A New, Old Trend
The pendulum of fashion often swings drastically, and lately, I have been feeling the whiplash. Over the last couple of years, I have noticed an increase in social media content about aesthetics that have been coined “old money” and “quiet luxury.” This is in contrast to the resurgence of “logomania” trend, which is rumored to be on its way out. Now, what does any of this mean and what does it matter? This is a shopping addiction blog, so why go into detail on fashion, which can lead to buying clothes? Clothing is one of the most commonly purchased items for those with a shopping addiction. This is exactly why we need to take a closer look at what is being marketed to us. This knowledge can empower us to make more thoughtful choices instead of being pulled this way and that. Additionally, we are currently experiencing a particularly fascinating period of fashion that reflects some of the current socioeconomic shifts. There is a lot to unpack, so pour a cup of tea and settle in because I’m going for a long format with this one.I worked on this post for a couple of months and debated whether to post it. Despite my intention to write more fashion-oriented content, I haven’t done so yet. Therefore, this is my first post … Continue reading
What are Old Money and Quiet Luxury?
Old money and quiet luxury have become synonymous on social media, although there are some differences. Based on my extensive research (we all know that entails going down a YouTube and TikTok rabbit hole), quiet luxury items are exquisitely made, expensive, and understated. Unless you’re familiar with them, you wouldn’t recognize these items as expensive. Content creators often say, “If you know, you know” (IYKYK). On the other hand, the old money aesthetic focuses on well-made, subtle, and timeless items, but with a twist. If you guessed that the twist is attempting to appear affluent, you would be correct. However, it’s not just any money; it’s old money, indicating financial independence that spans multiple generations. Both quiet luxury and old money trends overlap in their emphasis on classic, understated clothing and a preference for no logos. While luxury items are expensive, they can be purchased secondhand. The old money aesthetic does not have to be expensive but aims to recreate a certain look. We’ll delve deeper into the concept of old money later.I have noticed that in some places, “stealth wealth” is grouped into this category. However, I would argue that it is not the same. In my opinion, Warren Buffett is the epitome of stealth … Continue reading
A defining characteristic of quiet luxury is the absence of prominent logos. The focus is on quality, and the price tag is often prohibitively high for most individuals. This upper echelon includes esteemed design houses such as Hermès, Chanel, Loro Piana, Delvaux, Celine, The Row, and Brunello Cucinelli, among others. Not only is the style more subdued, but the cost of entry increases substantially for premium luxury. Louis Vuitton will no longer do. If you do opt for LV, you must steer clear of canvas pieces, particularly the monogram print (logos are considered passé, remember?), and opt for a leather Lockme (retailing at $3,750). This is a steal compared to an Hermès Birkin, which starts at around $10,000. Oh, and you can’t simply walk in and buy a Birkin. You need an established purchase history and a relationship with a sales associate who decides which customers are given the opportunity to spend such a substantial amount on a handbag.
New Money Maximalism
On the opposite end of the spectrum is what has been dubbed “logomania.” Picture the iconic Louis Vuitton LV monogram, Gucci GG, Chanel CC, Fendi Zucca, and Dior Oblique patterns. Now envision being wrapped in these patterns from head to toe. This maximalist aesthetic has become synonymous with “new money” and has been criticized as tacky. Just as quiet luxury is associated with old money, logomania is associated with new money. These two concepts not only differ visually but also in mindset. The former is inconspicuous and subdued, while the latter is bold and flashy. As the saying goes, “Money talks, wealth whispers.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase (and IYKYK), I would be new money by now.
As you can observe, the standard has been raised. Describing anything in luxury as “entry-level” feels icky even to type. But, these are often the terms used in luxury shopping and fashion. With the rising trend of less obvious flexing, if someone is driven to purchase luxury goods in order to conform, they must now set their sights on pricier items. Moreover, all the previously popular “it bags” (often logoed) have been deemed as emblematic of new money, excessive effort, and dreadfully tacky. As a result, some individuals may stow away their monogrammed items at the back of their closets, refraining from wearing something they genuinely enjoy simply because it has become looked down upon.
Why Old Money and Quiet Luxury Now?
