Theory of a Leisure Class


If any place embodies Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of a Leisure Class (well, besides the United States), it’s definitely Milan. Veblen coined this idea of “conspicuous consumption” to describe when people buy things to show off their wealth rather than to fulfill a real need. Like, Keeping up with the Kardashians. And that’s definitely what Milan feels like.

Everything in Milan is so fancy. Walking through the main shopping district, it was like, am I even allowed to breathe? Is this ok? Is there a cover charge for looking in this window? This gelato costs how much? Why is there an ad for Dolce & Gabana at the train station? Surely we are all aware of Dolce & Gabana by now? Surely the people who buy Dolce & Gabana now take private helicopters everywhere?

Some shitty low-quality pics I took back in ’10

Also, have you been to the Milan cathedral? Or better yet, the roof of the Milan cathedral? I didn’t go when I was there in March, but I went when I was in Italy with my parents in 2010 and it is ridiculous. It’s so detailed and ornate which is crazy because that shit ain’t even visible from the ground, and you know it probably opened to the general public only like 50 years ago.


This is definitely what Veblen had in mind when he coined the term “conspicuous consumption”.


(Sorry for the unexpected hiatus–nothing happened, I just wasn’t motivated to write much of anything the past month!)

8 Replies to “Theory of a Leisure Class”

  1. Oh never been to Milan, but certain streets in Paris sure feel this way too, like the air gets sort of thicker, you step into a some sort of fashion Disney land, all display and money and fancy fancy stuff… 😆 I’m always so relieved when I get back to the “real streets” 😄


  2. I’m hardly a tread setter or early adopter, but I don’t need 3/4 of the stuff in my house. Not exactly the Walden I would have aspired to. I do appreciate all of the attention to detail in the architecture shared here though. “Sorry for the unexpected hiatus…” Since I look forward to your posts, I forgive you. LOL


  3. I didn’t get the connection between the cathedral roof and consumption, to be honest 🙂 What I see there is the art and the excellence of human work. Surely, lot of art was created because there was someone who could pay. But to call it a piece of conspicuous consumption would be to draw it far, no? Just opinioning freely here 🙂


  4. Welcome back :))

    The buildings in the photos look beautiful, but I didn’t like what you wrote about consumption and fanciness. Doesn’t sound like a place I’d enjoy 😀


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