Some attribute the retreat to a craving for intimacy and familiarity, after the wrenching dislocations of Sept. 11. Others see a return to frugality and inconspicuous consumption in a recession.
Kate Betts, "The Fine Art Of Being A Homebody," The New York Times, December 30, 2001
Connie Cutter, "I'm O.K. -- You're Fat," Sojourner: The Women's Forum, April 30, 1980
In other words, the conspicuous consumer spends money to impress other people and to ensure that others are well aware of the spender's socioeconomic status. By contrast, the inconspicuous consumer doesn't want to impress anyone. In fact, what they really want is for other people to think of them as being lower on the socioeconomic totem pole than they really are. This is partially a desire not to flaunt one's good fortune, and it's also a security measure, the idea being that one will be less likely to be robbed if one doesn't act or appear rich.