like. Then, when we/she shopped at our local department stores, we could, if we so desired, choose bags that were similar to what we had seen. Best quality for the price!

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, frankly the chances of someone in the office recognizing the value of a 20-year-old swiss watch that’s half-covered by your sleeve cuff most the time is, like… zilch? Seriously, if it’s not a Rolex or maybe Omega no one other than a watch enthusiast is going to notice.

  4. I Will Steal Your Pens*

    We talked about this just the other day with the boss passing judgement on their employee for drinking expensive coffee all day. The senior leadership team has no right to judge someone else’s car – or spending habits for that matter.

    Is the rest of the culture equally as judgy and oddly toxic?

    And to the OP with the “expensive” coffee habit from last week – I hope you are hitting up Starbucks’ happy hour every day just out of spite. At least that’s what I would do. I guess my old age has given me a big IDGAF attitude. Ride your jealousy train somewhere else…

    1. Anonymouse*

      Seconded! I really hate the attitude of holier-than-thou when it comes to money. Why can’t we just be happy that others are doing well to enjoy the fruits of their material wealth. I know about industries where you have to dress nice but not too nice (nice tie but not Hermes, nice shoes but no Louboutins) and that to me is just asinine. Reeks of senior management insecurity.

      1. I Will Steal Your Pens*


        I always wanted a pricey pair of flats (think blue bottoms and foldable). SO what did I do? Every time I wanted to go to Starbucks or Chick Fil A, I took that 5 or 10 dollars and put it in a virtual jar (a separate account). When I earned 200$ I bought them. Could I afford them without saving? Sure – if I don’t want to eat for the month or I don’t want lights. It took me nearly 6 months but I rock them all the time and don’t GAF if people think I am uppity.

        I hate it when people assume that people who wear things like that pay for them on a whim, or don’t buy them at consignment shops or on Poshmark, or the Real Real.

        To your point – just be happy for other people. When you dole it out you get it back twice. A

        And lastly to you ladies and gents who have the talent to find luxury stuff on the cheap, I salute you! That is a talent I lack.

        1. Liz*

          yes! I do the same. My splurge was my trip to London and iceland a few years back. I like to pay cash for groceries etc. so i take the same amount out of my account each week, and whatever is left over, i put aside. I also pet sit on the side, and that $$ goes into my stash too. At the end of a year and a half, I had enough stashed away to pay for everything except my flight.

          I can bargain hunt like nobody’s business :) Its like a game to me.

        2. PNW Dweller*

          Yes! I also hate it when people tell co-workers “I wish to could afford to travel to X location. Hello, we work at the same place. Choose your priorities. Especially the people who are jealous because “well of course they can afford it, they’re married.” I’m single and has learned long ago I can only monitor my own spending and not expect to keep up with anyone else. And I know I don’t know if they can actually afford what they have. But I never begrudge a trip, car, purse or watch. If it gives them joy, I ask appropriate questions (oh, cool, you are going to X? That sounds fun! I can’t wait to hear about it when you get back- said sincerely) or just appreciate their joy. That dress, purse, watch, car is awesome! You look great in it :)

    2. Kitti*

      As someone with major health issues, really good coffee is one of the few self-indulgences I can do on a regular basis without real detriment to my health. If I found out someone was silently judging me for this, I’d be livid.

      I have to watch every single thing I eat, but coffee seems to be perfectly ok with my body. It’s weird. But my body is weird. Allergic to common things, but cat dander, mold, Bee stings, and spores int he air are perfectly a-ok according to my body.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I can do chocolate, not coffee, but I feel you there.

        It’s also been really unnerving going through this thread and seeing that my medical bills are usually more expensive than the price range for most of the cars people are talking about. It’s…. It’s a bad feeling.

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        I may or may not have ingested a plate of someone else’s week-old leftover-from-Sheetz nachos when I was 21 – with no ill effects. However, I drank half a cup of coffee the year before – and got violent sick for three hours after.

    3. Construction Safety*

      Yeah, our GM was denigrating a guy who could go on a call-out b/c he was at the Superbowl in Miami. “What a waste of money.” “If I had tickets, I’d sell them.” I said what he did with his money wasn’t any different than someone going to their Alma Mater 7-9 weekends/fall to tailgate (with their $100k tailgate trailer left unsaid).
      Cue Deer-in-headlights look.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Agreed. I’ve been one to never really GAF myself, but as I’ve gotten older, I have even less Fs to give. Anyhoo, you’re always going to run into people who judge you for things that just don’t matter. If someone is going to judge me for what I’m spending MY money on, it’s not someone who’s opinion will matter to me.

      1. Clisby*

        Yep. And OP, unless that watch is some enormously flashy pocketwatch with a giant diamond-encrusted fob, I’m not going to even notice that you’re wearing it.

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Ironically, here where I live Starbucks is seen as pretentious stuff. Not refined-pretentious, but hipster-pretentious.

  5. Steve*

    I agree with Alison, and if the workplace is unusually weird about status symbols then a comment to a few close colleagues about how this is a deeply meaningful inheritance should quash any further bad thoughts.

    Yet I suspect that anyone who knows that much about watches would likely know that that particular one is older (so not something you recently purchased yourself) so I wouldn’t worry about it.

  6. GreenDoor*

    I agree! Driving into the lot with the fancy car is way more “look at me!” than wearing a watch. As long as you aren’t known for being a person that gets boastful about your possessions or condescending about other people’s things, you should be fine. If anyone does point it out, I’d use it as an opportunty to brag about my grandfather, if nothing else, because how cool is it that you’re able to wear something he purchased decades ago!


      I disagree with this comment. Cars are status symbols but they are NOT look at me. To me, a choice in a car is very personal. I would love to drive a Mercedes and at one time, buying one was within my means, but I would buy it because I want it and because I’ve always liked the grill and the hood ornament. Same with a Mini Cooper. They are cute little cars, but lets get real, I’m not taking it dune-buggying. My current vehicle is a utility vehicle because I wanted something to use to go camping. I love it, but it is not a status symbol.

      1. NACSACJACK*

        The Mercedes represents to me, and me alone, that I have reached a point in my life that I can afford to buy something for myself that I like. Same as when we buy that house or get the cabin. I can afford this.

        1. Allypopx*

          My husband and I are shopping right now for a house, but more likely what we’ll end up in is a condo. We are getting a lot of pushback about “buying an apartment” from family and such, but I feel the same way. This is mine, I can afford this, I know my rent won’t go up, I can drill holes in the wall, this feels adult and good and I want it.

      2. fposte*

        I think it can be hard for us to understand the mindset of people buying luxuries that we ourselves wouldn’t, and as a result we often guess wrong at the motivations for those choices.

        1. ThatMarketingChick*

          This needs to be pinned to the top of the thread.

          And same goes for what people choose *not* to spend money on (insert RHONJ Jennifer/Jackie reference here).

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I’m gonna argue that if you’re driving a Lamborghini, that’s a very big “look at me!”

        1. Peachywithasideofkeen*

          Especially if it is lime green, like the Lamborghini that lives in my parking garage! I didn’t know what it was, but I made a comment about how ugly it was to my husband, who looked at me aghast for calling such an expensive car ugly (sorry, it’s very ugly!). That being said, there definitely luxury cars that are not “look at me!” cars, so as long as you don’t casually bring it up the make all the time (like one of my bosses), it can be a more subtle luxury item to own as well.

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      Hmmmm – I can get a $50 Casio that is more accurate than a Rolex.

      Traveling some distance in a $80K Audi sedan is a helluva different experience than doing the same in a $20K Hyundai. Not that the latter is a bad car or a bad value – it might be a better value. But the feeling in a big luxury sedan is very very noticeable.

      I don’t have a Rolex – and certainly if you stare at one you’ll see amazing details and beauty. But for telling time? Nope, not better than a good quartz watch.

  7. Richard Hershberger*

    I would never even notice that the LW was wearing a watch, much less an expensive one, unless it were totally blinged out with diamonds or something silly like that. I’m sure there are people who obsess about other peoples’ watches, but I’m less sure that anyone should care what those people think of it.

    1. Clever Name*

      People who notice watches really notice. My husband has a “Rolex” that he bought off a guy on the street for $20. But it is a decent facsimile to an actual Rolex that (I just looked up), retails for about $6,000. It had diamonds instead of numbers, and a beautiful blue face.

      I know nothing about watches and don’t care. I thought that watch was hilarious and pretty and when big watches came in style for women I used to wear it all the time. I was in a meeting once and couldn’t figure out why the guy kept looking at my arm. Later that day I realized he couldn’t figure out how a marketing assistant could be wearing a $6,000 watch. Watch people really notice. Most other people don’t.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        I will sometimes look to see if somebody is wearing a watch if I want to know the time and don’t have my phone on me?

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          I sometimes look to see whether someone is wearing a watch in order to spot fellow left-handed people, but I never have a clue what kind of watch it is.

      2. Bluesboy*

        “Watch people really notice. Most other people don’t.”

        Exactly. I have a Baume & Mercier that retailed at about €1700, which I could never have afforded, except that I have a friend who works there and around Christmas could buy end of the line watches with a 70% discount.

        Literally the ONLY people who have ever noticed or commented on it were genuinely passionate about watches. On all three occasions, they asked politely if they could look at it and complimented me on it. All of them were wearing expensive watches themselves.

        I would be interested to know the brand of the OPs watch. I think if it isn’t a Rolex or a Cartier, they will find that nobody actually notices (unless it’s really bling), as in my case. Rolex and Cartier are a bit different as everyone knows them.

    2. Sleepless*

      People notice watches a bit more than I would have thought. My husband has a Tag Heuer from a…very different financial period of our lives. I had never in my life noticed somebody else’s watch, but people comment on it every now and then.

      1. ggg*

        I once overheard a very loud conversation by two women discussing at length, how they could never date a man with a cheap, crappy watch. It was hilarious.

      2. seconded*

        I have so many things like that. When coworkers get into talking about any of my possessions, mentally I’m like… Wow… you really have no clue. You many have been able to buy The Thing 20 years ago- but you might have washed it in cold for 20 years, or been extra delicate about its use, or it may be The One Purse Appropriate for Work.

  8. Allypopx*

    My husband bought me a nice diamond necklace on our honeymoon and I hesitate to wear it at my low paying, frugal non-profit culture. It draws the wrong kind of attention and I hate having to navigate snide comments. I’ve also heard really negative comments from higher-ups in the past (not at this job) about certain employees not needing raises because they drive nice cars or take frequent vacations or something.

    People suck. People will suck regardless. Wear your watch.

    1. SufferinSuccotash*

      as a former non-profit employee I’ve def seen and felt this before! My old supervisor left a super well paying position for our tiny 501(c)(3) and her work attire/accessories were the subject of side-eyes and gossip for a good long time. If she had known about that aspect of the culture she prob would have tried to mitigate it by dressing down a bit.

      1. Allypopx*

        Which is ridiculous, because that could very well mean she’d have to spend more money on more ‘dressed down’ clothing. Maybe not, some things can be dressed down more easily and you can definitely forego the accessories. But she shouldn’t have to. I hate culture things like this.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        That makes no sense to me! Obviously everyone knows she came from the public sector where norms are different than at a non-profit. What was she supposed to do? Throw out all her fabulous clothes and buy an entire new mid-level wardrobe? Seems like a waste to me.

        1. Allypopx*

          Yeah a lot of places would think she was ‘showing off’ or somehow condescending to them with her expensive items. It just puts her in the “other” category. I agree it doesn’t make sense. But it’s not uncommon.

      3. andy*

        Or maybe she would wear it still, cause not everyone likes to be driven by people like that. If the clique has power then you have to, but if they don’t, you don’t have to let them dominate you.

        Or she would decide to work elsewhere.

      4. kt*

        Sometimes I feel weird wearing my old ‘fancy’ clothes at my new job, which has more a software industry vibe. I try to be sensitive to how I’m perceived in that I don’t want to be “a poor fit”, but at the same time, darnit, I HATE SHOPPING FOR PANTS AND THESE FIT, OK. Yes, I paid $175 for one of those pairs of pants (and the rest were half off). You want me to throw them away to buy jeans? No. It’s not like jeans that fit me are easy to find or cheap.

      5. Lifelong student*

        I left one job for another- both at non-profit organizations. I was 62 years old and had been married over 40 years. I am frugal but have acquired nice classic clothes and jewelry over the years. After I left there, I heard several times that my jewelry was a subject of frequent comment. I did not wear it to impress- I wore it because I valued the pieces. I am not dressing down or up to please anyone else!

    2. Artemesia*

      But would you wear a diamond necklace in the daytime to work anyway? And in the evening at an event, people will probably assume it is rhinestones.

      1. nona*

        I’m assuming it’s a diamond solitaire on a chain (or something relatively simple). Which is not out of bounds for daytime wear.

        1. Allypopx*

          Yeah it’s not a diamond collar or anything, it’s a simple pendant. Still I’ve mostly worn it to evening events and that’s where I’ve gotten the bulk of the side-eye. But I would consider it perfectly acceptable for a nice lunch or a slightly dressier office day.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            It’s crazy that you’re getting side eye at all. It was a lovely gift from someone who loves you, and people who are mad at you for having it are weird.

          2. Mia 52*

            Its super weird that people who by their own admission would never buy or wear a diamond can so KEENLY spot real diamonds. Give me a break lol. Wear your diamond!!!

      2. Kitti*

        According to strict etiquette, you are correct. This is not, however, likely to be a showpiece necklace.

        I think the “no diamonds, emeralds, rubies, or sapphires” in the daytime rule is from a time where only the rich had these and they were only set in showpiece necklaces. In this day and age, a lot of women have smaller stones set in a subtle piece.

        IMHO, the basis of the old rule was “no bling in the daytime.” If it’s not bling, then it’s ok.

        1. LavaLamp*

          I have a single solitaire diamond that I wear often because it’s very simple and not in your face. It was the first diamond my grandpa gifted my grandma and she gave it to me when I graduated high school.

        2. SomebodyElse*

          Oh goodness.. diamonds go with everything. I bought my niece her first set of diamond studs for her 16th birthday and when I was talking to her, I told her to ignore everyone who tells you different… they are intended to be worn, not stuffed away for a nice event.

        1. Ey-not-Cy*

          I do, I have my MIL’s wedding ring diamonds reset into a necklace that I wear. I also have my mother’s. They are pretty, not extravagant. I work in a rural high school, no one has ever said anything other than, “ooh–that’s pretty.” Especially when I tell them where they came from. (MIL deceased, Mom got new rings and gifted me with the old ones as a necklace for my 40th b-day.)

          1. Aurora Borealis*

            I wear my grandmother’s wedding ring daily. It has 16 diamonds, much flashier than my usual taste but I’ll be damned if I take it off for a busybody. And I work in an office where business casual is jeans and a flannel shirt. I think it makes a great contrast.

  9. Shramps*

    My coworker wore a Gucci belt on her first day and I definitely noticed. She looked a little out of place in our low key business casual office, she hasn’t worn it since. She has worn her Chanel scarf more often. I notice (but didn’t say anything, duh) because I absolutely love labels and fashion.

