Is expensive better than amazing?

Or does being expensive make it amazing?

How we perceive and value products has become how we perceive and value people. The first time I saw the headline “How To Look Expensive,” I laughed. Then I started to see it more often, with more areas of life tagged onto it.

How to make your home look expensive.
How to look expensive at work.
How to look expensive on a budget.
Get the guide to look expensive.

A Google search reveals the questions we care about, and people are asking:

Can I look expensive if I’m not rich?
How can I make my face look expensive?
What hair looks expensive?

Maybe “expensive” is shorthand for being classy, intelligent, graceful, charming, and confident – all the things that can’t be bought.

But we keep trying to buy it.

I’m not surprised by our desire to project a certain image of wealth. It’s the result of us equating a person’s net worth with their worth as a human being. Still, knowing why we do what we do doesn’t make it any less sad.

And I am sad, because recently I found out that someone close to me prefers that I buy them cakes over me making them cakes, simply because the bought cake is expensive, and expensive is impressive. Oh, they don’t mind the FREE cake I make them at all. They admit they love the flavors and textures, the creativity, and even the look.

It’s just that – you know – it’s free.

Free, like the promotional pens you might have laying around your house, announcing car insurance you’ll never need. The pen is useful and you expect it to be there when you jot down notes, and you might even get annoyed if you don’t have a freebie pen floating around to serve your life.

Free is basically the stuff that junks up your drawers, but you keep around for your own benefit. It was a revelation seeing me and my cake being relegated to the junk drawer – things that are valuable enough to be there, but not valuable enough to be displayed.

None of that stuff is truly free. There is a cost to make those freebie pens, and likewise, there is a cost to free cake! Not just the immediate cost of ingredients, time, and effort, but the cost of spending all those years – half of my life! – working to gain and apply more pastry knowledge. And sure, I “know my worth” and all, and I do know how to price out my pastries, but who makes a cake as a gift then charges the recipient for it? Or, who acts so gauche to give a gift but announce how much you would have charged for it?

It’s a tough world when cake gets no respect unless it has a hefty price tag on it.

If it’s that hard for cake, it’s that much harder for people.

No wonder the internet is full of advice on how to look expensive.

Here’s a trick to make cake look expensive: Handle it the same way you would handle yourself if you were walking down a red carpet with hundreds of cameras flashing at you.

You would be clean.

You would be composed.

You would make sure everything about your look has a purpose, is perfectly in place, and only enhances, not detracts.

If you’re not feeling creative, keep decor to a minimum and adorn with some gold-leaf. This way, the blank expanse highlights the gold and announces to everyoneLook! it‘s EXPENSIVE.