Old money and quiet luxury has been a longstanding presence. So, why is it trending now? I highly doubt that many individuals genuinely believe that dressing in a certain way will grant them old money status, as that is simply not possible. However, I do believe that the rise of the old money aesthetic is an unconscious commentary on the increasing financial insecurity caused by economic instability. With the wealth gap widening, some of us may be attempting to avoid peering into the deep chasm by seeking solace in the various fantasies the world of fashion offers. Similar to how cottagecore gained popularity during the pandemic, immersing ourselves in TikTok videos of young women donning simple dresses, and enjoying idyllic picnics amidst blooming flowers in sun-kissed fields provided a much-needed release valve. It served as a distraction from the harsh reality of being confined to a city apartment with one’s entire family during lockdowns. Perhaps indulging in the old money aesthetic offers a semblance of security. After all, these illustrious moneyed families have navigated numerous economic downturns whilst still enjoying the finer things in life.
Luxury shopping holds an allure for several reasons, and one of them is the desire for exclusivity. Interestingly, luxury spending increased during the pandemic. With more people donning designer items, those who seek exclusivity may need to adjust their approach to maintain a sense of possessing something truly rare. One common criticism leveled against the LV monogram print is its ubiquity. This issue is partly attributed to the widespread availability of counterfeit LV bags. A similar trend is emerging with Chanel classic flaps and Birkin bags. I empathize with the feelings of frustration and disillusionment that arise from this situation. Nobody wants others to assume their handbag is counterfeit, especially considering the fact that the sale of these fakes often contributes to organized crime, including human trafficking. These dynamics are likely pushing forward the quiet luxury and old money trends.
Old Money, New Social Media
There appear to be two broad categories of social media content centered around the old money aesthetic, and the discussion can vary across a spectrum between these two categories. The first category, which I will label as lifestyle focused, often places primary emphasis on etiquette and “leveling up” or living in an elevated manner. Naturally, this type of content delves into appearance, typically highlighting traditional style. An example of this is the YouTube series created by Nicole Fiona Davies. She frequently discusses money management from the perspective of someone with generational wealth, highlighting the practice of preserving older, high-quality pieces for future generations instead of constantly replacing them due to changing fashion trends. To Davies and her followers, old money is a mindset that anyone can adopt.
The second category, which I will label as aesthetic focused, offers a lighthearted and enjoyable commentary on fashion. Some might consider this superficial, I don’t perceive this as inherently negative. Different types of content serve different purposes, and it’s essential to dress in a way that makes us feel good. Our clothing choices are a component of “enclothed cognition,” a topic I won’t delve into here but plan to address in a future post. In simple terms, how we dress can have an impact on how we feel. However, it’s worth noting that aesthetic focused content often does not delve into some of the deeper concerns that the old money aesthetic raises which I will touch on next.
All the Hidden ‘isms
While some content creators present the old money aesthetic as merely a fashion preference, a significant portion of the content conveys an implicit message that the old money aesthetic is superior and classist. And to be honest, it’s difficult not to draw that association. My admittedly oversimplified equation is money + superiority = classism. The concept of new money is not a novel one. The first time I encountered this term was when I watched the movie Titanic. In the film, a group of women from old money backgrounds, including a countess, aimed to distance themselves from Molly Brown, who had recently acquired wealth alongside her husband. This depiction in the movie undeniably portrays a heritage of snobbery.Of course, it’s important to note that not everyone classified as “old money” is snobby. In fact, some of these individuals are among the most down-to-earth and generous people you … Continue reading
The most apparent concern is the elevation of the preferences of one subculture, particularly an elitist culture, over others. Old money and quiet luxury are not only associated with wealth but also with WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) culture. Throughout history, the decisions made by individuals in the highest socioeconomic status (SES) within the WASP community have had significant impacts on those in lower SES categories. The worst of these offenses are slavery and forced labor. This power imbalance has allowed those in high SES positions to dictate what is deemed acceptable or not. Some engage in gatekeeping and exclusion, denying access to resources and even exploiting those in lower SES categories to further their own power and privilege. The tastes and preferences of these individuals have become the standard against which everyone else is measured. Consequently, if a modest appearance is valued, anything contrary to that is often seen as gaudy. A recent example of this in popular culture can be seen in a scene from the HBO series Succession, where an old money character shames another character for carrying a “ludicrously capricious” Burberry tote bag (Successioncore is also a microtrend under the old money umbrella). Understandably, some individuals, especially people of color, have raised concerns about embracing the old money trend due to its association with a classist and racist system.