    Judgy people judge! You can’t stop them. Live authentically and if you’re going to be bougie, try not to be completely out of touch. Wearing an expensive watch does not cross that line.

    1. Jdc*

      I wear Gucci belts with jeans anytime i wear them. I do not give one care if someone thinks it’s expensive. It was. And?

        1. Short Time Lurker Komo*

          The ‘And’ at the end of their statement is directed to the judgey people who would say something to Jdc is being flashy wearing a Gucci belt.

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        If I could afford a Gucci belt I’d also wear it with jeans :) probably H&M jeans and a Woolworths T-shirt. Why not enjoy the things you have? You don’t have to splash them about.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      One of my coworkers has the most gorgeous silk scarves and incredible shoes. I’m mostly just hoping I can be like her when I’m in my 40s, because she is so intensely stylish.

  10. Antilles*

    I think watches are kind of in their own unique category, since so many of them are legacy items (as OP’s is) that people wouldn’t immediately jump to “frivolous spending” or “waste of money” or something the way they might with other luxury purchases.
    it was an Audi sedan which caused some resentment from the senior employees who thought it was an irresponsible waste of money
    Total side note, but are Audi sedans really THAT expensive? Not a car guy, so I might be off base here, but my impression was that it was financially in the same neighborhood as a nice minivan or truck – somewhere around the $40k-$50k range. Not frugal like a Civic or Altima, but not something like a Ferrari or Maserati that jumps out as “whoa, you spent how much???”.

    1. Autumnheart*

      A $50K car is pretty flippin’ expensive. I don’t know a lot of people who could shrug off a $1000/mo car payment.

      1. Me*

        I had close to a 50k car loan at one point and my payments were closer to 650. There’s also leases.

        The reality is, different people like to spend money on different things. Some don’t bat an eye at upgrading their phone constantly, or paying for pricey activities for their kids. Others chose to spend their funds differently and that may be on cars.

        It’s also dependent on area. In the DC metro area where I live many people can afford much more than a 50k car. And that also means there’s lots of used for way cheaper than new.

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          This, 100%. In the cities I grew up in, Louis Vuitton bags are incredibly common. They’re also like, 2 grand. Do I want to spend 2 grand on a purse? No! Does it mean that someone else shouldn’t? No!

          Sometimes people save up to get their items. Sometimes they rack up credit card debt. Sometimes they just casually have a lot of money, and it’s none of my business where they get it!

          1. AnonInNYC*

            As someone who’s very into the economics of luxury goods, I have to say that most luxury goods did not use to cost nearly as much as they do now. A classic Chanel flap costs ~$5000 when it was nearly half that ten to fifteen years ago. Same for LV. I received a Neverfull for my eighteenth birthday from my parents when LV was $800 when exchanged from it’s price in euros. The same bag now is about $1600 and it’s only been ten years.

          2. Liz*

            Yes. I absolutely hate the attitude that certain things are expensive, and not worth the money. Yes, for some people, that’s true? But I’ve found those people spend money on other things that some have no interest in.

            I was visiting a friend a couple of years ago. She admired my bag and I said i got it cheap on Poshmark, which I had. She then commented she never spends more than $20 on her purses. not being judgmental, but just conversational. But her husband also bought her a $300 kayak for her birthday. that’s their priority, while bags are mine!

            1. The Original K.*

              Yeah, people spend money differently. I had a coworker who had just bought a pair of expensive designer sunglasses that she was excited about. I’ve never spent more than $20 on a pair of sunglasses because I lose them or break them so often (although I’ve had my favorite pair for a few years now!), so a pair of sunglasses that costs three digits (or more!) is completely wasted on me. But I just said “They look good! Glad you like them!” and got on with my day. How she spends her money has nothing to do with me.

              1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

                THIS!!! This and the kayak comment above it!
                Can we find a way to condense the entire sentiment into a few words to be air dropped into everyone’s head around the world.

                People have different financial priorities. What they spend their money on is of no concern of yours or mine (unless it’s engaging in criminal and/or dangerous to me behaviour, then I reserve the right to judge said behaviour, but still not their spending habits!)

              2. Bluesboy*

                My wife always loses and breaks her sunglasses too, so she also never gets a nice pair. But we found the solution! I buy a nice pair for myself, she borrows them because she has lost hers. Because she never finds her original ones, she ‘takes over’ my pair, but because they are technically mine, somehow that stimulates her to remember to take care of them!

                We have since moved on to the same policy for scarves and umbrellas. She has had one of my scarves now for five years, where before this discovery she rarely managed to keep one for more than a month!

                I think handbags aside, at least half her accessories are now theoretically mine (we have a joint account, so there isn’t really a mine/yours but you know what I mean).

            2. whingedrinking*

              Exactly. I had a coworker once who had recently started dating a chef, and she asked me in perfect earnestness, “You like cooking, right? I’m thinking about getting my boyfriend a knife for his birthday. Is $50 too much?”
              I did my best to respond without sounding snarky, because while a fifty-dollar knife would be fine for your average home cook, it wouldn’t be considered expensive. If I were shopping for myself – and I am merely a passionate amateur, not a pro – I would expect to spend at least twice that for a chef’s knife or a santoku, probably closer to three or four times. And it’s certainly not impossible to find steel that goes well above that.
              Do I *need* knives that cost that much? No, of course not, and for people who aren’t super into cooking I don’t think it would make a difference. For myself, I own about five really good knives, a couple of which were gifts and all of them chosen with care, and I expect to have them for the rest of my life. To me, that’s worth it.
              (FWIW, for a pro, fifty bucks is probably exactly the wrong amount to spend. As I said, it’s less than you would expect to pay for something really high quality, but just a little too much for a scut knife for like, breaking apart pieces of meat that are frozen together. Every professional kitchen has a bunch of cheap knives that are there to be abused and lost.)

              1. PhyllisB*

                This comment about knives reminds me of when I got married. My dad, who used to be a butcher and knew his way around a good knife) gave me $100.00 with the express instructions to use ALL of it on a set of good knives . And that he expected to examine said knives after I bought them to make sure I didn’t cheap out.
                Now that doesn’t sound like much in this day and time, but in 1976 this was a lot of money to spend on a set of knives. (For context, I think our rent at the time was maybe $125.00/m.) I did as he requested, and 44 years later I still have all but two of them. Quality does pay.

              2. Marillenbaum*

                Having lived in the South for a while, I was always told you don’t give a knife as a gift, because it cuts the relationship in two!

                1. whingedrinking*

                  I gave a knife as a wedding present to my best friend and we’re still on track to become a pair of cackling old biddies together, so to each their own. :)

          3. Timothy (TRiG)*

            I will admit that part of me thinks that anyone willing to spend two grand on a purse should be first against the wall when the revolution comes ….

            1. Ugh*

              It’s none of your damn business how people spend their money so maybe you and that rude judgy attitude should be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

              1. whingedrinking*

                Getting judgey about the individual purse-buyer isn’t cool, but being bothered by the fact that some people have the option of buying a $2000 purse (or TV, or whatever) while others have the “option” of choosing between groceries and rent this month is hardly rude.

            2. Stella*

              This is totally a gender thing. Things that are equally frivolous: two grand on the full set of Oxford dictionaries. Two grand on a smartphone and accessories. Two grand to get fancier seats in your car. Two grand to go on vacation. Two grand for a big TV to watch the big game. Two grand to fix a few dents in your car. Two grand to fix the plumbing in the house you own instead of renting. Two grand in rent instead of living in a tent. I sure wouldn’t spend two grand on a purse, but as a woman, this kind of thing can actually pay off because women are judged so much on appearance. And I say this as someone who has a $15 fanny pack instead of a purse. A lot of people have spent more on more useless things if you think about the cost per time in use. If you like purses, having a great purse could make a big difference because most women with purses have their purses with them almost all the time. Think about it. Two grand on a TV or two grand on a purse.

              1. Timothy (TRiG)*

                Two grand on a TV or two grand on a purse.

                I wouldn’t spend much (or anything) on either, but that’s my priorities. You’re right, of course; I was just reporting on what a little voice in the back of my head was saying. I don’t necessarily agree with that voice.

                I could probably have worded that better.


          4. Julia*

            Half of Tokyo carries Louis Vitton. In fact, the second hand stores have BINS full of the things.

            I finally caved and got myself a few outlet or second hand Coach bags because I was tired of replacing cheap bags every week months (the straps kept ripping on me – I carry a lot of stuff) and love them because the colors and functionality are what I wanted. LV though… Not my thing.

            1. PhyllisB*

              I’ve mentioned my Coach loafers on here before. I have one pair that has a Gucci-like pattern on them. I wore them to lunch with a friend and our waiter nearly had a heart attack over them. He kept asking me where I got them and how awesome they were, ect. I was um, thanks? I got them because I liked them and they’re comfortable. And they came from an outlet store.

        2. Sharkie*

          Yep. I grew up in DC and my parents still live there. That was the biggest shocks when I moved to a different city- people don’t spend the same type of money on cars elsewhere. Our parking lot at work has a few 15+ year old cars and they are not out of place at all here.

      2. hamsterpants*

        As others have said, it totally depends on what you value. I know many people who live in prefab houses and never travel but drive pickup trucks with every aftermarket accessory.

        1. Renata Ricotta*

          Exactly, and I have law school classmates who widen their eyes at how often I travel internationally, but simultaneously sniff at my old dented Civic and the fact that I still have a roommate. Most people* can have some nice things but not ALL the nice things, and different people will obviously pick different types of expenditures that they care about.

          *Obviously not commenting on either the 1%ers who can have basically all the nice things, nor the people struggling near the poverty line who have little to no room for indulgences. But there’s millions of us in the middle of that.

      3. Antilles*

        True, $40k-$50k is certainly expensive…but in the world of “new cars”, it’s firmly in the mid-tier.
        I mean, if you walk by a Honda minivan in the parking lot with temporary plates, you probably don’t even give it a second glance…but depending on your incentives and the loadout, the minivan could easily be firmly in that price range.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I don’t know, same goes for people who can purchase real estate.

        Some people come from money. Some people have investments. Some people know people. Sometimes you don’t ever eat out because you would rather drive a 50k car, shrug. If I cut my costs in some places, I could indeed afford that but I don’t want to.

        People get this way with me when I go to visit and get a hotel room. “Oh no, that’s expensive.” It’s really not though. I save up for it.

    2. Nom de Plume*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought this. I mean, I guess Audis are nice cars, and are more “luxury” than say a Kia, but they’re not a head-turning flashy car like a Maserati or even a Mercedes.

      1. Mediamaven*

        Total semantics and not relevant to the letter but Audis are honestly the same price as a Mercedes model to model, and Maserati too.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          My husband knows a guy who owns a high end car repair shop. I was surprised that Maseratis weren’t really that pricey.

      1. Kitti*

        Husband has a brand new Porsche. It cost him less than our neighbor’s Ford b/c it was the dealer model and had been driven a few hundred miles. Fortunately, the dealer had a very strict no-smoking or eating policy, so the car was essentially pristine. We also got a ton of extra warranty extensions, etc.

        List price is not always what people end up paying. A lot of luxury cars can be purchased for far below list price in the right situations.

        It’s not correct to say a Porsche is more expensive than a Ford. Which model? They have made a few that were six figures. New or used? What incentives did the dealer give for purchase. Yes, generally they are more expensive, but not always.

        1. Kitti*

          PS This car purchase is yet another example of how those with cash and connections end up paying a lot less than those without. DH got a much nicer car for a lot less than our neighbor b/c my husband is acquainted socially with the owner of said Porsche dealerships and they specifically were on the lookout for a high-quality dealer model.

          Ironically, the weather one is, the more free stuff and the better deals they get. You have to not need free stuff to get free stuf. It’s instance.

        2. Le Sigh*

          Yeah, my friend bought a used, older Porsche off a guy for not a lot when he was in his mid-20s. He didn’t pay a lot for it — it was a model known for issues and this car certainly had them. But he bought it cause he loves cars and wanted to tinker with it and tool around in it, and it was a fun, inexpensive way to for him to do that.

    3. Me*

      And you know cars do come used. I drive my “fancy honda” which is a used Acura I got for a great price used.

      Maybe we should all just spend less time making up ideas about people in our heads.

        1. Me*

          What a silly idea. Who works to work?

          Seriously though I’m not remotely interested in my coworkers personal lives. That’s so much wasted energency.

      1. 1234*

        I also got the same brand of “fancy Honda” for a great price.

        I once showed up to a temp job, with offices located in Rich Neighborhood in my “fancy Honda” and the point of contact was meeting us outside the building to escort us in. I rolled up in my fancy Honda and she was standing in the middle of the street waiting for the temp staff. I stopped right next to her, rolled down the winder, and said “Hi, are you Jane? Great, I’m 1234 and here to work with you on your llama grooming project.” She kept staring at the front of my car and back at me and finally said “Ok, please park in this lot.” while pointing over in some direction to my left.

        She was meeting temp staff outside of the building. I was temp staff. IDK what she was expecting? Should I be driving some beat up vehicle?

      2. Artemesia*

        My husband has driven BMWs for years and all of them were used, some rather cheap, others expensive but about half what a new one would cost — and he drives them till they expire. Our current car is 15 years old.

        1. whomever*

          I have a good friend who collects vintage BMWs from the 60s (a quirky hobby he admits), and pays almost nothing for them. Old Rolls Royces are surprisingly cheap also (but be warned, they break down all the time).

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yeah I bought a used Acura years ago and didn’t realize it was classified as “luxury” vehicle. I just thought it drove fine and had good mileage for their asking price.

        When we looked up the “New” prices, only then did we figure that out.

        I only ever buy previously owned vehicles. I like someone else breaking them in for me.

        1. Stella*

          I remember being surprised as a kid to learn that two door cars were more expensive than four door cars because they look sportier. It just seemed obvious four doors would be more expensive because it is so much more convenient.

          1. Amy Sly*

            I love that manual transmissions are cheaper than automatics. For the same price, I can get 10K fewer miles, plus my car is less likely to get stolen?* Sign me up!

            *Seriously. I’ve had two people break into my stick shifts only to realize they didn’t know how to drive them.

    4. Mediamaven*

      My husband bought a two year old Audi. They loose their value very quickly so he paid a LOT less than new, but the new price was $92,000. They can be super fancy!

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      Depends on the model of Audi. A little A4 isn’t going to be much more than a loaded Camry.
      The models Tony Stark drives in the Marvel movies are going to set you back a lot more.
      Plus, Audi’s tend to get leased with a very high frequency. A dealership in my area has TONS of them – like flooding the market level tons – so you can get a pretty good deal on some of the more popular models (usually an A6 in black or white).

      1. Antilles*

        Very interesting and I appreciate the insight.
        I guess I’ve always automatically thought of the lower-tier Audis when I hear the name, which is why I sort of mentally considered the brand as one step above a Civic/Camry/Altima but only a single step and not in the “jeez quite a status symbol!” tier.

    6. McWhadden*

      Audis really depreciate in value too (like all cars) so if you get a pre-owned/used version it is not that insane.

      And, yes, lots of people have cross-overs or SUVs from Honda or Jeep that would cost more than a lower level Audi sedan and people don’t bat an eye at those.

      Don’t judge other people. But even if you the judgment is irrational here.

