As a former trend forecaster, my Spidey senses increase as pop culture patterns emerge. And I love when something opposite of a trend becomes a trend. You’ve undoubtedly been watching the powerhouse show Succession, loosely Murdochian and less loosely a Machiavellian take on extreme generational wealth. In addition to its fantastic dialogue and stellar knack for curse words done right, many are also talking about the wardrobe with almost obsessive dissection. Welcome to the world of stealth wealth, a subtle approach to the high end that is anything but trendy but making a big old hashtag splash.
Think Loro Piana. Brunello Cucinelli. Max Mara. And other fairly nondescript but super expensive labels that are worlds apart from the sort of “Guccification” of culture we’ve all seen in recent years. This is dopamine dressing for Davos, and it’s of a very different ilk. Although I could never afford to dress this way, I feel that the new “stealth wealth” look takes inspiration from a preppy POV but is quiet, elegant, generally well-cut, and casual. These are clothes for those with FU money, and I love them because guess what? Our crowd can get inspired and find many ideas with an ageless sentiment. No trends. No logos. Nothing too vulgar or tight (though Shiv sometimes seems to be smothered by her figure-hugging looks; though I’m sure that’s intentional to reflect her uncomfortable situation as the sole female potential heir to the throne).
You’ll also note the recent Gwyneth Paltrow court appearance, where her low-key luxe vibe was all over the news as much as her bone broth diet.
Vogue also recently wrote about how this look is happening in the home. It is tasteful, sexy in its solitude, and classic without being stuffy or fuddy-duddy, and it’s refined as it gets.
Your color palette for this look will be black, navy, grey, and beige. Your watch? Swiss. And you will most likely dress monochromatically; a universally flattering look on all figures and age groups. Nothing slims like tonal dressing head to toe. A now not-so-secret weapon, but now you know. Think classic silhouettes and a subtlety that whispers power. Call this all a backlash to Instagram culture or, as Erik Maza, the executive style director of Town & Country, puts it, “Logomania is the wardrobe equivalent of a thirst trap. It’s desperate for attention.”
Or perhaps it’s a reaction to this conspicuous consumerism, our post-pandemic adherence to casualism, and desires to downplay the bling empire. I remember experiencing people with real money in New York, and I admired the downplaying of ducats. I prefer money that whispers vs money that shouts. See my last piece on Miami.
Recently, I was in Los Angeles and found myself in stealth-wealth temple The Row, whose Melrose Place store is like porn for those who admire a minimal and absurdly expensive aesthetic. Amidst a contemplation pool, there are racks of monochromatic magic. Bags with no hardware. Slippers of shoes that can tread quietly across French parquet floors. It was a beautiful sight to behold, albeit challenging based on my current life situation. Those Olsen sisters know how to keep it simple and beyond chic.
Pieces Inspired by Stealth Wealth
Here are some pieces that embody and are inspired by stealth wealth, most with a better price point. Think less is more, and quite literally.
Signature specs. I just had to include these specs worn by Kendall Roy, son of the Succession patriarch, on the show. These are a lot like his and will cost you a whopping $795. Precision with a side of personality comes at a high price.
The khaki trouser. A good pair of khakis is worth their weight, and these from Madewell are great looking and priced for mere mortals.
The cozy turtleneck. Though it may be warm outside, you may want to make like Gwyneth and swaddle yourself in a bone broth-hued turtleneck. This one from Everlane is on sale and nice.
The summer shirt dress. This classic from J.Crew looks amazing with flat sandals and a cardigan with a heel for dinner at the Polo Lounge. Mazel, if you can snag a res, ps.
A simple and sensible shoe. A classic ballet flat is the best, and these from Ballerette do the trick and won’t break the bank.
A classic bag. A good pebble-leather tote will take you everywhere. I love this caramel/tan take from Cuyana. No bells, no whistles, just a solid bag. If you get a super-friendly tax refund, go for this super splurge from The Row.
The LBD. A black midi dress is essential. This one from COS will go everywhere and is timeless, ageless and, most of all, effortless.
Easy earrings. Behold the simple gold hoop. These are a staple for any look and quickly go from day to night, and are trend transcendent.
A timeless bathing suit. An LBS (little black suit) is perfect and must be a one-piece like this one. Throw a skirt over it in the summer and you are good to give your time off the beach a little boost.
According to fashion consultant Carolyn Mair, stealth-wealth dressing has a bit of a secret society, “if you know, you know” vibe. Just ask the men of the Upper East Side who on any given day are wearing a plain black baseball hat like this one that speaks volumes but so very quietly. But if you’re super rich and hate this POV, may I suggest what Vogue has coined “kooky luxury?” Whether you’re more Shiv Roy or Schiaparelli, one thing’s for sure: both looks exude confidence and great style; two things I can get behind as I ponder a wardrobe with ageless appeal and timeless “wear with all.”