Stealth wealth is a way of dressing that allows the wearer to maintain privacy in regard to their economic and social status. Stealth wealth brands often overlap with quiet luxury, considered an unassuming style philosophy that has become a signifier of the one percent. For hundreds of years, the middle class has been emulating the rich and powerful through their clothing choices. Something the upper class detested to the extent that laws were even put in place that dictated what colors and fabric people of certain ranks were allowed to wear, thereby ensuring that a princess would never be confused for a peasant or vice versa. We have come a long way since then. From the 20th century onwards, we have seen various styles of uber-rich become mainstream trends, like the Ivy League look in the 1950s, pastel preppy style in the 1980s, the old money aesthetic throughout the 2010s, and most recently, quiet luxury and stealth wealth.
Quiet Luxury Brands
It would be fair to say that the following are some of the most recognized and currently influential quiet luxury brands: The Row, Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander, Toteme, and Max Mara, Khaite, and of course Hermès.
If you are frequently on the internet, then you’ve no doubt been on the receiving end of countless videos and articles about stealth wealth and quiet luxury, which have been declared the most prominent aesthetics of 2023. There are a variety of factors that could have led to the popularity of the quiet luxury look. With the 2000s comeback in fashion, many motifs that are commonly associated with the new money look, such as maximalism, logos, and bright colors, have come back into style recently. Simplicity was seen as a rejection of this mainstream middle-class movement. There has also been a rise in media that revolve around the one percent, like White Lotus, Billions, Gossip Girl, Bling Empire, and Succession, making them a novelty. Because clothing can be a form of escapism, many have attempted to recreate these quiet luxury looks at home. Working off the idea that dressing like a wealthy might make one feel better about their economic status. With the economy predicted to decrease in the following years, public figures will all begin to dress in understated styles in an attempt to lessen criticism directed towards them, as seen with the disappearance of necklaces on red carpets.
Stealth Wealth Brands
Although stealth wealth fashion and quiet luxury are used synonymously online, these two concepts are not the same. Stealth wealth style is less of a fashion aesthetic and more of a psychological strategy, with the wearer’s simple clothing being an attempt to seem relatable, unassuming, and, most importantly, not exorbitantly wealthy. Some of the richest people in the world dress very modestly to draw attention away from their financial standpoint and instead shift the focus to their businesses. This carefully contrived aspect of their public image is essentially a way of avoiding a repeat of the French Revolution. In other words, stealth wealth has little to do with wearing specific brands, colors, or silhouettes; it is more about discretion.
Quiet luxury is what people are referring to when they talk about well-tailored yet simple styles of clothing. Quiet luxury has been slowly rising in popularity since Spring 2022. In large because of the resurgence of the old money aesthetic online. The old money movement’s internet presence skyrocketed in March 2023, following the season 4 premiere of Succession, which centers around a billionaire family fighting for control of their massive company.
The 1980s was a period of prosperity in the United States, leading to increased disposable income and the rise of young urban professionals. Both men and women became more comfortable flaunting their wealth, resulting in fashion growing increasingly bright and bold. While Jackie Kennedy had been the poster girl for wealthy women in the 1960s with her Lily Pulitzer dresses and Chanel suits, in the 80s, some fresh faces came onto the scene, including Princess Diana and Brooke Shields, who made preppy style feel attainable while still being prim and proper. Brands like Ralph Lauren and Perry Ellis embrace the preppy trend to the point that they’re still associated with it today.
Celebrities who started the Quiet Luxury trend
In contrast to the loud decade before it, the 90s was all about minimalism. On one end of the less is more fashion spectrum was grunge, a counterculture movement some described as slacker style thanks to its incredibly laid-back nature. The rich look of the 90s was far more polished, featuring impeccable tailoring using elements like tweed and pearls with a minimal color palette and sleek silhouettes. You can see the style worn by Gwyneth Paltrow, Carolyn Bessette, Julia Roberts, and Kate Moss. This style would eventually be considered a predecessor to today’s quiet luxury.
In the 2000s, the pendulum swung the other way, with fashion becoming more ostentatious than we had seen in decades. The rich and famous shamelessly flaunted their wealth in the form of giant logos and monograms. Films like Legally Blonde, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, and Mean Girls feature characters who are purposely dressed in this manner to signify their new money status; this led to the popularization of the Burberry check, which was so widely counterfeited that the brand’s previously posh clientele abandoned them. In 2008, this style came to a screeching halt following the economic recession, with fashion becoming minimalist once again.
Quiet Luxury Style Shoes
The difference between Old Money and Quiet Luxury style trends
In the digital age, clothing has become even more of a status symbol. The desire to encapsulate someone wealthy and successful led to the rise of the old money aesthetic in the 2010s, which took its inspiration from those who had generational wealth. Although many assume these two trending fashion styles are the same, quiet luxury and old money styles are actually very different. The old money aesthetic is a reference to the preppy aesthetic. Quiet luxury, on the other hand, is more about looking polished and professional with tailored jackets, starched blouses, and appropriate pumps. This type of workwear look gives the style of a domineering edge, and it could almost be interpreted as a 21st-century take on 80s power dressing. Some critics refer to this style as snobby and old-fashioned. However, it is sort of the point of the style; they are not trying to hop on the latest trends to appear fashionable. Unlike the newly rich who refuse to wear the same thing twice, quiet luxury is all about quality over quantity, and they care very little about re-wearing items. Some defining brands notorious for encapsulating this style are The Row, Brunello Cuciccinelli, and Ralph Lauren. These brands focus on investment pieces and timeless staples. Some people have expressed their complaints over these brands being costly, but these pieces are meant to be worn for years and years, ensuring that you get your money’s worth. Whether you like it or not, the quiet luxury has made its mark, and it is here to stay.