    7. Pretzelgirl*

      I actually inherited a BMW from my grandparents. I could never afford a BMW in real life. I actually ended up trading it in, bc at the time had 2 small kids. I did not want to put car seats and toddlers in a BMW. It just seemed wrong, lol.

      1. Nom de Plume*

        My uncle gave his old Mercedes 2-door convertible to my mom, who offered it in turn to both me and my sister. My sister and I, each living in snowy climates, turned her down. lol I couldn’t imagine putting a car seat in the tiny back seat, and the maintenance costs were more than I wanted to spend.

    8. madge*

      That jumped at me, too. It’s not a head-turning car and there are just so many variations on how/why someone would have a luxury car. Inheritance, debt, separate income source, etc. I bought a Mercedes that cost roughly half of what my husband’s truck cost. It was less than the Honda I had been eyeing because of a discount we had at that particular dealership. I hope to drive it like my last Honda to 150k+ miles.

    9. Clisby*

      That was sort of my idea. I haven’t paid attention nowadays, but 30 years ago I knew several people who drove Audis. They happened to have bought them used, but the cars weren’t impressive-looking.

    10. TamiToo*

      It depends on the model. An A8L can set you back over 100K, but man is it a nice ride. It doesn’t look overly ostentatious from the outside. But people that know Audi’s know…

    11. Allison*

      To me, Audi seems a little above Honda and Toyota, but maybe not as luxurious as a Lexus or Mercedes.

      But either way, you never know how someone got their car. Maybe it was won in a sweepstakes, or a hand-me-down from a relative, or bought used and just looks really good. Maybe their spouse makes a lot of money and they actually own the car, but don’t need a car to commute. Who knows? You don’t, so don’t judge.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        That’s actually not true.

        At least not anymore. It used to be an issue because they weren’t hugely popular, with popularity comes more mechanics which drive their costs down for repair.

        Everyone I know drives German cars at this rate and their repairs are no more than my Toyota.

        1. soon to be former fed really*

          I have a friend with a small BMW SUV, and the repair and maintenance costs,compared to that of my Camry, blow me away. Her expenses are three to four times more than mine, fr routine stuff like an oil change. Don’t know what kind of Toyota you have.

    12. Mia 52*

      That’s kinda what I thought, but then I realized it could be skewed based on the neighborhood I work in where there is a ferrari and maserati (and more other super luxe brands) dealership and the local people tend do drive those cars

    13. Hallowflame*

      An Audi is typically considered somewhere between the high end of mid-range tier and the bottom of the luxury tier of cars.

    14. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I guess it depends on the place and the car model. Here where I live they are expensive because those brands are 1) imported in small quantities (with a small stock of replacement parts) and therefore b) targeted towards rich people.

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        For example, a few years back we finally bought our first (used) car with air conditioning. And one of my coworkers drives a Renault Twingo, which is as old as him.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, don’t get the Audi snarkiness.
      An Audi is certainly a higher end automobile, but unless you’re driving the RS model, they’re also pretty common. They are especially popular in areas with a lot of inclement weather.
      And a slightly used Audi is pretty affordable.

  11. nnn*

    I agree with Alison that you should wear the watch unapologetically and without mitigation, and “it was my grandfather’s” is a great answer.

    However, if you’re still reluctant, a useful exercise might be to think about how you’d wear it and respond to inquiries if you’d never heard of the brand, or if the price were unremarkable, and then proceed in that manner if anyone remarks upon it.

    Even if someone outright said “That’s a very expensive watch!”, you’d probably respond with something like “Oh, is it? It belonged to my grandfather – he got it for his retirement. I remember him wearing it all the time when I was younger, and it’s nice to keep a part of him with me.”

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      You don’t need a long explanation if someone remarks about it’s value. Anyone who is rude enough to comment on how expensive it costs would deserve nothing more than a “And?” response, or something similar to make them realize they’re out of line.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Huh, I’d respond with “I wouldn’t know. It was my late grandfather’s and I didn’t demand a valuation from the will executor.”

  12. singularity*

    Wow, senior employees don’t have a problem with making their co-workers private purchases somehow their business. I’d proudly wear that watch and say absolutely nothing about it. If anyone notices that it’s an expensive/luxury brand and makes a judgmental comment about it, you don’t have to tell them it’s your grandfather’s if you don’t want too. Just change the subject. Make them feel weird for asking intrusive questions.

    Coworker: “Hey, OP, isn’t that a ‘Tolex’ watch? Aren’t those really expensive? I didn’t know you could afford something like that!”
    OP: “What a strange comment. Anyway, how about those TPS reports?”

    1. Anna Maus*

      Rolex tend to be very large, generally speaking, and are built to draw the eye. Much more noticeable than a Breitling, for example.

      I might have a couple friends who are watch nerds and intermittent collectors.

      1. Coverage Associate*

        Yeah, now that I am making lawyer money, I insist on Swiss made watches, as a sign to myself that I have “made it.” Right now I am wearing a pink Swatch meant for a child, and I ordered a Wegner over the weekend. Probably should have held out for a Tissot.

        But I also looked at $10 non Swiss watches just to have something clean to get me by until I am sure about the next nice watch.

        My point is that the watch is just a symbol to me and a tool, because sometimes looking at your phone feels rude when looking at a watch doesn’t, or your hands are full.

  13. Nom de Plume*

    Yes, honor your grandfather and wear the watch. I realize that this won’t exactly make me sound awesome, but your coworkers are judging someone for driving an Audi? Maybe it’s because I have no idea how much Audis cost, but I don’t think of an Audi as a luxury car. Maybe I’m the snob? Anyway, your coworkers sound unusually judgemental, so I wouldn’t put a lot of effort into not being judged by unreasonable people.

    1. Mpls*

      I think of Audi as the same level as Lexus (Toyota), Acura (Honda), and Infiniti (Nissan?). Its the next tier up for that manufacturer. I think you can spend a lot on a Audi (A8; $85,000), but you don’t have to. It also has the European cache?

      1. Jdc*

        Audi is in line with bmw and Mercedes not Acura. Worked in automotive for 20 years. Audi’s are actually held in higher regard by people in my industry.

        1. Goliath Corp.*

          You can tell they’re in line with BMWs and Mercedes because they’re all nice looking cars that have the exact same flaw in their turn signals — apparently they never work!

          (God, I hate Audi drivers…)

        2. Mpls*

          Shrug. In my book, Audi’s have reputational overlap with the next-tier Asian automakers. They’re the next step up from a Volkswagon, just like an Acura is a next step up from Honda. Both have a wide range of offerings in terms of price and quality and are not meant to target entry-level owners.

          And I’m not in the automotive industry, so I’m not judging on technical specs or industry reputation. Might be a great car – but it’s still going to compete for buyers with the Asian luxury lines (in the US).

        3. Coffee Cake*

          I would never consider Audi in line with BMW and Mercedes, and I doubt many other people do either. Maybe outside the US they do, they are never on the rooster at the car clubs.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Audi is in the luxury segment of the auto sales market. I wouldn’t put the in the same class as a Ferrari or Lamborghini though which is possibly what you were thinking as luxury. Audi has also done a good job of making a solid mid-market car that has the higher quality components at a more reasonable rate but doesn’t have tons of bells and whistles to drive up the price – definitely not basic but not tricked out.

    3. Nom de Plume*

      Yeah, I’m really not up on cars. :) The only thing I know about Audis is the guys on Top Gear make fun of them in that the guys who drive them are “cocks”. Still, wear the watch.

  14. Mediamaven*

    The optics of having nice things vary widely depending on your industry and your position. If you are in a sales or business development role it’s pretty important that you DO have a few nice status symbols – it sends a message that you are successful and people should want to work with you because they will be successful too. You can hustle and make the big deals happen. It’s why real estate agents always have luxury cars. You do you – and a watch definitely shouldn’t attract that much attention!

    1. Anonnnnn*

      I hope people learn to stop putting stock into the “message” of those status symbols, regardless of role. A CFO can drive a Kia and still be good at their job, because maybe the bulk of their paycheck is spent taking care of cancer treatments or housing homeless family members. It could also indicate the opposite — maybe the CFO has so much spending money because they siphoned funds or stole from the company.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Yes! And if I were looking for a house, I would much rather have a low-key real estate agent. Flashy everything would make me feel like they were going to pressure me to get more than I need so they can buy their next fancy car. Not that someone in jeans and a sweater couldn’t be upselling me so they can fund their collection of medieval astrolabes or whatever, but I’d rather have an agent who was less intimidating. It’s like doctors — yes, I would much rather have a doctor with blue hair and tattoos; that would make me feel like I didn’t have to lie to them about my own lifestyle.

  15. Stayc*

    It’s interesting thinking about the different dynamics in different areas. No one here would even notice a $2500 watch. My husband’s everyday watch was more than $2500 – he just really likes watches. And…it just looks like a watch.

    1. Allypopx*

      I know there are some gaudy expensive watches, but I think for the most part really classy high end watches are pretty understated. They’re just good quality.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes!!! I was at the jewelry counter years ago looking at watches and the salesperson mentioned they were holding a special order watch that costs $7,000.00 (This was in 1981) I asked her if I could see it because I had never seen a watch that expensive. It looked…just like a watch. I mean it didn’t have diamonds or anything fancy on it. I’ll stick with my Timex, thank you.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yes – there is just so much variance by area and by company that I tend to be more in the camp of doing what makes you happy because you’ll never please everyone.

      I have entirely unremarkable and even small wedding jewelry for our area (as in, people have tut-tutted over the diamond in my engagement ring being “so tiny”, and told I should have gotten a fake one for a larger stone, if my husband “couldn’t afford” more than that – yes, some people are really tacky). But, when I go to visit my in-laws, I’ve gotten comments about how showy and ostentatious my rings are (not from my in-laws). I handle both by gushing about how much it means to me that my family let me have my grandmother’s ring and that I can only hope it has the good fortune of my grandparents’ 50+ years together.

      So, yeah, I’m in camp wear-the-watch-and-enjoy-it.

    3. Plant*

      Yeah, everything is relative with watches. I was expecting another zero in that number. Only watch people can tell the difference between ‘nice watch’ and ‘absurdly expensive nice watch’.

    4. Joielle*

      Yeah, I’m not a watch person, so I’d probably just think “nice watch” and never think of it again. Unless it’s plastic or diamond-studded, it’s just a watch to me.

    5. DataQueen*

      Yeah, my first thought was “no one will think anything about you based on a $2500 watch”, but the comments really illustrate that people are really different when it comes to what they want to spend a lot of money on. My watch was a graduation present from my parents, as their parents had given them, and i see it as a staple i need for everyday work. The cost is the cost. Once you get into the $20K+ range, I’m not too interested. I personally don’t need any of that, but I get why collectors are into it. My brother has a Panerai that could probably pay off my mortgage, but he’d probably shake his head at my purse collection. And our youngest brother would roll his eyes at both of us, but he’s one of those people who shelled out thousands for a villa at the infamous Fyre Festival. It’s all relative!

  16. Butterfly Counter*

    I agree with Allison in how you respond to comments on the watch, if any, is that it was your grandfathers. If your response was to name drop the brand and model, you would seem ostentatious.

  17. Jdc*

    I truly don’t comprehend why anyone cares how much items someone has cost? This is a new one for me. I won’t be getting a cheaper car or watch or getting a cheaper handbag to appease anyone. I work for what i have and am entitled to spend my money as I please. If someone is upset about that, it’s their problem.

    1. Champagne Cocktail*

      LW, I hope after reading these comments you wear the watch with pride.

      Reading the comments has helped me a bit here. I have an aunt who will happily ask how much things cost, especially my jewelry. I never give her numbers instead I’ve been deflecting saying things like:

      1) $Store had a great sale
      2) It was a gift
      3) It took me a while to save up for it

      And really, I shouldn’t feel like I need to perform Responsible With Money for her. It’s not like I have ever asked her for any. Reading some of the comments here, I plan to change my replies to, “What an intrusive question!” Really, we shouldn’t have to make excuses for nice things.

        1. Renata Ricotta*

          Or complaining about your lack of money to that person :) The only time I get a little impatient when someone makes frivolous-to-me purchases is when they also want to whine to me about living paycheck to paycheck. Even then I don’t actually say anything, I just roll my eyes internally.

          1. Champagne Cocktail*

            Fair point.

            I suspect it wouldn’t do any good to roll your eyes externally because people who do that don’t seem to make the connection between their actions and the consequences of their actions. Most people grow out of that, fortunately.

  18. lyonite*

    I used to love shopping the designer collaborations at Target, and I got a great deal of amusement out of the time one of the senior managers was shocked that I was wearing a Phillip Lim jacket.

    1. Joielle*

      I buy designer stuff from The Real Real or The Outnet and peoples’ reactions to designer names can be funny! (Nobody needs to know that this Prada dress was 90% off.)

    2. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

      A woman at work once complimented on my dress, asking if it was Kate Spade (since she had a KS that was similar). I replied “Nope, Isaac Mizrahi for Target. And I even got it on the clearance!” She was appalled.

  19. Thigh High Fendis*

    I agree with Alison–wear the watch! Unless it’s very heavily branded, I doubt anyone will notice, and even if they did, it’s a meaningful heirloom gift. It’s not like it’s a hot pink Birkin or new Yeezys every drop or the ubiquitous Gucci double G belt. I’d be very interested to see what industry you work in where an Audi is seen as a “status symbol” rather than a nice car someone treated themselves to.

    Obviously, audience is key here. I don’t work in fashion, but I do work in an industry where being trend-forward is vital to our company, and in our head office you see folks frequently wearing a designer item, like bags and clothes (think LV, Saint Laurent, Goyard, Celine). It is, however, mostly the managers or employees who are well-established in the company, and relegated to certain teams that are more involved with being “trend-forward.”

    Again, audience matters. When I worked in a satellite office for the same company that was muuuuch more relaxed (think leggings as pants), it was very obvious when our leadership teams would visit because suddenly there would be Mercedes and Tesla cars in the parking lot (not bad at all, just something we noticed). Some of our senior leaders are very much “characters” who dress with lots of self-expression, and as such, there’s a running joke about one leader addressing our whole warehouse staff while wearing a crocodile leather mini skirt and thigh-high Fendi sock boots (we will never forget). It was ludicrously tone-deaf, but they did look amazing! I’m always interested in hearing what industries/positions folks feel comfortable bringing luxury items in. I just got comfortable enough to bring in my bargain-hunted Celine luggage bag.

    1. PhyllisB*

      I have to say I’m learning so much about designer brands in this thread!! I’ve googled some of them and nearly had heart failure at some of the prices.

  20. Cute Li'l UFO*

    I’ve inherited a Cartier watch that is quite subtle. Most haven’t noticed it. I used to work in luxury retail and beauty so having nice things isn’t out of the norm. I have gotten the insinuations of “you’re getting paid too much if you have that” from other coworkers/bosses/industries. I’m just done with people who think that way. The CEO at one contract screamed at me that I was overpaid, didn’t know what he was paying me for, and what was I doing carrying Louis Vuitton. Never mind that I saved my money and bought it as my treat for leaving corporate retail and moving into graphic design. I even customized my initials and stripes on the outside. You bet I loved that bag. When I heard “Must be nice to have all that money to spend on a bag,” I answered “yes, it is.” Granted, I hated the person who said that to me.

