How Do We Know What “Expensive” Looks Like?

And why is it so easy to pick out what looks “cheap?”

The Price Is Right

So BuzzFeed has this new quiz where they show you nine prom dresses and ask you to pick the most expensive one.

I picked it out right away, although it’s hard to say how I made my (maybe lucky) guess.

It’s easier to explain how I knew the cheaper dresses were cheap; they used less fabric, had fewer pieces, and were less structured to the body. The dress that has a straight-cut skirt and looks like it might stretch to fit a few different measurements is going to be less expensive than the fitted, mermaid-skirt dress with the asymmetrical peplum.

(In case you’re worried about being spoiled, I still haven’t told you which of the BuzzFeed dresses is the most expensive. Have at it and let us know if you guessed right.)

The $58 dress—and yes, there’s a $58 dress in there—looks fine, especially in the professional photograph designed to get someone to buy it. It’s an ideal Prom dress, honestly. Probably very comfortable.

But next to the most expensive, $1,290 dress, that $58 dress is probably going to look cheap.

So I’m curious: can you tell, in general, whether a thing is cheap or expensive? Is it easier to visually identify (and rank) the cheap products than it is to pull out the most expensive one?

And, of course: does it matter?

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