Inverted snobbery re-inverted then twisted round and nudged a bit to one side

If ‘inverted snobbery’ is despising all things that suggest wealth or poshness whilst at once lauding all things redolent of poverty and a lack of social status, what’s it called when people elevate the grotty and claim it to be exquisite and élite (with an acute accent, obviously)?

I’ve long been struggling with the oxymoronic and dishonest concept of ‘shabby chic’. ‘Shabby’ (old and tatty and in need of a lick of paint or other such refurbishment) I get; ‘chic’ (new and smart and totally not in need of any licks of paint or refurbishments) I get; but put them together and… Nah, not buying it. Either a thing’s past its prime and you don’t care/like it that way/can’t afford a new one/haven’t noticed cos you’ve aged with it — or it’s not. Why pretend?

I have nothing against old and shabby (hell, I’m fairly old and shabby myself) if a thing has sentimental value, or is useful, or the best one can afford, or other myriad reasons — just so long as it’s not considered ‘chic’.

Similarly, I disapprove of barn conversions. Well no, that’s not entirely true. Some of them are lovely, but why on earth would anyone think that living in a barn conversion is something to brag about? Isn’t it much the same as saying your address is The Old Pig Sty and you can still smell the delightful aroma of porcine effluent on a warm summer’s eve? Some barn conversions have indeed been tastefully and elegantly done, but — well — I think if I lived in one I’d call it a ‘country house’ or some such and keep quiet about its having originally been a place for keeping grain, straw, or livestock.


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