    Enjoy it. Quite a bit of my designer items are secondhand or hand-me-downs as well.

    1. Jdc*

      Most of the people I know with “affordable” handbags own dozens if not more at $40 or more a pop. Could’ve bought a couple nice bags for that. Yet they always complain they are broke. Buy one item that lasts instead of 20 that don’t.

      1. Allypopx*

        This is true. It’s worth remember that this is one of the ways that being poor charges interest, not having the money up front to pay for more durable items. It doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re talking about, but it’s adjacent enough that I just feel the need to point it out.

        1. Jdc*

          It is kind of in line with what I am saying. I don’t like to waste on things that I don’t even like that much that won’t last anyway. If I want a new bag I save, or sell an older one I know I won’t carry again to put towards it. I buy about one a year on average.

      2. Master Bean Counter*

        Seriously this!
        I used to spend $20-$50 every year for a new bag. I’d wear them out. Then I got a nicer bag from a clearance rack. Original price some where around $200. That bag lasted for years! The outside pleather finally started coming off when I finally looked for a replacement. The straps never broke, the hardware never gave out.
        My new bag was in the same price range. Got real leather this time. I’ll probably retire before I buy another bag.

        1. NLMC*

          Same. But black Friday 2018 I found a Kate Spade for on about $50. I carry it every day and it still looks brand new. All my other bags would wear out after 8 months or so. As much as I hate buying name brand because of the price I’m learning it’s sometimes better to save and buy one nice item rather than several cheap ones – especially jeans.
          This is only to a point though. I don’t understand spending thousands on a bag and then only carrying it occasionally because it’s too expensive to carry every day. And I’ll still only buy name brand jeans on clearance because I still can’t bring myself to pay that much for jeans.

        2. TechWorker*

          This does make the point though that for $200 you got a bag that lasted years – I’m not convinced this is a good argument for spending $9000 or w/e on a bag :p

          Like – obviously people can spend on what they want – but lots of it is not justified by quality. (I have a ~$50 bag that’s going strong on year 4 :p)

    2. Anonnnnn*

      It baffles me that people seem to forget about birthday and/or Christmas presents, or the existence of Goodwill. I find SO MANY designer brands at Goodwill or clearance rack stores. I recently had a job interview for a very bougie company, and bought a nice suit to make me feel more confident– less than $100 for the jacket, slacks, and blouse at Nordstrom off the Rack.

      1. thewonderginger*

        I wear a lot of mid-range labels i.e Kate Spade, Loft, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors, J Crew, etc and I have never paid full price! Outlets, Consignment, resale, Craigslist, FB Marketplace, etc!

  21. Sue*

    My (lovely, 93 year old) Dad has a Rolex he wears but traveling with him a couple of years ago, his battery died and we bought a super cheap watch on the street. I told him it would probably die before we got home.
    He was proud of his $2 bargain and kept mentioning how it was still going months, maybe years later. He wore it proudly. It’s all in the story, after all.

  22. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Alison is right on. One nice watch is just one nice watch.

    Now, if you had a dozen of them, and wore a different one every week, and talked about them incessantly, that would be a whole different thing.

  23. A Simple Narwhal*

    I’m guessing that a high quality watch from 20 years ago was expensive because it was meant to last and the price went towards the inner workings as opposed to encrusting it with diamonds. I think you’ll be 100% fine with wearing it, and “thanks it was my grandfather’s” is a perfect response to any comment on it, whether it be a snotty one or a genuine compliment.

    I recently go into the online world of thrifting (poshmark is dangerously easy to use), and it’s so easy to get name-brand stuff for way less than their normal retail price. Between that and outlet stores, you can never really know how much someone paid for something. Extra reason to never judge someone for their belongings.

    1. Liz*

      I am a Poshmark queen. I both buy and sell on there. And thrift to sell. I love it. I’ve gotten some fabulous deals and made some decent $$ selling higher end stuff I found while thrifting to resell.

      I also belong to a bunch of FB groups devoted to PM. And even in there I’ll see kind of snide comments such as “how did this person “get” so many high end bags, shoes etc. they have in their closet?” Could be gifts, they like to shop, who knows? But there’s even judging in groups like that.

      1. Jdc*

        Can you just explain Poshmark to me. I have used Tradesy for years and just did Poshmark. I get attempted scams non stop and people following me. That’s it? I mean, I get what Poshmark is but my experience so far is dozens of people trying to scam me. Do people actually buy stuff from this site?!

        1. Goldfinch*

          I treat it like eBay and ignore the social media aspects. As long as you know your brands/sizes and examine photos carefully, you have as good a shot of getting real stuff there as you do on other auction/resale sites.

          1. Jdc*

            I was selling a pair of CLBs that were a gift and don’t fit. All I have received is people asking if they can buy off the site.

            1. DataQueen*

              You need to share, share, share! Follow people and share thier stuff, they will share yours. And add lots of keywords to your post so it pops up. Send private offers to the likers. I’ve made over $6,000 casually in the last 3 years, mostly on crappy old navy jeans and stuff like that!

    2. Construction Safety*

      Yeah, I have a coupla higher end Swiss watches, slightly pre-owned via eBay saves A LOT of money.

  24. sam*

    I’ll admit when I first read “frightfully expensive” my head went to the more “Patek Phillipe” end of things, so suddenly $2,500 didn’t seem so ostentatious?

    Quite frankly, everyone (who can afford it, insert all of the right caveats here about inequality, etc.) who gets to a certain point in their life, career, etc. should have a nice watch. My parents gave me one when I turned 21, and while I don’t wear it every day because it’s a bit fragile (the bracelet design has some…issues and it has fallen off more than once), it’s still precious to me. It’s especially nice to have one that has some meaning.

    1. BradC*

      Yep, there are many brands and models of watches that would cost far more than that Audi sedan, and most of them probably wouldn’t even be noticed except by another watch enthusiast.
      LW, wear your inheritance with pride, and have it serviced by a reputable watch repair shop to keep it in good shape.

    2. emmelemm*

      Same… I’ve heard of watches that cost like $20,000 (which is insane to me, but no one asked me and I don’t have to buy one).

      $2,500ish that you inherited from a family member is just a nice accessory.

      1. sam*

        hee. just for scale, $20K might get you the very cheapest Patek Philippe watch. They usually average several hundred thousand and go up to several…million.

        I only know this brand exists because there was an exhibition right near my office last year. I wear an apple watch most of the time.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Huh. My great-uncle left a Patek Philippe to my dad *in a shoebox* amongst some other oddments. My parents sent it off to get fixed for, like, an entire year, and one of them wore it for a while, but I think they got too nervous about wearing even a “cheap” PP around town. Pretty sure it’s back in the shoebox.

    3. Arielle*

      Same! I personally would not spend $2500 on a watch but it doesn’t sound that crazy to me on the scale of watch prices. I bet the majority of women in my office have engagement rings that cost more than that.

    4. Shan*

      I also thought Patek Philippe, which was then immediately followed by remembering the episode of Cabin Pressure where Martin was convinced he’d bought a real one. Gold.

      OP, wear your watch! It’s not like you’re rolling in to work in head-to-toe Fendi. Heck, my dad uses a flip phone and considers jeans from Costco unnecessarily expensive, but he still wears a nice watch.

      1. sam*

        for the same reason you should have nice dress shoes and not wear sneakers absolutely everywhere.

        (“nice” is relative, depending on the occassion and your situation in life, and again, please insert all the caveats about income and inequality, etc.)

    5. ThatMarketingChick*

      Same here. Or an AP, or a Vacheron. My husband bought me a nice watch several years ago. I wasn’t a watch person before that, but I appreciate the quality and timelessness of it now. For our 5th anniversary, I surprised him with a Cartier Santos. Very few people comment on it, but he’s in love with it which is all that matters. I’ve been wearing my Breitling for several years and have had maybe one or two people recognize what it is.

    6. It's a No From Me*

      Yup. Patek Phillipe watches cost up to $2.5 million, or 1,000 times more than the “frightfully expensive” watch mentioned in this letter. I just don’t get what the fuss would be about his watch.

  25. A Tired Queer*

    One of my coworkers absolutely rocks at thrift shopping. She finds the nicest like-new name brand stuff for super cheap and then puts it together into stellar outfits, and nobody thinks about it twice. Another coworker was self-conscious about the gaudy ring she got from her grandmother who had recently passed, but bringing it up just led to people asking her about her grandmother and sharing stories of their own heirlooms.

    1. Aurora Borealis*

      We have one of those lucky shoppers at my work place as well. Recently she found a bracelet at a second hand store for well under $100. She knew what it was, and it is currently being set up for auction by Sotheby’s. Her take will be approximately 5K. I love to hear her stories and where she finds things. But she is the last one to boast about it.

  26. Pampaloon*

    People are so ridiculous. When I moved to a new town I took a job substantially less upscale than my last one for various reasons, including that I wanted to work and I wanted to meet people. I also happened to drive a very nice car that I bought with a few miles on it and took care of well. Hallway whispering ensued. I relayed back through the network that I bought that car with money I earned working very hard at a very hard job. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to not take a job because I had a nice car or shouldn’t be driving the car for some reason. You would think there would be something admirable about earning your own nice things and not being snobby about ongoing job choices.

  27. Little Belle/Big City*

    Because I had an aunt whose high school class ring burned up in a house fire (she wasn’t wearing it or it would have been saved), my take on jewelry is to get it out of the box, wear it and enjoy it. I wear at least one piece every day of the “good” jewelry that my mom left me when she died, today it’s a sapphire-and-diamond cluster ring. The first time I wore it to the office was three days after her funeral, and my director noticed it. She simply asked, “was that your mother’s ring?” and I said yes. Other than that, no one has ever commented on the other jewelry I wear or the Raybans and silver bracelets I saved up for. These days, you can get so much name-brand clothing and accessories on Poshmark or even eBay for less than what they cost new, that I don’t blink when I see my fellow counselor/educational folks wearing something like that. Many years ago I had a student who was working fulltime and driving an older model BMW–it was a car that someone had to get rid of fast and they offered it to her to buy for cheaper than she could get most other cars, so she took the deal.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Yeah, I wear one of my grandmother’s rings. It’s nothing so fancy as yours, but it was hers and my grandfather personally resized it for her. I risk losing it wearing it out, but it’s just not meant to be in a box.

  28. Mama Bear*

    Wear the watch.

    The only time I think it’s reasonable to ask someone about an expensive item is if they work for a sensitive project – some government jobs require more financial disclosure than others, but that doesn’t sound like the case here. Even then “I inherited it” should quickly put any problems to rest.

    1. Auntie Social*

      My friend worked for the government and her dad passed away, leaving her mid-six figures. She bought a small Mercedes with part of it, and I guess there was talk about it. An officer came up to her while she was getting gas and said “gonna hang onto it for ten years, eh?” She said yes, trading in a car every few years wasn’t economical at all, and her full bird dad told her to keep a Mercedes at least ten years. The officer nodded approvingly and said “that’s the way to do it” and the gossiping stopped.

  29. Magenta Sky*

    The real problem here isn’t expensive status symbols, it’s nosy, judgmental coworkers who believe they should tell other people how to spend their own money.

    Which isn’t helpful, but it can’t hurt to place the blame on those actually responsible.

  30. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    So I have two stories
    1) my second job in the US, my second year in the country, the broke as heck me came to work on my birthday wearing a nice pair of Saks Fifth brand heels. The woman that I was sharing an office with, recognized the brand (something I’d never manage to do) and gave me the third degree, trying to get me to tell her where I’d gotten the shoes from. But I really didn’t want to tell her. Finally, because she would not give up, I was “alright, alright, I’ll tell you, god. I got them from” at which point, the older guy who also shared the office with us, and who’d been quiet until then, said “Do not tell her. She does not need to know.” and so I didn’t. Regretted it a year later, when the guy finally told me that this woman (who’d left the company by then) had been spreading rumors around the office about me sleeping with our boss. Without a doubt, that was where she must’ve thought my shoes had come from. In reality, my (even more broke than I) parents were friends with a couple in their apartment building and the wife cleaned houses for a living. One of her clients was a wealthy woman with the same shoe size as mine, who loved giving her slightly worn shoes away. I wore her hand-me-downs for my first few years in the country. The Saks heels were also a hand-me-down. I thought it was embarrassing and didn’t want my coworkers to find out.

    2) This one is a sad tale of caution I guess. A teammate at an OldJob was an immigrant from China, as was his wife. They both had good-paying jobs but hardly any savings. They would go deep into debt and limit their spending for months, so they could afford to spend big once in a while. E.g, the family went to Disney World twice in the six years I worked with him. They built a brand-new house in a new development. He told me that the mortgage payments were killing them and that, a year after buying the house, they still couldn’t afford to buy any furniture, and were sleeping on the floor. But he never told our managers that (neither would I). When he left that job, the FBI showed up to collect his laptop, to the amazement of everyone. This was not the usual process when people left. Come to find out, he’d been under surveillance for years. TPTB had decided that he was living beyond his means, what with the new house and the Disney vacations, and that the only possible explanation was that he was selling the company’s trade secrets to China (being originally from China). I just… can’t process it to this day.

    Moral of these stories: OP, wear the watch, tell people it’s from your grandfather, but maybe don’t take any Disney vacations yet. (since this is apparently how it works) (On second thought, maybe if you were born in the same country that you now live, go ahead and take the vacations.)

    1. Observer*

      The guy in the first story was trying to protect you. And, really, telling her where the shoes came from would not have helped. Because she was a nasty piece of goods looking for something to turn against you.

      I suspect that there was more to the story with #2 – theft of trade secrets IS an issue and people living well beyond their means is a real indicator. On the other hand, I know that the FBI can be stupid about this stuff, but on the other hand they generally don’t have the resources to keep someone under surveillance for years if they really are not seeing anything suspicious.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        #1,when I didn’t give her the answer, in her mind, I bet she just got her “proof” of me allegedly sleeping with the boss. I should’ve told her they were secondhand. I had no idea what was going through her head. #2, that’s the thing, he really wasn’t living well beyond his means. We worked in a fairly well-paying field. My friends who worked in the same field and had been in the country as long as he and his wife, bought houses around that same time that were more expensive than his. The management saw the new house, but didn’t see the outrageous mortgage payments, or having to sleep on the floor or having to save on everything. In the end, it appears that they found nothing – I would’ve heard about it otherwise – it was a very tight-knit workplace and people still are in touch with each other years later.

        1. Observer*

          #1- You just can’t win with people like that. You really can’t. I doubt anything you would have said would have really made a difference. Even if she believed you, which I wouldn’t count on.

          #2- Oh, I believe that they didn’t actually find anything. And what your PTB at work did or didn’t see isn’t really the issue. I imagine that the FBI knew a lot more about the mortgage payments, etc. – which actually could have raised their suspicions. In any case, I’m just wondering what the FBI was seeing that made them think that i was worth continuing surveillance for years.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Right?! This coworker ended up moving back to China. I asked him why and he told me, “your kids will fit in here and pass for the locals. Mine never will.” Both his sons were born in the US, neither of mine were, but I bet he is right :(

  31. LavaLamp*

    Wear your watch. My mom passed away almost two years ago now; and she was a dragon who hoarded all the shiny jewelry things, so I have a legit business safe filled with real, unique, expensive jewelry.