The underlying current of elitism and exclusivity within this trend occasionally becomes explicit. A popular YouTuber, Anna Bey, recently released a video discussing Chanel handbags and questioning if it was “the end” for the design house. She suggests that because everyone on social media is wearing Chanel, these handbags have lost their exclusivity. In the video, she shares vintage photos of women, including Jackie Kennedy, who is old money, wearing the iconic handbag. She then contrasts these photos with those of current celebrities, such as the Kardashians, wearing Chanel. The message is clear, she does not want to be associated with those people. However, I must give Bey credit for challenging some of her subscribers’ biases in a different video, where she included garments from diverse ethnic cultures in her definition of class.I could not track down which video this was to link here. And I agree with her; some of the most poised and confident women I have ever seen were wearing colorful dashikis, kaftans, and saris accentuated with statement jewelry. (* Since posting this blog, Anna Bey released a video with her take on the QL and OM trends.)
You Don’t Know Logomania
When the discussion of logos versus no logos arose in content, I couldn’t shake the unsettling feeling that there might be an underlying element of racism in the backlash against loud luxury. Initially, I questioned whether I was reading too much into it, but over time, I came across TikToks providing examples of old money versus new money styles. All the examples of old money were portrayed by white individuals, while all the examples of new money were exclusively depicted by Black individuals, including a Gucci-clad toddler. Let’s agree as a matter of decorum to leave the commentary on other people’s babies out of this, please. There are numerous instances of white individuals proudly sporting logos, such as Paris Hilton, Gwen Stefani, Liam Payne, Lindsay Lohan, and famously, Billie Eilish. Conversely, there are also many examples of Black individuals embracing quiet luxury, including the Obamas, Thelma Steward, and Hilary Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. However, it’s worth acknowledging that the very roots of logomania can be traced back to Black culture.
Most people are unaware of the origins of logomania. In the 1980s a man known as Dapper Dan created monogram-heavy streetwear. The Father of logomania was described in Forbes Magazine as, “…a symbol of Black entrepreneurship and culture for the fashion world and communities like Harlem.” It’s a peculiar irony that logomania, a style originating from the visionary creativity of a Black man and popularized through Hip Hop culture, was initially silenced by the fashion industry, only to be later embraced and adopted by a wider audience, including the fashion industry itself. Now logomania is being discarded in favor of a WASP aesthetic, which is associated with the oppression of Black people.
I don’t believe that the majority of people who are shifting away from logos are doing so out of racism. Many individuals never had an inclination toward the logo-heavy look, and some have simply grown tired of it. If logos were to completely fall out of favor (although I find that doubtful), it wouldn’t be unique to this trend. Fashion operates in cycles, with styles such as hippy, preppy, mod, unexpectedly Regencycore, and what I call the current era, “Y2K 2.0”, resurfacing over time. However, sometimes trends can hold more depth and significance than what meets the eye initially.
The Other Side of The Stereotype Coin
One observation made by members of the fashion community is that some of the content presents a somewhat caricatured version of old money, relying on stereotypes. On the internet, various suggestions have been circulating on how to dress in an old money style. Alongside the no-logos rule, other guidelines include opting for neutral and monochromatic colors, investing in high-quality pieces, ensuring garments are wrinkle-free, incorporating blazers, cashmere and silk fabrics, sporting tennis skirts, loafers, tweed, draping knitted sweaters over the shoulders, and wearing polos. This list, with minor variations, tends to be reiterated ad nauseam. I heard this trend described once as “cosplaying being rich.” It really makes me wonder what people who are considered old money think of all this
When discussing a large group of people, it’s important to acknowledge the wide variety of differences among individuals that cannot be neatly summarized by a limited list of do’s and don’ts. These differences are likely influenced by factors such as region, interests, and hobbies. Not everyone from old money shares the same preferences, and enjoying activities like tennis or horseback riding does not automatically indicate old money status. Take, for example, Amouranth, a Twitch streamer and millionaire (i.e., new money), who would do anything for her horses. Additionally, the number of generations a family has been wealthy may also influence their preferences and interests.
