IF you can’t walk around your home without knocking into your smart TV, Smeg fridge or Spiralizer then chances are you’re officially middle class. A new etiquette guide has revealed the brands that define middle England and there are 16 items that you need to qualify.
Vinyl records, hot tubs and folding Brompton bicycles also signify an aspirational household. An increase in household income over the past two decades has created a rise of wealthier households, with over 40 per cent now defining themselves as middle-class, according to expert William Hanson.
It’s not just expensive items, for example, matching coasters and barbeques are also included. The top item – a smart TV – is apparently owned by 38 per cent of middle class households, while a barbecue is in 31 per cent of gardens.
Mr Hanson, author of The Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette, said: “The middle classes have always been known for their love of material possessions and for keeping up with their neighbours, with suburban one-upmanship taking place on a daily basis.
“They are constantly looking for the next thing they can install, fit or mount in their homes to be a cut about those next door.”
Take the quiz: how middle class are you?
The full list, which was commissioned by insurance company esure, is as follows:
1. Smart TV – owned by 42 per cent of middle class households
A TV that is more than just a TV – how exciting. They buy it, they use the extra functions for the first week or two, but after that it reverts to being used as a standard television. But it is important for friends to know that you own a TV that does so much more than play out BBC1.
2. Dyson vacuum owned by 38 per cent of middle class households
Sir James Dyson is the archetypal hero of Middle England. A self-made middle class chap, nicely educated, titled, international success, and most importantly, inventor of something that minimises that scourge of neat, practical middle class houses… dust!
If it were possible, Sir James will soon be canonised. Some now even leave their Dyson vacuum out in full view for friends to see when calling in for coffee.
3. A barbecue owned by 31 per cent of middle class households
The more middle class you are, the more impressive the barbecue. The barbecue is beloved by the men of the middle classes: the butch equivalent of the Aga. A focal point for alfresco entertaining.
4. Vinyl records – owned by 17 per cent of middle class households
Even though the audio quality of a record on vinyl is not as good as opposed to a digital file or even a CD, many youngish, trendy middle class couples in search of an identity now ‘collect’ vinyls (they have about nine) as if to show how different and how musically puritanical they are.
5. iMac computer – owned by 12 per cent of middle class households
You have to hand it to Apple but their product design is very good. It’s so good it’s so expensive.
So having the latest retina, 4k, 100Ghz flatscreen techno-marvel sitting neatly on a desk shows that the users not only are ‘cool’ but can afford this ‘cool’. It’s a silent symbol of wealth.
6. Nutribullet – owned by 11 per cent of middle class households
By buying one of these, consumers buy-in to the idea that they will be lithe, slinky hotshots with taught skin and firm buttocks.
It sits proudly on the worktop as there’s no point putting it in a cupboard as visitors won’t be able to see that their hosts are paragons of health. It gets used once or twice to begin with and then stays idle until people realise it’s actually really marvellous for whizzing up fresh breadcrumbs.
7. Antler or Samsonite luggage – owned by 10 per cent of middle class households
The middles classes do enjoy things that match. And what could be smarter than arriving at the airport for a trip to the south of France with numerous suitcases of varying sizes, but all of the same design, from a leading brand like Antler or Samsonite?
8. Wood burning stove – owned by 9 per cent of middle class households
The wood burning stove gives suburban houses the warmth of a fire but is much cleaner. Soot stays in the stove and doesn’t mess up the ‘living room’. An open fire would be far too much hard work: there’s no nice easy-clean grate.
9. Spiralizer – owned by 8 per cent of middle class households
The latest kitchen health gadget that gets used for a few weeks and then tossed aside, next to the pasta maker and the ice cream machine.
Supermarkets have now realised that no one has the time to spiralize their own courgettes and butternut squash anymore and so they now sell pre-packaged ‘courgetti’ and ‘boodles’ (butternut squash noodles).
10. Mulberry bag- owned by 5 per cent of middle class households
Once a sign of the upper classes, like many things before it, the Mulberry bag is still a very smart bag but something that every middle class woman of a certain age owns.
It’s a status symbol. Mulberry Middles will hunt out other Mulberry Middles at parties or in shops, but only strike up conversation if their Mulberry isn’t as nice as their own
11. Matching coasters – owned by 5 per cent of middle class households
Perhaps the most middle class of all things to have in a house would be a set of coasters… even more middle class then coasters: MATCHING coasters.
Entering a sitting room, or – as it will be called in a middle class house ‘a living room’ – and seeing neat little matching squares or discs purposefully and considerately placed at regular intervals, territoriality marking out where you are supposed to sit and place your drink is an obsession only found in Middle England, none of whom want their flat-pack furniture marked.
12. Boiling water taps – owned by 4 per cent of middle class households
A boring old kettle? Who’d want one of those? Having to WAIT for it to boil? Why not have boiling water constantly on tap with…a boiling water tap. How handy? Trouble with these is that it makes a domestic kitchen look like the communal one in the office.
13. Hot tub – owned by 4 per cent of middle class households
Trendy middles are obsessed with having a hot tub – by having one on their ‘patio’ they are conjuring up memories or an exotic alpine apres-ski, which somewhat jars with the ambience of leafy Pinner.
14. Aga range cooker – owned by 4 per cent of middle class households
A little hackneyed now but still a good sign that you’re in a house of good standing, the Aga is THE status symbol for many.
For upper class houses the older and rustier the Aga the better and preferably oil or gas, but for the middles it’s got to be pristine and preferably one of the new electric ones (so much cleaner!).
15. Smeg fridge – owned by 4 per cent of middle class households
When it comes to home refrigeration, for the middles, size does matter. There’s no better way to intimidate your friends by the size of your fridge freezer. Big is beautiful. An ice machine means extra points, as it’s an extra gadget and function for your fridge, which is given the same love as one of your children.
16. Brompton bike – owned by 3 per cent of middle class households.
The middle classes are much heralded for their practicality and what could be more practical than a bike that folds-away and can then be easily carried? The same middle classes adore anything overtly health related and so a practical bike that shows all and sundry that they cycle to and from work is a powerful mix for them.
How did you score?
0: ‘Not middle class’ You’re a true person of the people. Kudos on ignoring the middle class masses, while you cycle to work on an adult-sized bike and chop vegetables with a knife like your forefathers.
1 – 4: ‘A little middle class’ Caught between practicality and opulence, you’re an interesting mix. Perhaps you’re resisting middle England or are a fast riser up the list. Is it worth getting a record player for those vinyls?
5-12: ‘Very middle class’ Nice and secure in the upper-middle classes, your suburban home is full of Mulberrys, Nutribullets and the barbecue where you host your similarly well-to-do friends on a Sunday-afternoon
13-16: ‘Extremely middle class’ There’s no two ways about it, you’re a country lord! Celebrate this achievement by trying to fill your abnormally huge fridge and spending more time arranging fancy coasters than drinking your Chai tea off them.