    Wearing her things makes me feel like she’s still with me. So I do it. And because my mom had good taste, I get asked often about different pieces. If I know where it came from, I tell them, but usually my response is ‘Thanks, I don’t actually know where it’s from, I inherited it from my mom.” Once people learn that my highly expensive or antique pieces are only mine because I lost someone in a really shitty way, they leave me alone about it. For some reasons, it goes back to how in some places, you’re only allowed to have things because you’ve experienced a loss. It sucks, but I don’t know how to change that narrative.

  32. Jeffrey Deutsch*

    Ordinarily, in my opinion people should mind their own business regarding other people’s spending and ignore any conspicuous consumption.

    One major exception: If a conspicuous consumer holds a security clearance or public trust clearance in the United States or similar clearance in another country, or some other potentially corruptible position (eg, judge, elected official/aide to same or custodian of highly private records like medical or credit reports). If someone (1) might be going into debt — and hence becoming vulnerable to temptation to commit illegal acts (and then possibly fall victim to blackmail) or otherwise break their trust to generate funds or (2) might have already broken their trust to generate funds (unexplained affluence), that’s a serious concern.

    Then again, if your workplace has that potential, you’ll know when, how and to whom to report this.

    1. Free Meercats*

      This played into my car buying decision 25 years ago. I’m a regulator in a municipal government, so appearances aren’t inconsequential.

      There was a used Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II on a local repo lot that was aggressively priced, and I was really considering it. When I looked at the optics though, I decided to buy a new Chevy that cost about the same. I’m still driving that Chevy; it’s finally time to replace it, and if a similar deal came along, I’d go for it.

  33. Buttons*

    “an Audi sedan which caused some resentment from the senior employees who thought it was an irresponsible waste of money.”
    If a colleague dared to shell out any opinion about my clothing, accessories, or vehicle as being an “irresponsible waste of money” I would happily tell them it was none of their business. That isn’t the sort of thing that is anyone’s business or should even be discussed.
    If someone asks how you can afford such a watch you can say it was inherited, or you could give them a WTF look, and ask them “why do you ask?” It is a rude question and you don’t have to answer it.
    Also, most cars aren’t a “status symbol” anymore, you can lease an Audi for $350 a month, which is pretty average for a car payment or lease.

  34. Half-Caf Latte*

    This reminded me of Jill who worked in the lab who constantly name-dropped *status* items, and folks in the comments pointed out that the items she would brag about weren’t particularly exclusive brands.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I once overheard a coworker telling someone in the breakroom about a trip to NYC she’d just returned from. “And then we went shopping to Canal Street, because, y0u know, that’s where all the designer brands are.” I am so proud of myself that I kept a straight face.

        1. whomever*

          I just burst out laughing when I read that. (For those who don’t know NYC and don’t get this, Canal Street is absolutely notorious for selling grey-market knock-offs of various legality, including yes Guccci and the like)

          1. Grapey*

            From what I’ve heard they are some of the “better” knockoffs. I went there once with a so called brand queen and she said she couldn’t easily tell the difference with a (very) few items. She asked for some brand names and every shopkeeper took us to a back room to show the “good stuff”.

            Meanwhile I was like a kid in a candy store in the bead wholesale stores across the street lol.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Mind you, I would totally wear a “Hucci” item, ironically.

            I once saw photos on social media of a knockoff brand that had a Helly Kitto logo. Tried my best to hunt them down because I wanted them so badly. No luck.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      You see this a lot with people confusing expensive mid-tier name brand items (e.g., DvF, Michael Kors [not his luxury line, but the MICHAEL line sold in Macy’s], Tory Burch, etc.) and items from mall stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic with genuine luxury brands (e.g., Celine, Chloe, Balenciaga, etc.). But that’s usually people who aren’t particularly that into fashion like that to begin with.

      1. ggg*

        Someone gifted me a faux Tory Burch bag. I don’t really care about the logo but the bag is a good size for what I need so I carry it all the time.

        I get more comments about that bag than I ever have with any real brand-name bag, even high end ones. I’ve actually taken to carrying it with the logo on the inside because so many people are all “ooh, Tory Burch, fancy!” and it’s weird.

        I also have a pair of real Tory Burch flats (very comfortable BTW) which have the same logo on them, but nobody’s ever said a word about those.

  35. Elizabeth Proctor*

    I’m not going to think anything of a coworker with a luxury item unless they’ve proven themselves to be a jerk.

  36. SheLooksFamiliar*

    I own/have owned Audis, because I’m a fan of their famous Quattro package. I live in the snowy Midwest and this all-wheel drive is the best I’ve ever driven. As with any make and model, Audi pricey-ness depends on the model you choose.

    The less-expensive models are the A3 and A4 – think BMW’s 300 series. They’re smaller and usually the first-time buyer’s choice – fewer expensive features, but still elegant. New ones can be 30-40k depending on the trim package. A5 and A6 models have more creature comforts and ‘upgrades that come standard’, and can be $45-60k depending on trim. Whenver I traded, I priced Audi’s VW counterparts; once I added the upgrades, the price was pretty close to the Audi model. If I win the lottery, I’ll biy an A7 or A8; it’s not worth liquidating retirement accounts to get one.

    For all Audi models, the S-Line models are sportier, with trims that add some serious money. If you’re a true car buff, a CPO model would be fun to own. Yes, Audi’s certified pre-owned models are more affordable. I’ve bought them and have been very happy with the experience.

    1. LavaLamp*

      This reminds me of when I was in high school. My dad rode a BMW K 12ooGT motorcycle and would pick me up from school on it on nice days. He also wore a full face tinted helmet and proper riding clothes and because home was maybe three blocks away I just wore sunglasses (no helmet law in my state; stupid yes I paid for it with the knots in my hair).

      Every day; while sitting at the stop light I could hear the cars next to me full of my classmates asking;
      “Is that her BOYFRIEND? he must have money, I didn’t know BMW made bikes” and various combinations of that. I found it absolutely hilarious, because my dad and I look very much alike, without all the gear.

    2. Jdc*

      Quattro for life!! Is it snowing? Oh I couldn’t tell. Haha. Just got a new SQ5. On top of being fast as heck it’s just been destroying the snow. I wanted a bigger suv initially but am so glad I got this. Plus it’s sexy as heck.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Agreed! I’ve never driven an all-wheel-drive vehicle that was as stable as an Audi with the Quattro package. ..and I didn’t even think of the SUVs, darn it. I’ve read great things about the SQ5, glad you’re enjoying it. It’s a gorgeous SUV.

  37. Jedi Squirrel*

    Growing up, I had a lot of designer clothes.

    They came from garage sales, charity shops, community outreach clothing giveaways, and Goodwill. People donate stuff, and sometimes it’s really good stuff. We never paid anywhere close to full price for it.

    Just because someone’s wearing something fancy doesn’t mean they paid full price for it. Or paid for it at all. Ain’t nobody’s business how other people spend their money.

    Judgy people are going to judge. Wear the watch, and wear it with pride and good memories.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      This. And even if someone DID pay full price for an item, the bottom line is that it’s none of anyone’s business.

    2. Clisby*

      Years ago, I bought a black silk Nieman Marcus dress for $1 at a yard sale. I mentioned my find to a co-worker and said I was planning to wear it to an upcoming family wedding. He said, “Wow, that’ll be impressive! That’s probably a $200 dress.” I said, “Believe me, my family would not be impressed that I spent $200 on a dress. They’d be impressed I got it for $1 at a yard sale.”

    3. James*

      On the flip side, I knew one millionaire growing up who wore the same suites for 30 years. And I mean the same suites–he hadn’t bought any new outfits in 30 years. While they were of good quality, they weren’t exactly high fashion when he bought them, either; they looked like the suites every man in town wore on Sundays. (This was in the 90s, but rural Ohio.) I also knew a guy who owned 100,000 acres, farmed half a million (through various deals), and never wore anything but boots, coveralls, t-shirts, and baseball caps. Never did find out what he was worth, but he employed two dozen people full-time.

      1. Auntie Social*

        I was a banker’s child, and was taught that the guy in coveralls had more coin than a guy in a suit.

  38. Marny*

    Nothing makes me more irritated than the need to count other people’s money. People get money from all sorts of places: work, family, inheritances, sweepstakes/lottery winnings, investments, etc. Unless it’s your money being spent, don’t worry about it. And if someone comments on the cost of something, I usually respond, “Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to pay for it.”

    1. madge*

      And if someone comments on the cost of something, I usually respond, “Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to pay for it.”

      Hahaha, I love this so much and will be stealing it. Fortunately, my colleagues are way nicer than the OP’s sound, but there are some acquaintances…

  39. learnedthehardway*

    Years ago, I knew someone whose grand-boss decided not to hire a candidate for a job, because the candidate drove an expensive sports car to the interview. The grand-boss thought the candidate “didn’t need the job enough”. Personally, I always thought that this said something more negative about the GB than the candidate. Someone who is that concerned about whether an employee “needs” the job sounds like someone who doesn’t understand people leadership or employee motivation all that well.

    1. Observer*

      Either that or subscribes to the school of thought that says that if people are desperate for the job they do “whatever it takes.” Which is generally only useful if you want to abuse people.

    2. TechWorker*

      This has legit been a topic of discussion when we’ve been hiring, based on I think 2 previous experiences of folk we hired who had serious family money. Neither was remotely motivated/they both quit after not that long, and this was assigned (probably correctly but who knows, it was before my time) to the fact they didn’t actually need the job enough to care. Its not at all that we wouldn’t hire someone in that position, but if two candidates were otherwise equal, we’d probably take the one who wasn’t minted.

        1. TechWorker*

          No – in this case it was a bunch of internships gained through family and the fact their dad owned an island ;) I guess a sports car would have to be pretty ridiculous to prove that level of wealth.

    3. Alexandra Lynch*

      Try driving a decent car that isn’t a rustbucket to get food stamps or other government aid. And wearing, not couture, but clean, decent, not worn-out clothing, washed and styled hair, and makeup to suit.

      Because of course when he lost his job and we ran out of food, my clothes suddenly all became ten years old and I forgot how to take basic care of myself. (roll eyes) Just like my cast iron pans and Kitchenaid stand mixer were still okay even though we were on food assistance.

  40. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I always tend to assume watches are gifts anyways, it’s our weird family dynamics though. Unlike cars which you tend to pick out yourself [even though you can certainly gift them as well, it’s far less a thing in my personal experience.]

    Also you can get luxury brands at TJ Maxx and Marshalls etc now. So if someone does want to “make a thing” of anything, it’s a quick “It was my grandfathers” in your case and if it’s a designer bag, it’s “I found it at Ross, yeah 75% off the tag, yay for last seasons stuff.” *shrugs*

    I laugh that people are salty over an Audi of all things. I’m one the only person with a budget brand whereas everyone who makes less than I do has their BMWs and Mercedes. We’re in the tech world up here, so the streets are drowning in Porshe and Teslas though.

  41. Spek*

    It’s none of anyone’s business (especially management) how you spend your money. If you want to eat ramen all year so you can spend a month skiing the Alps – that’s why most of us work; to make money to do or have the things we enjoy. A busybody mentioned to me at work years ago how often I go to Vegas, so I just breezily answered how great it was to be unmarried and childfree.
    One thing about the watch – they need to be kept up like any expensive asset. Be prepared to spend a decent sum of money getting it serviced every year or two.

  42. Urdnot Bakara*

    If working at a consignment store taught me anything, it’s that you can’t judge anyone’s financial situation by the number of designer items they have. We sold a lot of second-hand Coach, LV, Louboutin, Gucci, Rolex, you name it, for affordable prices. Also, as others have mentioned, you never know if something was a very generous gift. I was once gifted a $1300 purse from a rich relative at the same point in my life when I was working for the consignment store, making a little more than minimum wage, and living in a basement.

    TL;DR people’s stuff tells you nothing about their finances/income.

  43. Hedgehug*

    You inherited your grandfather’s watch. Wear it. Don’t enable other people’s jerkiness by not wearing it.

  44. SusanB*

    Commenting of any sort of on clothes drives me crazy. People all spend their money a million different ways. A co-worker traveled all the time. She went to Disney every year. She went skiing every year. Now I wouldn’t mind going to Disney once but honestly the idea of dragging my kids to an amusement park gives me hives. I can’t handle the crowds and heat.

    I, however, like going out to eat. I’d try new restaurants. Sometimes with friends, other times with my family. I also had a lot of weight fluctuation and was buying new clothes for a while because I had lost a shit ton of weight. She constantly commented on it “Another new dress?” when I’m actually pretty frugal with my clothes – I buy at consignment stores or discount stores. “You buy new clothes too much! That’s why you can’t afford vacations” when I honestly don’t really want to go through the hell of packing up my family’s clothes and going to Great Wolf Lodge for a weekend. Nice if you do but it’s not for me. I finally snapped one day and told her to shut up about my clothes and I won’t judge her for constantly going to Disney World and paying (in my opinion) obscene fees for her child’s club sports. The comments became minimal after that.

    I feel like everyone spends money on something that no one else understands. You have to just do your own thing and ignore the haters. I may think that people who spend $500+ on heels are crazy. They don’t understand why I own an Instant Pot and an air fryer and a crock pot. What can you do? We all make our choices.

    1. Allypopx*

      “You buy new clothes too much! That’s why you can’t afford vacations”

      Did you ever imply you wanted to afford vacations??? Also seriously, people spend their money on different things and it is not difficult to buy nice clothes for relatively low prices. Loft is having up to 70% off sale items right now and I bought a couple super cute tops for like $5 each (hot tip of the week!). That won’t get me to Disney.

      Nor will cutting back on coffee pay my rent, or never going to chipotle again secure me an overflowing retirement account. People need to stop backseat driving other people’s budgets.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s always a fascinating moment when you step back and really examine people like that! They’re so wrapped up in what they deem to be the only acceptable use of money, in this case vacations. Unless someone specifically asks you to assist them with their budget to “afford” these things, leave them alone, jfc!

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        I have a coworker who does this. She doesn’t value fine dining, so when I was excitedly asking a colleague about her experience at the local $300 pp tasting menu only restaurant, we got sooooo many comments about how she would NEVER spend her money like that, to which the diner guest and I were like, “okay, so don’t then?”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I have had to shoot down chatter over the years about my tipping budget. I prefer to tip large. And therefore keep my “outtings” to a minimum due to that increased cost. “If you didn’t tip as much, you could go out twice a month instead of once a month!”

          I could also just cook for myself and save even more. I don’t want to though, so I will go about spending my money while you go about spending your money…

          But I ate an avocado a few days ago, so don’t look at me, I’m too luxurious for so many people!

          1. Allypopx*

            UGH people think I’m being showy or something when I leave a big tip. No. I appreciate the service I was provided (generally) and calculated this into my decision of whether or not I could afford to go out and eat. That’s not optional for me. If I can’t afford to tip I can’t afford to dine out.