One distinction can be observed between European and North American families. I specifically contrast with North America because, being from the United States, it is the culture I am most familiar with. When I think of the old money families in Europe, I automatically associate them with the gentry and nobility. On the other hand, when I think of old money Americans, I envision those who accumulated wealth during the Gilded Age, such as the Astors, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts. The Europeans did not consider these American families as their peers at the time but rather viewed them as new money.The Gilded Age was a fascinating time when American heiresses were married off into European lords in exchange of “cash for titles.” These women were dubbed “dollar princesses”.
One impression that aesthetic focused content gives is that old money means owning numerous expensive, designer items.Some who are into the old money aesthetic will shop second-hand or wear clothing that aligns with the above-mentioned list of guidelines, not necessarily spend a lot of money on designer items. While this may hold some truth, it is also important to recognize that thrift and practicality are required even among nobility. After all, maintaining an ancestral castle can be exorbitantly expensive. When it comes to epitomizing old money, The Royal Family comes to mind. It’s worth noting that when I mention “The Royal Family,” most people immediately think of the British monarchy, which is a testament to their effective marketing. However, if we … Continue reading There is an expectation for female members of the family to always have new clothes and gowns for events, which is evident when the media uses the word “recycle” whenever Catherine, Princess of Wales, wears an item more than once. These headlines rather irk me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t wake up in the morning, look in my closet, and think, “Hmm, which shirt should I recycle today?” Furthermore, the late Queen Elizabeth II had a preference for Launer handbags, but she also declined an offer to replace her 25-year-old Barbour jacket and instead requested it to be cleaned and rewaxed so it would remain serviceable for years to come.Our Rainbow Queen by Sali Hughs I also came across an interesting tidbit that King Charles III favored institutional food over fancier cuisine. (If you ever win trivia points for these random facts, you can thank me later.) It is clear that people cannot be neatly categorized into predetermined boxes.
A Word of Caution to Shopping Addicts and Fashion Enthusiasts
Those who have a deep passion for fashion often develop an immense appreciation for luxury, not because they aim to flaunt their wealth, but because of their genuine love for art, design, expression, quality, collecting, and history. They take delight in owning and wearing luxury items. I admire those individuals who possess the confidence to brush off the fashion police when their flashy designer pieces are labeled as gauche. They did not ask for anyone’s opinion, thank you very much. However, this gets to the heart of the problem. Perhaps more than any other trend, this particular one has been used to judge others as less than. Because of the inherent elitism in old money, using it as a measuring stick against others was an inevitable progression. I don’t believe this was the intent. I suspect it likely started as a fun exploration of fashion, possibly evolving from the “leveling up” subculture, which again despite the intention, once this concept became more mainstream it easily slid down the slippery slope to elitism. Based on what I have observed, the majority of those in the leveling up subculture explicitly state that their own pursuit of leveling up is a personal choice based on their values. They discourage … Continue reading
For all you fashionistas out there, it’s important to know how your thinking and spending habits might unconsciously be influenced by the growing prominence of quiet luxury on social media. As I mentioned earlier, the standards have shifted. Your basic bitch LV Neverfull bag won’t make the cut anymore. It’s all about Delvaux, baby! Furthermore, I believe there’s a certain level of justification involved in purchasing more pieces, particularly those that are less obviously luxury. I see this playing out in at least two ways.
The first concern revolves around the idea that wearing overtly expensive clothing may increase the risk of being targeted for theft. I have heard this mentioned when identifying the merits of quiet luxury. This fear might prompt individuals to buy less obviously expensive items that don’t draw as much attention. If you are into luxury and find yourself worried about being mugged, this might just be your sneaky shopping addiction brain persuading you that you need something new that is more “quiet.” This thought might be even more reinforced if you have heard stories of other people being robbed. This recency bias can cause you to overestimate your risk. Ultimately, designer or not, if someone wants your handbag, they want your handbag. Buying a new, low-key one might not protect you that much more.
