“I wish you well.”
Gwyneth Paltrow may have gotten the final say in her ski accident trial in March, but it was her head-to-toe “old money” style that reverberated across society.
The “quiet luxury” style has swiftly caught on, helped along by the affluent society shown in HBO’s “Succession” and Kim Kardashian’s monochromatic mega home, even though most Americans now live money to paycheck.
What exactly is silent luxury?
Quiet luxury, also known as stealth wealth, is distinguished by “the complete lack of logos and anything too conspicuous,” according to Thoma Serdari, professor of marketing and head of the fashion and luxury program at NYU’s Stern School of Business.
“Luxury brands rely on the quality of the materials, and they have techniques that are very specific to them,” she explained, referring to nuances like the cut, stitching, or other minor elements that are only visible to people who are intimately familiar with a particular item. “That becomes a differentiator for those who are in the know,” Serdari explained.
Paltrow donned Celine and The Row in her daily court appearances, as well as $1,450 black Prada boots and a $325 Smythson notepad in the company’s distinctive blue.
“We have access to these semi-private moments, and we want to replicate their style,” Serdari explained.
Of course, understated elegance isn’t a new concept.
Following the financial crisis, “people who had money wanted to be a little bit more subdued,” according to Serdari. Fashion has grown larger and bolder in the decade and a half afterward, she says.
The stealth-wealth approach has now been revitalized as Americans’ economic situations become further split following the so-called K-shaped recovery, which has left the wealthiest Americans even better off than before.
This one-time method can help you avoid IRS tax penalties. ‘It’s like a get out of jail free pass,’ says one expert.
Despite the higher price tag, there’s an even more subdued undertone this time.
One of the main characters on “Succession” even mocks a tartan Burberry tote bag that costs $2,890, calling it “ludicrously capacious.”
How to Achieve a Stealth-Wealthy Look for Less
Can the average American afford a $600 Loro Piana cashmere baseball cap, such as the one seen in “Succession”? “I really doubt it,” Zardari stated.
Fortunately, the quiet luxury trend is more about duplicating the appearance with garments that fit well, in neutral tones or monochromatic, she added.
Carolyn McClanahan, a certified financial planner and the founder of Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida, recommends buying a few signature staples, such as a coat or handbag, on sale or from a local consignment store and pairing them with less-expensive jeans and T-shirts from Target or Walmart, as Roman Roy did in the final season of “Succession.”
This style of quiet luxury, free of major brands and logos, is “overdue,” according to McClanahan, who also serves on CNBC’s Advisor Council.
As the economy slows and chronic inflation leaves many Americans feeling overburdened, it’s time to abandon the “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude.
“Find quality things that will last a lot longer — that’s better than throwaway pieces,” McClanahan said.