Yuppies and Scuppies by Apparel Search: Fashion Terms by Apparel Search

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According to fashion-era.com, "yuppie" was a 1980s acronym for 'Young Upwardly Mobile Professional Person'. The word was coined by the advertising industry to capture the essence of a particular type of work hard, play hard, ambitious-minded, city career person of either sex. The hectic lifestyle of a yuppie meant that after long hours of work, rare free time was spent in a self indulgent way frittering away the cash earned on anything, from expensive make up and perfume, to a bottle of fine champagne. Conspicuous wastage was part of the attitude. For day yuppies sported wide-shouldered jackets and for weekends they wore a Barbour to effect a country aesthetic or a ball-gown to assume the appearance of a more advantaged lifestyle.

One of the strongest looks of the 1980s was power dressing. After John Molloy wrote his book "Women Dress For Success" in 1975, corporate America took it to heart and women began to abandon the incomplete look of mismatched skirt, sweater or blouse for a full-jacketed sober suit. Soon the concept came to Britain and the rest of Europe followed.

Fashion history records the power suit and dressing for success as the symbol of the 1980s.  The best know icons of 1980s fashion for power dressing were Mrs. Thatcher and The Princess of Wales, Diana. Designer labels and branding gained impetus.  Brand names became status symbols for sports gear and sportswear, perfumes, electrical equipment, cars and fashion designer goods such as clothing, bags, luggage, scarves and spectacles. The appearance of affluence was reinforced by access to designer label goods. By the mid-eighties tills rang not with cash, but the increasing use of credit cards. It was all such a relief to the consumer to be able to spend and actively be encouraged to consume after years of recession. Clothing purchases soared. Interiors were decorated. Showing wealth was superficially powerful.

Apparel Search discovered another term that relates to today's lifestyle and economic climate. According to Stylelist.com, yuppies have been on the way out. The other, more timely term is the "scuppie." A scuppie is defined as a "socially-conscious, upwardly mobile person," someone who combines a taste for the high-life, social climbing, and wealth with a socially-responsible mentality, kind of like a yuppie with a heart. Like their predecessors, scuppies are into conspicuous consumption, but the status symbols in the scuppie universe aren't limited to a Rolex and tailored suits. For scuppies, a hybrid car is just as good as a Chanel handbag. 

The term scuppie defines that guy at Whole Foods who is wearing a Tonic Generation t-shirt and filling a reusable canvas bag with fair-trade coffee while he talks to his broker about how his "green stocks" are doing. Unlike yuppie-ism, the scuppie mentality seems to have a sense of karma, altruism, and 'doing good.' Some scuppies might actually do the unthinkable and volunteer for things.

The term scuppie didn't just come out of nowhere, it was invented by scuppie guru Chuck Falia, who noticed that yuppies all over were starting to change into something new. His work-in-progress "
The Scuppie Handbook: A Practical guide to Living Well While Doing Good" explains the finer points of scuppidom and scuppie style.

Written for Apparel Search by Regina Cooper October 2010.

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