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"Miranda Priestly: 'This... stuff'? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select... I don't know... that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent... wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff."


It's a beautifully written defense of connoisseurship. I can't help but admire the force of the writing and the depth of knowledge conveyed by Anna Wintour's double. It's the best line of the movie.

But, getting past all that eloquence, and back to the point -- doesn't it seem like too much intelligence wasted on too little substance? I think the person in the lumpy blue sweater can say, I actually do not care about your convoluted story. I put this on because I have to wear something rather than nothing, but its history has no interest for me.

This is not a philistine rejection of all design. Just a certain frivolous part that takes itself too seriously.

> doesn't it seem like too much intelligence wasted on too little substance?

That's an interesting argument. The answer is no, and it's because fashion and other seemingly frivolous pursuits serve a very clear function in the society. Finding a mate, a business partner, a friend, etc. is often very difficult. You generally want to hang out with the best, the smartest, the most influential people possible. However there is no easy way to tell! It would be nice and easy if the best and the smartest were also the best looking, but it is not always the case. Also, there is no "IQ coefficient" badge on the forehead. There is really no way to tell other than either by asking questions (too direct!) or by observing subtle social clues. Fashion sense and social skills are some of those clues.

From the other side of the coin, when you are smart, you want to advertise that. But it would be unsubtle to put up an IQ coefficient badge on your forehead. And being unsubtle (which equates to failure to consider all possible consequences) is seen as a mark of low intelligence. It is the same way in the human society as it is in chess. In chess, if you don't think through as many possible moves as you can, you lose. So you try to look smart, subtle, sophisticated, and up-to-date, at the same time without coming across as too direct or vulgar. It is very hard.

BTW, the unkempt "nerd" look is also an advertisement -- albeit to a limited audience.

It works the same way in humans as it does in lyrebirds. All animal societies share some fundamental similarities.

Which would have failed utterly in the instance that the person being addressed was wearing something that she couldn't twist into being a result of the whims of the fashion industry.

But then of course, they'd just be rebuking bad taste, because it's not really possible that they might, after all, just be genuinely wasting time.

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