22 Status Symbols Through the Decades

How does one know when they’ve “made it” in life? Sure, joy, passion, and happy relationships are good, but what about stuff? What gadgets do we consider status symbols? Appliance company De’Longhi recently conducted a study on the topic, asking over 4,000 British consumers about what is considered a status symbol today, and also over the past several decades. Click through to take a look back at the technology that used to make us swoon. Times certainly have changed!


What was voted the number one status symbol for 2012? A hot tub! Also on the list: a walk-in closet, side-by-side refrigerator-freezer (or “U.S.-style fridge”), and a stereo system with speakers in every room.

The ’90s

  • Black dining room table& chairs
  • Bread maker: Before the low-carb craze took hold in the early 2000s, making bread at home was seen as a treat.
  • Beige carpet

The ’80s

  • Commodore 64 computer: Introduced in 1982 for $595, the Commodore 64 is still the best-selling personal computer model of all time. It also made Time magazine’s list of “All-TIME 100 Gadgets.”
  • Avocado-colored bathroom
  • Garbage disposal
  • Microwave

Image: Creative Commons

The ’70s

  • Fondue set
  • Betamax: Introduced in 1975, this rival to the VHS system eventually lost in the format war between the two, mostly because VHS tapes were able to squeeze in the most recording time.
  • Color TV
  • Mini-bar

The ’60s

  • Washing machine: After World War II, many US manufacturers introduced competing automatic washing machine models. By the 1960s, prices had become more affordable for consumers.
  • Sewing machine
  • Colorful kitchen cabinets
  • Electric carving knife

The ’50s

  • Transistor radio: Popular because of their portability, transistor radios allowed people to listen to music anywhere they went.
  • Push-button phone
  • Electric toaster

10 Worst Home Trends of the Decade
Top 16 Retro Candies
7 Old-Time Solutions to Domestic Problems


Olivia Dawson
Olivia Dawson2 years ago

I think the moral of this list is don't let status symbols influence your home decor choices. Beige carpets & avacardo sinks. yuck.

Tammy Baxter
Tammy B4 years ago

interesting and fun! thanks!

Jessica R.
Jessica Reff5 years ago

Fun article!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

interesting for sure. some of the old stuff i still would like.. a mini bar!

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

Wow, how times has changed.

Silas Garrett
Silas Garrett5 years ago

Interesting to see how things have changed... not sure about this hot tub thing, really... but I suppose things are different in the UK than the US, and space is more of a priority.

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago


Amanda M.
Amanda M5 years ago

Being someone who considers status symbols to be showoffish, I don't really pay any attention to this kind of thing. Keeping up with the Joneses just leaves us rich in clutter and poorer in wallet.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against technology at all. I simply tell people that I think like the Amish-I'm just really picky about what forms of new technology I genuinely find useful. If we have a need or a real use for it, we get the bare-bones version without a ton of unnecessary bells and whistles. If we don't have a use or genuine need for it, we don't buy it.

Cheryl I.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you

Michele Mihlack
Michele Mihlack5 years ago

I don't find these to be status symbols personally....but then I'm not one who cares about status....I think a personal laptop to me is a status...and being able to use it anywhere.