Everyone's talking about: Bougie broke

Everyone’s talking about: Bougie broke

Sorry, what’s broken?

Middle-class finances.

I’m not following.

Bougie is a contraction of ‘bourgeois’. Broke as in no money.

That sounds more like a contradiction than a contraction.

It’s not. The formerly affluent are feeling the pinch.

Bottles of Monsigny Brut champagne pictured in a shopping trolley in Aldi – a budget supermarket

You mean you are?

No! We’re minted, thanks. Absolutely rolling in it. But, you know, people a bit like us. 

What’s up with those people?

According to The Times they’re having to suffer the indignity of buying champagne from you-know-where.

I don’t know where.

‘The German grocery’.

Are you talking about Aldi?

Shhhhhh! Someone will hear you.

What’s wrong with buying champagne from Aldi?

The Veuve Monsigny is £14.99.

Isn’t that good if you’re broke?

Yes, but you don’t want your wealthy mates to get wind of it.

What else are the ‘bougie broke’ hiding?

The article mentioned one struggling aspirational who was using orange food dye to make his scrambled eggs ‘appear more Burford than Asda’.

Are his friends trying to catch him out with colour charts at breakfast?

What I think you need to  appreciate here is that being well-heeled isn’t just about grand gestures. It’s also about an accumulation of small social signifiers.

Plus, you know what the French say about a pale egg, don’t you?

No, what do they say? 

It’s un oeuf.

We don’t feel you’re taking this existential angst seriously.

Come on, social scrambling over scrambled eggs is mad.

Was it you who tweeted that response to The Times article?

Which tweet?

‘That side of salmon I served you the other day was actually squirrel marinated in Berocca.’ 

It wasn’t but I approve because this is ridiculous. You sound like Hyacinth Bucket. 

Had Hyacinth had access to social media she would doubtless have coined the phrase, but instead the task fell to a style-conscious TikTok user called Josh Jacobs. 

What did Josh’s video say?

‘Have you ever been broke, but no one believes you because you don’t look like a broke person – you [are] a bougie broke.’

And people felt that described them?

Yes, they did. Videos with #bougiebroke have had 9.3 million views on TikTok.

How do so many people have the leisure time to fret over champagne and egg yolk? 

It’s not always about food. In fact, many of the bougie broke life hacks focus on shopping and beauty. 

Go on…

One of our cash-strapped friends has taken to keeping posh Neal’s Yard Hand Wash dispensers and filling them up with the cheap hand wash from Sainsbury’s.

To be honest, I’ve been doing that for years. What else?

A TikTok titled ‘How to look bougie on Instagram for $59’ advises ordering the cheapest thing on the Louis Vuitton website (which is a $59 notebook, since you ask).

Why would I do that?

Because it comes with lots of packaging that you post on Instagram, and everyone will think you’ve got something more expensive than a notebook.

But then they’ll ask you what you’ve bought…

No, they won’t. That’s not what affluent people do. They’ll just think: ‘Ah, yes, one of us.’

I can’t help agreeing with sentiments posted in the comments section of The Times by (the aptly named) Ben Rapp.

Which sentiments are those?

‘Please don’t use “bougie”. It’s American slang and manages to be both offensive and infantile.’

Josh Jacobs – he who first coined the term ‘bougie broke’ – suggests an alternative descriptor with a very respectable 4.3 million TikTok views.

Will Mr Rapp like this term any better?

We’re guessing not.

Let’s give him the choice, anyway.


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