            The avocado though….oof that is a little rich for my blood hehe.

          2. Jedi Squirrel*

            All of this!

            I also like to tip large. I get great service on the few times I go out, so why not? I always figure that if you can’t afford to tip well, you can’t afford to eat out.

          3. KoiFeeder*

            I’ll stop tipping so much when it stops being legal to pay servers below minimum wage (and, obviously, when minimum wage becomes a living wage again).

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Well honestly, we don’t do that here. Servers wage doesn’t exist on the west coast.

              It has never factored into my tipping personally, since I’ve always been in the PNW. But I know that other places are awful with their servers wages AND they don’t get paid for prep/downtime in those situations as well. Nope nope nope quadruple nope.

    3. ssssssssssssssssssss*

      “…when I honestly don’t really want to go through the hell of packing up my family’s clothes and going to Great Wolf Lodge for a weekend.”

      I thought I was the only one. OMG, the thought of a “weekend away” is not a happy one when I think of all the stress that would lead up to it. Pick a place, pick a time, what do we bring, how much laundry before, the price, the food (which is complicated with food allergies), how do we get there, rushing to get everyone out the door in time, getting settled in, counting down until we leave, unpacking…

      Nope. And I’m not even a particularly anxious person!

      1. SusanB*

        Yep, you’ve summed it up exactly. She loved it. And that’s awesome. I’m glad they did it. They really enjoyed that family time. I would be miserable and I would bicker. I’d rather just go out for breakfast with my family and then spend time together during the day doing stuff around the house. Someone else might be like “We do team sports all day on Saturday” – Great! As long as you love it, it’s money well spent. I would be miserable so I don’t do it.

        I cook dinners 6 nights out of the week. I bring my lunch to work. I bring my coffee to work. I buy myself clothes. I get theatre tickets a few times a year. I bought new furniture for my house. These are the things I like. Sure I could have skipped the couch and the rug and table set and gone to Chicago but . . . I don’t wanna.

        1. Jayne*

          I like your Mom! I may have to steal this phrase! I have travel anxiety to the point where I am always worried about making plane connections until I am on the last connection. Also having chickens limits my travel to when I can arrange chicken tenders.

    4. TechWorker*

      I have strong memories of a friend when I was ~11 telling me my family must be really rich because I had music lessons. I remember thinking ‘but you go on much more expensive holidays AND have all the new gel pens’… to be fair music lessons probs cost more than the gel pens but I was very indignant (internally Ofc) at the time…

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ah the concept of wealth as a child is adorable really now that we’re older, isn’t it?! LOL

        My friends were in awe of the fact my parents took us on vacations [nothing fancy, road trips to national parks that were within a couple days driving distance]. Yet their parents assumed we were dirt poor country bumpkins because we lived in a trailer park. Fun fact, my parents were frugal AF and that’s why we lived there…we weren’t actually poor. Unlike my friends who would regularly have their lights and phones cut off for late payments :( They were also shocked by the fact our fridge was fully stocked and there was no limit on snacks :(

  45. Never*

    I may be in the minority to a degree but I don’t care and I’ll mostly not even notice myself.

    Unless you are like the coworker I once had that would just not shut up that the watch he wore every days was worth £5k you know, whilst complaining his beat up car was causing problems again and he’s broke. I don’t know what you want dear ex-coworker but you weren’t going to get it repeating that so often when none of us cared.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You are a saint…my response to “My watch is 5K!!!! MY GOD WHY DOESNT MY CAR RUN?!” is “So I heard your watch is worth five thousand dollars…how about you hock it for repair money for your car?”

  46. Gear Head Girl*

    Had a roommate in college who took great pride in never riding in Chevys or Fords, or other working-class cars, only in Lincolns and Cadillacs. Had a lot of fun when my cousin came down to stay one weekend, driving her little red Corvette.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I smiled only because both those brands now are usually thought of when you think of little old ladies who only drive once a week to church in their Lincoln town cars.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        My brother had one of those he bought off a little old lady who could no longer drive, and he had the best car out of all of his high school friends, lol. That woman tricked that car out with a beautiful cream and white leather interior and a bunch of newer tech you wouldn’t expect to see in an old car. My brother then added an obnoxious sound system, and his car dreams were complete, lol.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          My family has always told me to buy a car from these elderly women because they are so good at keeping them in great condition! I haven’t seen one with the great tech additions myself but that’s awesome, lol.

          Growing up one of our friends had a similar one and everyone mocked it because they’re so heavy and you know, like boats. But her parents were like “that’s the point. It’s heavy and boat like, you have more metal around you to protect yourself, like hell I’m getting you a sardine can to drive around!”

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yes! My brother got into a terrible car accident in his Lincoln – some idiot cut across four lanes of traffic and ran him off the road. The entire front end of his car was smashed in and pulled sideways off the vehicle. The EMTs told him that he was lucky as hell his car was so big and so old because otherwise, he would have been dead. I thank the lord every day for that (now totaled) car because my brother, and now my niece, wouldn’t be here.

        2. Alexandra Lynch*

          My ex had a fabulous story about that.
          We live in the midwest, and his grandmother needed a new car. So she asked one of her sons to get her a used car. He got her one from work. He worked in the White Room for GM. They regularly put various….enhancements…. on cars and had people drive them around in normal use so that they could see how they performed over time. Only catch was that when you were through with the car it had to go back to GM.

          After hearing from his father how Grandma’s new car performed when she felt she was late to church (catching air over the railroad tracks….) Ex went to his grandmother and asked to borrow the car. She looked at him sharply. “What you want it for?” she demanded. “You gonna race it?”
          “Eighty-twenty. Eighty’s mine.”
          He argued her down to sixty-forty, and at one point they had five Corvettes lined up by the barn, waiting for some of the boys to drive them to auction. No one ever beat that car. And that was forty years ago….

  47. A. Ham*

    Ugh. I hate people that judge or assume how people spend their own money.
    I had a co-worker at an old job that loved doing that, and it drove us all nuts. she was not the manager of the department, but was slightly higher up than us, and she was also older than us so I think she felt like she was giving us motherly advice, but it did not come off that way. and also, we were all in our late 20s, it’s not like we were 18.
    She would always comment on another coworker who occasionally went to really nice places for dinner (“that place is really expensive!”). Not that it matters- because they could spend their disposable income however they pleased- but this girl’s husband was a chef. of course they prioritized good food!
    The real kicker was she commented on how much money I spent on theater tickets. You guys. We all worked for a theater company…

  48. UKDancer*

    Wear the watch and take pleasure in it. I inherited some very nice pieces of jewellery from my magpie of a grandmother. I wear them to work when they are suitable for the outfit I’ve picked and think of her fondly when I do so,. As long as you don’t go on about it all the time and it’s not an enormously inappropriate tiara, nobody will notice. In my experience most people can’t tell the difference between real and fake, diamonds and zircons in any event.

    I’d agree different people spend money on different things. One of my colleagues just dropped a fortune on a new motorbike. It probably cost more than my little second hand car. I regularly spend money on opera tickets and he doesn’t see the point of the theatre. We all decide what we spend our money on and it’s not for our colleagues to complain about it.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      In my experience most people can’t tell the difference between real and fake, diamonds and zircons in any event.

      Add pearls to that list. Whenever I wore real ones to work, people always thought they were my costume jewelry.

  49. Rebecca*

    Uhhhh. I don’t know what sort of office this is, obviously one where people have poor boundaries, but in many industries no one would bat an eye at an Audi or a $2,500 watch. I understand it can feel weird to wear status-y things at work because of the assumptions others will make, but that is their problem and not yours. Wear the watch! The advice about saying “it’s my grandfather’s” is excellent and should shut down any conversation.

    1. TechWorker*

      Like, I get this, but also the ‘industries’ where this would draw comment are probably the ones where no-one is paid anywhere near enough to afford it.

      In other words the fact ‘in many industries no-one would bat an eyelid’ is probably not because they’re all so polite and great at boundaries, but because they’re generally rich enough that this doesn’t seem like extreme extravagance.

      1. Rebecca*

        Yes that’s precisely what I meant. In a law firm, large consulting firm, finance, what have you, no one would give anyone’s Audi a second glance.

        If this place is weird enough that a common enough, if nicer, car mark is scrutinized, then OP might as well enjoy wearing the family timepiece. Who knows where the brand police leave well enough alone.

  50. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    This topic has come up a few times here in different contexts and I always feel like I’m at odds with most of the commenters!

    As part of a little society of people (like in a workplace) there’s a sort of social norm and consensus around the kind of level of pay and status etc in your particular corner of the world. e.g. We saw this the other day where the temp contract OP was hurting inside every time her wealthy tech-giant colleagues flashed their latest frivolous purchase around to the point where it was affecting her working relationships — and I can understand why!

    I’ve been in the position of being better off than my peers due to life circumstances, luck etc and did consciously drive an older (in line with theirs) car rather than buy the newest one, a cheap second hand phone instead of the latest and greatest, etc. My living situation is far “below my means” (again mostly just due to luck and circumstances) should I “upgrade” my housing to match my level of income, no! (Of course there are “macro”-arguments about this like on the macro level this removes one lower-rent apartment from the market where someone who earns less could be renting it instead… I don’t have a rebuttal to those kind of arguments).

    The fact is we all ought to be taking into account others’ emotional reactions and act accordingly. Not really out of “feeling sorry for them” or “guilt” or anything but more a rational response that yes, displays of wealth disproportionate to most of one’s peers (etc) are the kind of thing that will sow discord and resentment. In some sense (from my perspective) other people’s emotional reactions aren’t really “irrational” but are pieces of information to be taken into account in deciding how I act. Is it a rational response to be jealous and resentful of the colleague who is much better off – no, is it typical and expected – Yes!

    Having said that — this one is more complex as it’s an inheritance (I presume the OP isn’t otherwise particularly well-off compared to the colleagues) and has sentimental value.

    I think if I were in the OPs position I’d probably come down on the side of wearing the watch but making sure word got about that it was inherited from my dear grandfather and so on. I would consciously avoid any other “displays of wealth” (if applicable) for a while.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      What I should have made explicit and didn’t was: as part of becoming (or being) part of that “little society” you implicitly agree to those social norms and consensus’, or else end up encountering a lot of conflict.

      For myself (see username ‘ENTP’ if you know about mbti etc) I encounter a lot of conflict and sometimes actively seek it out… I’m kind of an abrasive person. But I am happy to “choose my battles” … and the things I choose not to fight, I often go along with for the sake of consensus and harmony (Probably I will need to work with these people later so need to stay on good terms – for example)

      You (generic you) can be the ‘outlier’ of your group. Sometimes that’s a prized position to be in (I don’t think flaunting wealth is one of those times, though, personally). But there will be many times where you need the group to accept you.. to accomplish your own goals!

      Btw, I’m constantly frustrated by this need to take into account “people’s emotional responses”. Ultimately I suppose I just have to accept it as what it is — the cost of doing business if you like!

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Of course there are “macro”-arguments about this like on the macro level this removes one lower-rent apartment from the market where someone who earns less could be renting it instead

      This would be unlikely to happen where I live. The minute someone leaves a lower-rent apartment, the building slaps some paint on it, maybe changes the flooring, and then raises the rent to whatever the current market rate happens to be at the time. Low-income individuals end up being pushed into cheaper, more dangerous neighborhoods to survive.

      As to the rest of your comment, while I respect it, I don’t agree with it. Being sensitive to others’ situations just means don’t go around literally flashing things in your coworker’s faces, not completely forgoing buying nice things for yourself altogether. Where does it end? Do you not get married because your chronically single coworkers feel bad about not having a partner of their own? Do you not have kids because some people either can’t physically have them or can’t afford to give birth/adopt and raise them? People need to understand that sometimes in life, someone else is going to have more than you in some area(s) in life – that’s just the way it is. Put your energy towards something productive for yourself and move on. No one is obligated to dim their light or forgo things they genuinely love to make someone else feel better.

  51. Goldfinch*

    That is not that expensive for a watch.

    Source: worked at a jewelry store, where customers would complain about having to drive to Big City because our watch inventory “only” went up to mid-five-figure values.

  52. ssssssssssssssssssss*

    People get so weird about this stuff.

    I once bought a super cheap pair of 100% fake diamond studs. I don’t know what they actually were but since I bought them at Ardene’s (similar to Claires), they were cheap, cheap, cheap. But they must have looked nice enough for gossipy Maria #1 (we had two of ’em) to saunter over and ask with a “You can tell me” tone and a slight forward nod of her chin “Are they real?” She never sauntered over for anything else, not even for work-related questions. And, if they were, why would it matter anyway? It was so odd!

    Sure, I will notice if you have nice things. I ain’t about to say nothing about it (other than “Oooh, that’s so nice!”) as it’s your life, your money.

    I will raise an eyebrow though if you have nice things (I really need a new car so I bought a Jeep) or go to nice places (We’re going to Cuba!), or buy your 3-yr-old a child-sized fishing rod, but then complain how you have no money to pay for new clothes/back taxes you owe. But I’ll still say nothing, as it’s not my business.

    1. UKDancer*

      It’s funny, I have some real diamond studs (inherited) and some fake diamond studs. I’m pretty sure unless you sat down with a jewellers loupe and a testing kit most people would struggle to tell the difference on a cursory examination. The fake ones are a little bit larger but that’s about it, the cut is broadly the same. There’s some pretty good paste jewellery around now.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        As far as more affordable genuine rocks go, synthetic white sapphire can be… well, not cheap, but 10% of the price of a diamond, and also practically indistinguishable (and although diamonds are a harder stone, sapphire won’t burn and is less brittle). But honestly, it doesn’t really matter what’s in your jewelry as long as you like it. And as long as it’s not live centipedes. That’s cruel to the centipedes.

      2. James*

        I got in trouble with a jewelry store while shopping for engagement rings. I found a diamond with a beautiful two-phase inclusion in it. My wife and I studied geology in college, and were actually at the Geological Society of America convention when we were looking, and I thought it was fascinating. The sales clerk got quite offended.

        Amber is the other way around. Clean pieces aren’t as popular as pieces with bugs and leaves in them.

  53. Laura H.*

    Echoing the “Wear it” sentiment.

    I’m kinda equal parts “I don’t care what others think” and “know your audience of sorts” in my approach but that’s just me.

    I work seasonally in a jewelry store and while I have quite a few pieces I could wear anytime, I usually wear them more often when I’m working at said jewelry store because modeling helps sell the product, or helps our customers with ideas to mix and match.

    For my sanity I’ll usually only wear one or two when I work, because I can keep track of them better that way. (Especially if I’m not modeling my owned pieces. Come in with nothing on, I leave with nothing on is a lot easier to keep track of.)

    I’ll usually pull several out for an interview or fancy function. And there are some that I do feel comfortable wearing a little more casually (A petite piece on a comparable chain and a compass pendant on a leather cord)

    But for the most part, I don’t wear my stuff a lot, I think I want to start now.

    I love seeing my coworkers decked out and I love that I can say “Is that a (brand) piece? I like how you’re wearing it today!”

    Sometimes I’ll even get a cute story about how they got it from a loved one who knew they loved for example elephants. The stuff is supposed to be fun and or meaningful and bring one a little joy.

