Designer watch is new sign you’ve made it

FROM THE orangeries favoured by the Victorian aristocracy to today’s double-glazed additions to detached bungalows, the conservatory has long been considered ultimate status symbol.

Sunday, 20th April 2014, 6:40 pm
Silva Ferrari modelling the Diamond Tiara

But it seems the extension’s days as a symbol of prosperity are over. In modern Britain, the humble conservatory is commonplace - according to a new study of 2,000 Brits.

Cordless phones and satellite television are among other household items for which connotations of wealth and success have faded away over the last 30 years.

The study, carried out by cashback website Quidco, found you need a swimming pool or tennis court in the back garden if you want to impress the neighbours these days.

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And indoors, a dishwasher simply won’t do - you must instead employ a dish-washer, or some other form of domestic help.

Andy Oldham, Quidco’s managing director, said: “Things our parents grew up dreaming of owning - a dishwasher, colour TV and even a mobile phone - are now so normal that almost everyone has them.

“In some cases, things which were considered to be exclusive items only the rich and successful owned in the 1980s, don’t even exist anymore, or have been replaced by far more superior models.”

The retro car phone favoured by the Yuppies of the day came top in the run-down of status symbols of the 1980s, with sending children to private school also placed in the top five.

Flash forward to today and the number one way to show you’ve made it is hitting the road in a high performance car, followed closely by accessorising with a designer watch.

While a second car would be considered a display of success back in 1980, in 2014 such an association requires a second home.

For fashionistas, a fur coat is now considered commonplace, but a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes double as an assertion of wealth.

When it comes to accessories, expensive designer handbags such as Prada and Mulberry replace diamonds as a girls’ best friend.

Holidays abroad, particularly outside of Europe, were also seen as signs of success, but 16 per cent believed that just having a holiday, regardless of where or when, was enough to show you were well-off.

Readers might peruse the list of status symbols of the past with a wry smile, but the survey has revealed that the art of showing off is no laughing matter for the nation’s population.

Respondents of today are more likely to judge someone on their belongings and lifestyle, according to Quidco, with four in ten believing people put more importance on status symbols now than in previous generations.

Mr Oldham continued: “People still hope to one day own some of the things on the list of status symbols.

“One thing that remains is the desire to have the best of the best and be a success - even if those status symbols are now more extravagant and expensive than they were in the eighties.”

Homes of today need to be worth £603,676 before they can be a status symbol - a far cry from the £46,618-and-above price tag the previous generation associated with the rich.

On top of that, the household income of £18,291 perceived as standard for the successful three decades ago would now stands at £105,490.

Savings and investments in 2014 must also add up to just over £65,000, according to those surveyed.

Mr Oldham added: “It is no secret that the cost of living has increased dramatically between generations, as have the returns on properties, pensions and savings.

“Those craving for modern day status symbols need to be smart with their money, or exceptionally successful in their careers.”