Hmm, did I miss something, or did somebody not get the message that the economy is in the tank and conspicuous consumption has been supplanted by fiscal conservatism?

You’d never know it from some of the stuff in the media these days.

Esquire, like many mass circulation magazines a mere shadow of what it once was, is mostly sophomoric articles about men’s fashions, drinking, and assorted movie star/show biz stuff slanted toward the younger male.

But I keep subscribing because it has consistently excellent in-depth feature articles on issues, politics, and interesting people.

One wonders, though, at the demographics of readers in their targeted age group when, to outfit oneself with the fashions they feature would require an income that’s likely many notches beyond that of their average subscriber.

Example, a recent featured outfit included a Kiton “two-button 13.2 micron wool suit ($11,000), cotton shirt ($825), silk tie ($250), and leather shoes ($3,000).”

Let’s see, for roughly $15,000, one would presumably be acceptably dressed for happy hour at the nearest fern bar. (Although not included in this featured outfit, for probably another $5,000 or so, one might be able to add a suitable belt, cufflinks, socks, and undies.)

While one can applaud the choice of a cotton shirt in this fashion getup, who in the world pays $825 for a shirt? Wall Street bankers? Oil company zillionaires? And how many $825 shirts can a clothier reasonably expect to sell?

How much of that 825 smackeroos, one can only wonder, will filter back to the cotton grower?

If one happens to be Rafael Nadal, six-time Grand Slam tennis champ, one might well have a closet full of $11,000 suits and $825 shirts. If one can, as he did at the recent French Open, take to the court while wearing a $525,000 watch, well then, what’s a piddly $15,000 for a clothing outfit?

The watch, which one presumes stood up under Nadal’s exertions on the court, was made of carbon composite and lithium alloys, just for him, by Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille, and weighs a mere 20 grams.

One can assume that, for half-a-mill-plus, it keeps reasonably accurate time.

And then there is rapper Sean Combs, a.k.a. P. Diddy, who shelled out a cool $360,000 for a silver Maybach automobile as a gift to his son for his 16th birthday.

“It’s what I wanted to do,” he explained somewhat testily to nosy media inquiries. “I could do whatever I want to do and you can’t question me about it.”

One would guess that a few $11,000 suits and $825 cotton shirts would be pocket change for Mr. Diddy.

Finally, as a sign things are turning around in the housing market, America’s most expensive house — a California manse with 10 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, all “supersized,” and 16 imported Italian marble fireplaces — has sold for a reported $72 million.

Happy days are here again…

e-mail: hbrandon@farmpress.com