Another concern raised in social media is the idea that flaunting overtly expensive items during an economic downturn is in bad taste. However, in the same discussions, equally if not more expensive, IYKYK alternatives are being explored. This begs the question: Is the sensitivity toward those experiencing financial hardship simply a justification for purchasing new quiet luxury items? Is it also an excuse to distance oneself from trends that have now been labeled as crass in the name of being socially conscious? If you have shopping addiction behaviors it is up to you to be honest with yourself and notice if your brain is coming up with excuses like these to justify revamping your style to keep up with the evolving trends.
How We Can Become Better Humans from All This
It can be beneficial to examine the strengths as well as the weaknesses of different approaches to life and style. I appreciate the artistry and vibrance that come from forward-thinking designers. Without them, fashion would be extremely dull, in my humble opinion. However, it’s important to acknowledge the costs of a hyper-accelerated fashion industry. Chasing trends can strain personal finances, and it is now widely known that the high turnover of clothes has a devastating impact on our environment.
Part of the appeal of old money and quiet luxury is that, in theory, it slows down the dizzying effects of fast fashion. Adopting a thrifty attitude or choosing high-quality, classic staples can be a more ecological choice. Regardless of whether you dislike it, recognize the injustice of it, or see it as a pro or a con, a conservative and classic style has been established as the standard. The enforced conformity increases one’s chances of upward mobility, particularly in corporate America.
One way out of this old money vs. new money mess is to have respect for each other. Judging others’ fashion choices is pointless and toxic. I don’t believe any culture or style is inherently better than others and for me, this is where things really went off the rails. There is a lot going on under the surface of the old money and quiet luxury trend, which is important to acknowledge especially because of the meaning and impact this has on People of Color. For some, the undercurrents of classism, elitism, and racism will turn them away from, or think twice about this aesthetic. Others will find the lookbook appealing because the style aligns with their tastes and how they already dress.I probably fall more into the classic or old money wardrobe category. But again, this will be addressed in a future, spin-off post. Whatever macro or microtrend you gravitate toward, you do you. And yes, that includes the old money trend (not that you needed anyone’s permission). So, clutch your Gucci Ophidia handbag, wear pearls and neon sneakers, stand out, or blend in, there’s room for all expressions. Just remember, we are all naked underneath our clothes.
|↑1||I worked on this post for a couple of months and debated whether to post it. Despite my intention to write more fashion-oriented content, I haven’t done so yet. Therefore, this is my first post on the subject, and it might stir up some controversy. However, my mind couldn’t let go of this topic, so I ultimately decided to share it. Hopefully, it can initiate some meaningful dialogue.|
|↑2||I have noticed that in some places, “stealth wealth” is grouped into this category. However, I would argue that it is not the same. In my opinion, Warren Buffett is the epitome of stealth wealth. Despite having a net worth of $104 billion (yes, with a “b”), he resides in the same house he bought in 1958 and drives a nearly nine-year-old Cadillac. I think the book, The Millionaire Next Door better exemplifies stealth wealth.|
|↑3||Of course, it’s important to note that not everyone classified as “old money” is snobby. In fact, some of these individuals are among the most down-to-earth and generous people you could ever encounter.|
|↑4||I could not track down which video this was to link here.|
|↑5||I specifically contrast with North America because, being from the United States, it is the culture I am most familiar with.|
|↑6||The Gilded Age was a fascinating time when American heiresses were married off into European lords in exchange of “cash for titles.” These women were dubbed “dollar princesses”.|
|↑7||Some who are into the old money aesthetic will shop second-hand or wear clothing that aligns with the above-mentioned list of guidelines, not necessarily spend a lot of money on designer items.|
|↑8||It’s worth noting that when I mention “The Royal Family,” most people immediately think of the British monarchy, which is a testament to their effective marketing. However, if we consider longevity, the oldest hereditary monarchy is in Japan, and the oldest European hereditary monarchy is in Denmark. I particularly admire Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark’s style.|
|↑9||Our Rainbow Queen by Sali Hughs|
|↑10||Based on what I have observed, the majority of those in the leveling up subculture explicitly state that their own pursuit of leveling up is a personal choice based on their values. They discourage judging others who may have different values and priorities.|
|↑11||I probably fall more into the classic or old money wardrobe category. But again, this will be addressed in a future, spin-off post.|