    1. voyager1*

      Serious question:

      What is jewelry season? I would have never thought a jewelry store having seasons needing more staff other then maybe Christmas season.

      1. Laura H.*

        For my job, it’s Christmas/ winter holidays, Mother’s Day, graduation, as well as Valentines Day. It’s not really seasonal in the traditional sense, but usually influx of demand necessitates more employees during a certain period.

  54. TamiToo*

    I got a nice Swiss model watch as a gift. It was traded for a concrete patio that my husband poured for a friend (we owned a concrete company at the time). It looks very fancy and sparkly, but we didn’t actually pay anything for it. I would never spend that kind of money on a watch. It does tend to get comments when I wear it. I can understand how someone who is introverted might get tired of explaining themselves, or get tired of getting the side eye. I say wear it with pride. Haters gonna hate.

  55. Anonariffic*

    Considering there was just a news story about a veteran who brought his Rolex to the Antiques Roadshow and found out it was worth at least half a million dollars, $2500 is peanuts in comparison!

    Seriously- wear it, enjoy it, have a happy moment of knowing that your grandfather loved you whenever you check the time.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      TIL ‘Antiques Roadshow’ is a thing in the states (I assume), we also have it in the UK…

      $2500 is peanuts compared to a half a million dollars antique (?) watch, yes, but it’s still two orders of magnitude (100x) what you could pay for a watch at (… where do you buy watches in the states? Walmart?) and as such is still pretty pricey.

      1. Anonariffic*

        Yep, one of many excellent UK TV shows that we stole. I’m still mad that they took Midsomer Murders off Netflix without giving us the most recent season.

        Just went looking to see what the cheapest digital watch I could find was and TIL that the price range of watches available through Walmart is from $10 to $395,500. Because when I want to buy a solid-gold luxury item worth several years of paychecks, I always go shopping at /s

    2. Newington*

      I guess my granddad didn’t love any of his grandkids enough to leave us multi-thousand-dollar trinkets.

  56. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    People who get all bent out of shape because others have nice things are a pet peeve of mine. Some people just can’t handle it when someone else has nicer things or more money than they have. It’s ridiculous. And unfortunately people who have nice things end up playing it down so that they don’t get rude comments from these people.

    Maybe they have money from outside their job (family money, their spouse, an inheritance). Or maybe they save up for the nice things they have. Maybe the nice things were a gift. Or maybe they are up to their ears in debt. Or whatever. It’s really none of anyone’s business. But these weird and judgy people try to make it their business by getting all upset.

    It’s not rude to have, wear, or use nice things. It’s rude to make comments to or about those who do. If someone is jealous of someone else’s possessions or wealth, they can figure out what they need to do to afford nice things themselves. The people with nice things don’t owe them anything. And they don’t owe it to the weird and judgies to dim their light so as not to upset them with their nice things.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I’m curious how you define what’s “rude” (obviously I know what the word means in the naive sense). Why is it that people who “can’t handle it when others have nicer things or more money” make ‘rude’ comments, that’s ‘rude’ but it’s not ‘rude’ to have nice things etc.

      In fact your suggestion that if people are jealous they just need to figure out what it is they need to do ( = what they are ‘lacking’ currently) to be able to afford nice things… I see that as ‘rude’ or at least naive in itself in a couple of ways — 1) assuming we basically have a meritocracy or a work-harder-ocracy in which you just need to work harder in order to succeed! “These people aren’t working hard enough! If only they did they’d also have All The Things!” & 2) actually, there are some people, many people, that due to luck and circumstances will never be as well off as other people with nice things. But still we all need to work together.

      There is also (not in the OPs case which involves a specific item she inherited, but in your general case of people who are independently wealthy) the argument that on the macro-level they take a job out of the system that someone less fortunate would otherwise be able to have. I say on the “macro” level because they’ll never meet this person or know who they are, as they are just an abstract unemployed/underemployed person, but on the bigger picture….

      We are seeing this in the UK where we abolished mandatory retirement ages a few years ago, and now have a situation where our young people are struggling to find jobs…. I’m shocked I say!

      1. fposte*

        I think you’re lumping different things together. In the UK as well as the U.S., commenting on people’s possessions was considered vulgar for quite a long time (think Hilda Rumpole sniffing at a dinner guest for “noticing people’s things”). There are some big old loopholes in that consideration and it’s not true in every social milieu, but workplaces especially are good places to avoid the uninvited personal remark. Bratty Bob from Accounting isn’t striking a blow for the workers by asking the admin “Jane, how could you afford that posh bag?”

      2. Olive Hornby*

        I think the difference here is assuming that the problem is the wealthy individual who buys an expensive watch while colleagues are struggling to pay rent, takes a job when they could afford not to work or rents a reasonably-priced apartment when they could afford a more expensive one. Leaving aside the racial and cultural dynamics of gentrification for a moment, none of these things are problems in themselves. The problem is that the wealthy person’s colleagues don’t have enough money, can’t get good jobs, can’t find good apartments. In other words, the problem isn’t any one person–it’s the whole system in which they’re embedded. When people with advantages downplay those advantages in order to fit in, it may result in less friction in the office, but it also hides the fact that outside privileges and advantages do matter. I work in a low-paying industry known to employ many people who come from a great deal of money. For a long time, I wondered how these people were managing when I felt I was barely scraping by (and I knew plenty of people with more financial constraints than I had!) I did get jealous of them when I learned they had money, but I was also relieved–it meant that (in certain ways) I really was struggling more than they were, and it was ok to feel behind. It also made me more invested in making my industry more accessible to and inclusive of people from other class backgrounds. Which isn’t to say that you should buy the most expensive whatever you can afford just to make your class position clear, but I would question the decision to hide your resources entirely–who is it actually serving?

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          Oh I completely agree that “the problem isn’t any one person–it’s the whole system in which they’re embedded” and “when people with advantages downplay those advantages in order to fit in, it may result in less friction in the office, but it also hides the fact that outside privileges and advantages do matter”

          But each of us can only influence our own little circle, and ultimately we have to operate within the system we’re presented with. And of course that’s why these things probably won’t change…

          What would you suggest the person should do? not “buy the most expensive whatever you can afford just to make your class position clear” but at the same time not “hide your resources entirely”? What’s the happy medium? The ‘average’ (however you calculate that..) of the person’s peers? Something else?

          I am genuinely asking as I think this is a really interesting question!

          1. AnotherAlison*

            “What would you suggest the person should do? not “buy the most expensive whatever you can afford just to make your class position clear” but at the same time not “hide your resources entirely”?”

            I really just do what makes me happy and comfortable. I’m never trying to hide my resources OR make my class position clear. I’d say nearly zero of my behavior is driven by what other people think. I’m probably a minority, and since you seem to like that type of thing, I am an INTJ and an engineer–groups that don’t care as much about what others think. I do have some nice things that I like to have, but I never say, “Oh gee, better not post about the 1000s of dollars I spent on my cycling hobby so I don’t offend the in-laws.” I also never say, “I better get a nicer purse so people realize I’m in charge of Important Stuff at work.” IDK. It’s not something I’ve wrestled with, and I’m sort of curious what’s driven you to that. I saw your other post that said you were better off than average. I am, too, but I was raised blue collar middle class, and I don’t feel like I owe it to people to hide my success or pretend that I’m not what I came from.

            1. James*

              I don’t think you’re in the minority at all. I do the same–I buy what I’m comfortable buying. In my case I tend to be on the lower end of the spectrum; instead of an expensive brand-name travel mug I use the one I picked up at Loves. I have an older iPad, and no interest in upgrading. I’ve got a flip phone and not a smart phone. Stuff like that.

              This has nothing to do with me trying to hide my resources; I’ve merely opted to invest more of my resources in different areas, such as my kids’ education, family vacations, and the like. Plus, I’ve never seen a reason to go from a perfectly good tool to a more expensive tool that does the same job just as well. If someone takes offense to this (and folks have, especially with the electronics), I politely but firmly point out that my spending habits are not their concern. There’s still some good-natured ribbing, but I’ve found that firmly standing on the principle “My money, my choice” lets people know that I’m not interested in their opinions on the matter. It’s actually earned me some respect, because it shows that I’m willing to make unpopular decisions based on principles.

        2. TechWorker*

          So I don’t think you should have to particularly hide your wealth, but I do think it it’s very revealing that there’s a lot of comments from people here basically going ‘oh but a $2500 watch isn’t that expensive’ and ‘Audi’s aren’t even luxury!!’ – like clearly that’s subjective depending on your own means. It sort of implies there’s a level where people *would* judge (eg if a coworker had a $50k watch). Which isn’t any different to judging a $2500 watch – you’re just standing in a different place.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, and I think we all tend to compare up rather than down. As long as there are people spending more than we are, we don’t feel like we’re buying luxuriously. (Going the other way just sends you into Four Yorkshiremen territory, though–“You had a watch? I had to carve a sundial onto my wrist.”)

            1. TechWorker*

              Lol, I agree. I guess just some of the comments go down the route of criticising the folk who are astonished by wealth, without acknowledgment that wealth is less astonishing when you have it/it feels in reach *shrugs*.

    2. TechWorker*

      Mina – I would never comment on it and *obviously* people choose how to spend their own money. But like, capitalism and massive global inequality is a thing. Even if I could afford to (I can’t) I would never buy a $50k watch, or spend that sum on something that wasn’t a house… if I get rich enough to spend that money on something like a watch I would feel strongly that I had more money than I needed.

      (And yeah you get the philanthropists who both earn and donate vast vast sums, but that’s not the norm amongst the super wealthy).

  57. Junior Assistant Peon*

    How the heck would an average person even know it’s an expensive watch? For all anyone knows, it’s fake gold with cubic zirconia crystals. Ditto with designer stuff; any flea market is loaded with phony Gucci handbags.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      any flea market is loaded with phony Gucci handbags

      Well, there’s five dollars down the drain! ;)

  58. Aunt Piddy*

    Heirlooms are exempt from any negative judgment about “status symbols” and $2,500 isn’t that expensive for a watch. (For example, directly after giving me a $500 bonus my boss showed off the $36,000 watch he’d just bought himself. That was in bad taste.)

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s not that expensive compared to the mean, but it’s still pretty darn pricey compared to the median.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        And to people who are living paycheck to paycheck (for example) a $2500 watch and a half a million dollar watch are basically indistinguishable (they don’t know what to look out for, or what makes it valuable, or whatever).

        A friend of mine made this point to me a few years ago, quite rightly — we were in one of those “entertainment” (with Playstation games, dvds and stuff) stores and he pointed out a games console, I think it was an XBOX, in a huge box with this massive display about it and everything. He said that to the tech nerd it has so-and-so hardware capabilities, this graphics card, can play the latest iteration of ‘whatever game it was’ without any lag and so on and so on…. and to the homeless person they’d just be thinking “this box is a good size and seems well insulated, how can I get hold of one?”

        It’s all a matter of perspective ultimately.

        I find people “normalize” things to their own perspective a bit too quickly, in general.

        1. Newington*

          I’ll bite. What is the difference between a half-million dollar watch and a $2,500 watch that makes the former 200 times better? What do you look for, other than the price tag? At least with the games console, there’ll be some games you can play on it that you couldn’t play on a console that cost half as much.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            I’ve no idea what the difference is between the watches (materials, quality, how rare it is, maybe?)! – it’s probably more obvious to someone in the know about these kind of things… I think what I was getting at was that a “large number” relative to one’s own bank balance if living in poverty – sort of loses any meaning.

          2. Ori*

            I mean, at some level the mechanics of it are going to do largely the same thing, but the half million dollar watch will probably have a master craftsman hand making every component of the watch. Is that necessary for a watch to be a great watch in terms of function? Not really, and if you’re buying a half million dollar watch you’re probably doing it largely for the prestige of owning something intricate, prestigious, and exclusive. Like, a Patek Philippe watch is basically an art piece as much as it is an accessory, and I think people acquire them for much the same reasons as they do expensive art.

    2. ShortT*

      What difference would it make if an item were an heirloom or not? It’s not anyone’s business whether or not an item is an inheritance, a gift, or a personal purchase.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        It’s also true that an heirloom can be seen as bragging that you come from Old Money so meh, personally I don’t see the difference.

  59. Tom Collins*

    There is one caveat to the advice given here. You would get talked to if you worse too nice of a watch in Investment Banking for your role. There is actually an unspoken hierarchy of how nice of stuff you’re allowed to have based on your seniority. If a junior employee wore too nice of a watch it would definitely be an issue.

    That said, a $2,500 watch actually isn’t high end enough for this to come into play.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      What, this seems bonkers to me! I understand the comments about working in like social work and wanting to look relatable. But saying that people in finance aren’t allowed to have nice things until they are high up the chain??? That feels like one of the oddest things I have ever read on this site.

  60. Vanilla Latte with an Xtra Shot*

    Last year, my husband encouraged me to splurge on a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes. A little back story: I’ve wanted a pair of these shoes for over 15 years. It was something that I said I was going to buy for myself when I reached a certain salary. There were years in which I barely made enough to live on, let alone save for retirement, a rainy day, etc.

    I’m actually a really frugal person, so it was difficult for me to buy a pair of shoes that expensive. My husband pointed out how hard I’ve worked over the past decade, how we have paid off all of our debt, etc. I look at these shoes as a celebration. It’s so much more than a pair of shoes to me. I wear these shoes to work often and proudly.

    OP, be proud to wear your watch. :)

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Last year I splurged on a pair of Vivienne Westwood boots that cost about $800. I’ve never bought anything that expensive outside of a car, house or a vacation.

      I had a really nice bonus last year, and this is something I wanted for at least 10 years. So I got them. Note: I did attempt to buy them used first, but I could never get my size and color. Plus, I was worried about getting fakes on the pre-owned sites.

      I feel happy (and a little seditionary) every time I wear them! ;-) You enjoy those Manolo’s honey!

    2. ShortT*

      I trolled eBay and Poshmark for the suede Manolo Blahnik BB105. I now have it in black, navy, nude, and wine. I also have the Valentino Rockstud caged flats in black smooth leather and nude (poudre?) smooth leather. For less than the price of two pairs at full price, over the course of a year, I scored six gorgeous pairs of shoes. I splurged a bit more and had protective half-soles and tips applied by a local cobbler.

      I work as a preschool teacher, so, I’m not wealthy. I also have a relatively calm second job two evenings per week. I live alone. I don’t have children.

      I was asked once by someone in my religious circles where I bought my Valentino flats. I said online, in a tone that implied that it was an odd question.

      I was at a dinner once where someone commented how pretentious it was to wear pricey Canada Goose parka. I said, “Wearing a Canada Goose item, may she wear it for many more years in good health, isn’t pretentious. Commenting on someone else wearing it is.” This by someone whose house contains pricey china, a full set of sterling silver cutlery, multiple pieces of Le Creuset cookware, and a wife with more pieces of quality, not costume, jewelry than my mother and her nine siblings had fingers and toes.

      I can’t wear my favorite shoes to work chasing the kids, but you bet that I enjoy wearing them when I’m out with the SO or on Shabbat.

