Things that used to be considered "high class" that are now tacky

The first thing that comes to mind for me is chocolate fountains… maybe they’ve always been gross and tacky, I guess that’s up for debate. But when I was a kid, it seemed like the height of luxury to have a chocolate fountain at brunch. Now that they’re in every Golden Corral and available as an impulse purchase at Wal*Mart, it just kind of seems tacky.

What else fits the bill?

Ostentation in general.

Cigarette holders

Airline travel. It used to be elegant when hardly anyone could afford it. Now it’s a zoo.

I suppose the same could be said for rail travel a few generations ago.

Cigarette holders had a practical purpose - they kept a lady’s fingers, or gloves, from being stained with tobacco, in the days before filtered cigarettes.

Perhaps we have a different definition of “high-class”.

Chocolate fountains have never been “high class”. Can you picture an old-money couple having friends over and having a chocolate fountain? I can’t.

Chocolate fountains and other ostentatious methods of offering food or drink are something you see from the nouveau riche.

Linoleum flooring. When first invented this was the toast of the town. Now it’s seen as cheap flooring.

It’s a cheat to say “brick-sized cellphone,” right?

What the hell is “brick-sized cellophane”?

Yes, I read that several times before I got it right.

All black waitstaff?

How about plastic covered furniture? Maybe not so much “classy” as “nice” though.

Abercrombie & Fitch and Burberry come to mind as brands that’ve become rather de-gentrified over the years.

A few decades ago it was seen as cheap flooring. Now vinyl is the cheap flooring and real linoleum made from cork and linseed oil has made a comeback as green, trendy and upscale.

Well there you go. I can’t wait for brick sized cellphones to become trendy again.

Flamingo sculptures in your front lawn. Originally, they were made of brass, and signified that you were wealthy enough to afford a vacation in Florida. Now, nearly everyone can afford to travel to Florida, and plastic flamingos are considered the ultimate in tackiness.

In the movie Thunderball, the villain is very wealthy. He owns a big yacht. The crewmen all wear matching uniforms: t-shirts with the boat’s name silkscreened on their chests! In the 1960s, personalized t-shirts were expensive and rare. A decade later, they were cheap and common.

Some high-end fashion brands have a sort of parabolic trajectory- they start out upscale, become very popular and exclusive, and then as their trendy star dims, they start marketing successively to each level down, until they’re being sold at Kohl’s or Target or somewhere like that.

Pierre Cardin and Izod shirts come to mind…


How about graduations? College and high school are still kind of a big deal, but a fourth grade graduation ceremony? A preschool graduation ceremony?! (One of my employees got to do one of each last year.) High schools are increasingly pressured to let kids walk with their friends even if they haven’t completed all of the requirements yet. What used to be an accomplishment is just a photo op now.

Maybe Don Corleone at the wedding of his child…

[ Still, I read somewhere these old mafioso bandits in 20th century America favoured heavy Victoriania since that was the style in the mid-19th century Sicilian aristocrats’ houses they had stared at when small gardeners’ boys or whatever in the old country.

I guess Sicilian aristos might be unimpressed with chocolate fountains. ]

Oddly enough I was only reading the Wiki on Linoleum the other day, from a thread here.

Somehow it seems an odd invention, inspired by watching slowly jellifying linseed oil… Mr. Walton, the inventor lived to the age of 94.

*Walton also tried integrating designs into linoleum during the manufacturing stage, coming up with granite, marbled, and jaspé (striped) linoleum. For the granite variety, granules of various colours of linoleum cement were mixed together, before being hot-rolled. If the granules were not completely mixed before rolling, the result was marbled or jaspé patterns.
*I had not heard of the word jaspé before.

Basically, anything marketed to even the tiniest of mass markets, and demonstrates that through Advertising, has already lost it’s virtue and is now *déclassé.

*The very rich don’t buy advertised stuff. Those who make the best don’t need to hawk their wares. The sort of people who can afford such goods already know what is best made.

Possum dinner.

Voting Republican.