How to Achieve the Quiet Luxury Look On a Budget
A guide to faking stealth wealth style on a non-billionaire income.
This article was originally published on April 12, 2023 and has been updated.
Succession characters wear exclusively discreetly exorbitant clothes. Gwyneth Paltrow’s skiing accident courtroom fiasco doubled as a master class in stealth wealth. Recent runways have been leaning further into refined minimalism. Practical and sensible, yet painfully expensive, quiet luxury is bare-bones dressing void of labels and flashy embellishments. The antithesis of Barbiecore’s audacious oeuvre — it’s muted, toned-down, and always low-key. In this dimension, a $2,890 USD Burberry check carrier is profane. But a logo-less Celine leather tote? Pure class, baby!
Thing is, when you’re that well off, you don’t really want to draw attention to your wealth. At the core of quiet luxury is a sartorial language that only those in the know can speak; a way for the ultra-rich to separate themselves from the gaudy nouveau riche, and, of course, all us other plebeians. But why not beat the billionaires at their own game? Confuse them with a sea of minimalist ensembles and luxe anonymity! These days, emulating an Olsen twin is more in vogue than ever.
“quiet luxury” isn’t a new concept and in the last 2 decades no one’s captured it better than these two. pic.twitter.com/coIjYCUMCz
— chiaara 💒 (@churchofysl) April 11, 2023
For those of us who don’t have north of $800 to spend on a baseball cap, performing stealth wealth is actually quite achievable. Embedded in this laid-back look is a “buy less, buy better” ethos, revolving around investing in capsule pieces that can be maintained sans constant closet overhauls. The viral quiet luxury style, as exclusive as it sounds, is actually about democratizing unattainable pillars of a wealthy lifestyle. Obviously, no one should feel like they have to pretend to be rich, but it’s admittedly fun to cosplay as a covert nepo baby. Not to mention, it’s pretty easy!
Rule number one: you must always look comfortable. Think matching knitted sets, cozy cardigans, and breezy slacks. Key to embodying this moneyed minimalism is opting for earth tones and basic silhouettes without statement details from quiet luxury brands. Luckily, plenty of affordable retailers specialize in just that. Why pay $1,240 for a short-sleeve button-down from The Row when you can get a near-identical piece from COS for a sliver of the price? Other widely available staples include a neutral trench, a crisp tee, tailored pants, and a versatile — read: muted — bag. Footwear should be equally unremarkable. No big Big Red Boots here! We’re talking flats, Mary Janes, Chelsea boots and kitten-heel slingbacks. Jewellery can be subtle studs, a sleek timepiece, or better yet, none at all.
Wealth and fashion have always been inherently intertwined. Above all, sporting the quiet luxury aesthetic implies being generally at peace with things. You’re not stressing about the humdrum of everyday life — like, say, what you’re going to wear. Instead, you emit an air of nonchalance, communicating that you are perpetually relaxed. This is a privilege that not everyone has. But we can certainly dress like we do.
Looking to build your own quiet luxury wardrobe on a budget? Read on for our top picks from quiet luxury brands that won’t break the bank.
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