  61. TCO*

    I have a moderately-paid job in the nonprofit sector and I drive a Lexus SUV. It was several years old when we bought it (and it’s only gotten older in the five years I’ve owned it). We bought it for its reliability and comfort, and have liked it so much that my husband now also drives a used Lexus (for which he paid about 15% of what it cost new).

    My car might still look pretty nice and carry an expensive name, but it’s worth much less than almost any car you could buy new today. While I might drive a car that most people read as expensive, a newer Honda is worth just as much or more. It does make me a little self-conscious given my field, but no one has ever said a judgmental word to me about it across my past few jobs.

    I do occasionally get a “nice car!” comment, to which I just respond with something like, “Yeah, we were looking for reliability and we got it. For a 2006 it still runs really well.”

    At the end of the day, none of us really know how someone else spends their money, or how they have certain possessions, vacations, hobbies, etc. that seem expensive. We all have priorities, we all have different resources from different places, and it’s not worth my energy to care how or why someone else owns a nice watch, purse, car, vacation home, etc.

    OP, I hope you enjoy wearing your grandfather’s watch.

  62. NLMC*

    The diamond in my engagement ring was my great-aunts. I am not a flashy person and never imagined wanting a big diamond until one was offered to me for free.
    I never in a million years would have asked for something this size – nor would he have been able to afford it – but I have felt self conscious wearing it. I have felt the need to justify that the diamond was inherited.
    Maybe because I am someone who has never cared about “the finer things in life.” Or I didn’t want my team to think I was making so much more than them that something like this was affordable.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      ( Feeling like you have to justify it ) “Or I didn’t want my team to think I was making so much more than them that something like this was affordable.” … yeah I can see that as a manager (presumed) this isn’t a good look and I think you were right to proactively bring it up.

      Interesting though that your engagement ring came from ‘your’ side of the family rather than ‘his’ though? That is unusual!

      You said it all when you said you “never imagined wanting a big diamond until one was offered for free” … I get the sense that you actually feel ‘burdened’ in a sense by the magnitude of it. You might want to explore that in your own mind..

      1. NLMC*

        Correct, I am a manager and try to be as transparent with my team as possible.
        I think since I have two brothers that got diamonds from my grandmother my mom wanted me to have something just as nice (or nicer) and my husband’s family doesn’t have any heirloom jewelry.
        I would have been just fine with anything but I absolutely love my ring.
        I don’t know if burdened is the right word but there was a lot of haves and have-nots issues going on when I was growing up and I generally was on the have-nots side. I also expressed that money and things were not the key to happiness. So it felt like a sell-out. There’s a lot more too it as well. I do appreciate you noticing that though!

    2. Filosofickle*

      I feel you. From family, I came into some antique emeralds that are huge and it feels weird to wear them. I don’t wear a lot of expensive or shiny/sparkly things, so it just feels so MUCH. Most people assume they are costume jewelry, which is helpful.

      I was also given a hand-me-down car (an Audi, lol) and I often feel the need to tell people it was a gift. It’s a nicer car than I would have ever bought myself and it has a hugely oversized engine that eats gas, which goes against my environmental values. Yet…it was free. And nicer than anything I could afford. It’s taken me a year to really settle in and stop being weird about it.

  63. LessNosy*

    Ugh – my office is the type to comment on new/”expensive” purchases and it drives me up the wall. When I got a new car (a Mazda 3), in came the “SOMEONE GOT A RAISE, HUH???” comments (I did not. I just saved very well and got a good deal). When my close work friend got a Cadillac (new-to-him, very good condition and again, very good deal), he didn’t hear the end of it.

    I say do what you want and don’t worry about other people. Use my favorite “What a weird thing to say! What do you mean by that?” line to make them explain any weirdness on their end.

    Enjoy your watch, OP – honor your grandfather’s legacy, as you said :)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I wish someone tried me when I came in with a new car because the response would have been “Actually I was in a wreck and totaled my car, how do you feel about yourself right now?” [This was the truth. Everyone here knew though because I missed a day and had a rental car for a week. That and nobody is that rude but dang I do love it when rude people try me.]

    2. It's a No From Me*

      I have never worked in an office where anyone cares about what cars people drive. I never even knew what people drove. A Mazda and Cadillac are regular cars to me. What kind of office had these judgments about cars? Were people being paid super low wages?

  64. A teacher*

    A lot of people these days have Apple watches or similar. A mid-range new Apple Watch is about $400 or so (some are a lot more). That’s not as expensive as your Swiss watch, but an Apple Watch is only going to last a few years. Someone could easily spend $2,500 on smart watches over a decade or two, and in the end have nothing but an obsolete computer, whereas the Swiss watch will probably still be going strong.

    Don’t get me wrong, I quite like my Apple Watch, but the amount a lot of people are suddenly willing to spend on watches that will not last long kind of puts the cost of a legacy Swiss watch in perspective.

    1. Anonariffic*

      I was playing around with the ‘design your own’ watch builder on the Apple website the other day and managed to piece one together that would have cost over $1,700. That’s without clicking the link at the top of the page for the Hermes branded options.

      Needless to say, I’m still wearing my Fitbit.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Yeah, Garmin gets a lot of my money. I had their very first GPS watch, which had an armband GPS unit and separate Timex watch. I just have a Vivoactive Music 3 now, which probably cost less 15 years after the first one I bought and does 100x more. I’d like a higher end model for multi sport, but my husband bought me this one last spring. Yet I couldn’t imagine spending over $1k on a watch that just tells time!

  65. CJ*

    My parents bought me a pricey swiss watch when I (finally, 1.5 years late) finished my undergrad. On my first day at my first “big girl” job the director of our department complimented me on my taste in watches. He was wearing the men’s version of my exact watch. We were “watch twins” for the six years I worked at that company.

  66. in a fog*

    Hmm, this is an interesting topic — and I’ll check later to see if anyone has already broached this in the comments — because I have…well, I wouldn’t say expensive taste in clothes, but given that I work in an industry that is notoriously underpaid, definitely above my station. But I loooooove fashion, so I keep an eye out for sales and outlet stores and secondhand items while getting a lot of my high-turnover basics at places like Target and Old Navy. I make it work.

    For instance, I have a fab new coat that’s listed for about $250, but I got it through a Cyber Monday sale for less than $100. It’s also my first new coat in YEARS.

    I get stuck, though, when someone at work compliments me on an item of clothing I’m wearing, and it’s from a name-brand store where none of us could shop on the regular but I got it on final clearance or something like that. There has to be a graceful way to communicate that without lying or going into a long explanation of my finances, but I haven’t found it yet.

    1. in a fog*

      Compliments me *and* asks me where I got it, to be clear. I’m not necessarily volunteering that info!

    2. Observer*

      I think that something like “Saks had this OUTRAGEOUS sale! 60%off off, can you imagine!” (Insert your name brand store) or “It’s wild what you can find on the FINAL FINAL clearance rack at stores like this.” Convey the idea pretty clearly without going into too much detail.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        OP leans in conspiratorially and stage-whispers to judgmental nosey parker, “It’s a knock-off. You wouldn’t believe what I DIDN’T pay for it!”

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      “Hey I love your bag”
      “Thanks, I got it on sale!”

      That’s a very normal conversation I have both have and heard many times. I think you’re overthinking it! I don’t know why a lie or a long explanation beyond that would ever really be necessary.

  67. Donkey Hotey*

    It’s changed now that there are wearables like the Fitbit, but for a while there, -anything- on worn on the wrist was unique and noteworthy, fancy watch or Timex.

  68. Dave*

    I have always driven hoopties to work. I would park my 18 year old Toyota next to a new BMW and walk into school and didn’t care if a pissed off kid on a rampage keyed my car or kicked the door. My cars were always discussed during lunch, and I laughed about my $1000 car vs the $500 a month car payment. My only grown up toy that I had for many years was a 65 Pontiac GTO convertible. It was pristine, beautiful, stupid fast, and truly an eye turner (does it sound like I miss it). On a Saturday afternoon I must have passed my principal because Monday morning I walked into an inquisition. I still drive hoopties, but I accepted an offer that was too good to be true and now someone else has a great toy.

    1. Little Belle/Big City*

      I was Today Years Old when I learned what a “hooptie” was. (Thanks, Urban Dictionary) I might wear my heirloom jewelry to work (today it’s a diamond cluster ring), but the car I drive is a hooptie-in-training–my 2009 Toyota Corolla, bought in October 2008, has a little over 121,000 miles on it. I bought it brand new, paid it off in four years and plan to drive it till 250,000 miles or when I retire, whichever comes first. It has some scratches and I can’t remember the last time I vacuumed the inside. I work in a downtown metropolitan area and I don’t worry about someone vandalizing or boosting it. Everything still works including the CD player and I still play CDs, yes, I do. Not springing for satellite radio until my hooptie-driving days are over. (and isn’t “Hooptie” a fun word to say? I think it is)

  69. MissDisplaced*

    I’m not sure where the OP works, but I think wearing your grandfather’s watch is fine. And should anyone comment on it, you have a wonderful story of inheritance from a beloved family member (which is quite common with fine jewelry).

    It isn’t anyone’s business really. Even if you carried a logo Louis Vuitton, it could’ve been handed down, a gift or used.

    I think one of the other key things here is also just wearing one “expensive” thing at a time, and not, you know, dripping logo and label overkill. But if you have something you love, wear it!

  70. Retail not Retail*

    So I work with a work release type crew. Naturally they can’t have phones, so most have watches. They can’t have them initially, so they have to ask family to send a watch.

    One guy’s dad sent granddad’s old antique pocketwatch. It’s like! Dad! I’m living in a work release program doing hard physical labor, I need a watch watch.

    The point is your coworkers are nosy and wear whatever you want.

  71. micah*

    I worry about expensive jewelry and clothes at work, but I’m a social worker so I don’t wear fancy jewelry because I feel like I am more relatable to clients if I am not wearing all this fancy stuff.

    But tbh I dunno too many other careers where it would be a big deal.

  72. Argye*

    I’m reminded of my horrible former Dept. Chair. After much lobbying on my part to give the poor grad students a raise (they made a pittance in one of the most expensive areas of the country), she finally agreed. Except that then one of the grad students, whose wife worked full time, bought a new computer that she considered “excessive.” Well, obviously if Joe* can afford a new computer, none of them really need a raise! It took serious arguing for her to not cancel the raise for all 12 people because she disagreed with a purchase that one of them made.

    I’m so glad I’m not there anymore.

    *Not his real name.

  73. LawBee*

    Most people won’t recognize a brand name watch on some else’s wrist. It’s just not something the average person tendS to pay attention to. Wear it.

  74. gsa*

    I did not read the walls of letters, words, and sentences, and lots of words…

    Wear the watch.

    If people ask tell them there was a gift. That is true.

    Personally, I like watches.

    I would most likely comment on your watch. If you told me it was your grandfather’s gift to you, I’d say cool. If you told me it was not my business, that be OK too.


    Wear watch!!!

  75. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    I recently came into a little (little when you think of the cost of a villa in the South of France) extra money and treated myself to a designer goodie. Thanks, PoshMark! I intend to use it every day (in my purse). But it won’t change me. I won’t brag about my daytrips to the art museum on free days or my fully paid for used Chevy. My profligate and frivolous coworkers are cheering me on all the way.

  76. Kelly*

    WTAF. If people have that much free time or interest in fancy pants stuff, let them. It’s so rediculous.

  77. blink14*

    This is all about how you wear the watch. Sure, there may be some people in your office who have detailed knowledge about watch brands and pricing – much like someone interested in jewelry, shoes, handbags, suits, etc, but if you pull it off casually and integrate into your own style, it will be much less obvious that is new (to you)! and expensive!

    I dabble in the higher end of what’s considered “contemporary” designer level bags, plus some higher end jewelry and sunglasses, and I use and wear all of it in my personal life. I tend to keep those items out of my work life, simply because they don’t fit my “work” style and will stand out more. I have my work wardrobe, and items from it rarely cross into my personal style and vice versa.

  78. cncx*

    i work in a place where there are men wearing watches that cost my annual salary. i was wearing my very nice, does exactly what i want it to, automatic Longines and i got side eyes from the Patek Philippe crew…

  79. MCMonkeyBean*

    I definitely don’t think that should be a big deal, but I don’t know your office and I wouldn’t have thought a nice car should matter either unless the guy was literally walking around like “oooh my car is soooo nice!!!”

    I don’t really do expensive jewelry but I think as far as expensive watches go that isn’t really even that wild. A fancy jewelry store near me recently had a closeout sale and I went in and was shocked at how much things cost. There were watches over $20k.

    Also, I imagine there are women in your office who have wedding rings that are worth as much as your watch or more right? As long as you aren’t waving it around and talking about its value I think most people aren’t even likely to notice.

  80. Sharon*

    One year after bonus time at my job, two employees got into an actual fistfight that HR had to break up because they both had purchased the same designer handbag!

  81. Oxford Comma*

    I suspect there are people who will notice the watch and know its worth. There are more who will have no idea.

    I find this so frustrating because you cannot win. You get judged if you aren’t wearing/driving high end items by some for either not looking what they consider your best or because they don’t think you should be able to be wearing/driving items. That might be because they resent you having these. It might be because they think you’re spending you don’t have. It might also be because you are not doing so well but you still happen to have that Dooney Burke bag and they think you’re faking your poverty.

    There’s also an ever-shifting scale. So it’s entirely possible someone thinks a Coach bag is cheap because they themselves can afford a Birkin. Or you could be thinking someone is being snooty by recommending they buy their girlfriend a North Face jacket (I think that was the post).

    My only complaint about people with status items is when they are constantly shoving them in your face. I love my handbags, but it’s not like I thrust them literally under someone’s nose and brag about them.

    Wear the watch.

  82. I like nice tings*

    Is $2500 “frightfully” expensive for a watch? I wouldn’t spend that much (not on a watch but perhaps on something else) but neither would I care that someone else did.

  83. Ori*

    Honestly: $2.5k, while not cheap, is also not extravagant for a great quality watch (e.g., a watch that would outlast 20+ years of regular wear). A watch is jewelry, sure, but it’s also functional — and craftsmanship makes a difference. Plus, in my experience people who aren’t already into watches aren’t necessarily going to recognize a luxury watch brand outside of Rolex — and people who ARE into watches will probably just appreciate your excellent taste.

    TL;DR wear your watch, make your grandfather proud. :)

  84. LogicalOne*

    *Sigh* Materialism. It’s a cancer on our culture. Status and wealth are unnecessary things to obsess over and it’s sad. Really, it stems from staring at the TV for too long, idolizing celebrities and the need for validation. If you feel that depressed or are that insecure that you need to show how “Happy” or “Successful” you are, then go get some help and wake up. Besides, this watch is from a family member. Wear it proudly, f*ck whoever makes unnecessary comments and call them a boomer, make your family proud. As someone who comes from humble beginnings and has grown up on the less privileged side of life, the least you should be worrying about are others’ negative and distasteful comments. Wear what you want to wear (Within the legal scope of the law and your workplace rules of course).

  85. It's a No From Me*

    My first car as a student was an old Audi. Not in a million years would I consider an Audi to be a luxury brand.

  86. Enginear*

    People get all fascinated when they see brands such as Audi or BMW but some of them cost less than a Camry or Accord lol

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