Maximalism is out, and minimalism is back in. With the increasing popularity of the quiet luxury aesthetic, is the subdued yet expensive style really capable of going mainstream?
Composed of muted and neutral colors like beige and white and outfit staples like turtlenecks, plain trousers, and coats, quiet luxury is often described as a timeless style, meant to be one you can always wear no matter the seasonal trend. No bright colors, patterns, or obvious brand logos allowed—the focus is simplicity and clothing that can be mixed, matched, and worn for years to come. Its appeal is also its sustainability: by ignoring current fashion crazes that may be out of style within a matter of months, fans of quiet luxury can stick to buying a few high-quality pieces rather than filling their closets with things they may never wear again.
But the “quiet” part of quiet luxury is not really what made the style’s popularity explode: it’s the association with wealth—specifically, generational wealth.
“Money talks, wealth whispers” is a common phrase thrown around to create a distinction between those who have recently become rich and those who have been so for a long time. Quiet luxury is an example of that whisper: instead of buying designer clothes with logos prominently displayed like people with “new money” might, those with “old money” will instead spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on clothes you might not even be able to differentiate from a Target t-shirt at first glance. It’s the difference between being so rich that you want to show it off and being so rich that you feel no need to show it off. The former is apparently attention-seeking and loud, while the latter is mature and classy—something to aspire to.
This supposedly quiet trend has recently gained popularity on social media, and it’s not surprising to see people focus on the ultra-rich and what they choose to wear. As more celebrities seem to be shifting from extravagant logomania to equally expensive but simpler styles, more fans want to hop onto the trend. But therein lies the problem—quiet luxury is not an aesthetic everyone can achieve.
The minimalist look is something that can be emulated fairly easily, but the core of quiet luxury is its luxury. You may have the classic coat and the timeless trousers, but if your loafers didn’t cost you hundreds of dollars, are you really dressing like quiet luxury? Did the old money, uber-rich celebrities that made the style popular ever want you to?
Of course, it’s great to like the style and even want to incorporate it into your own wardrobe. But with trends like this, it’s important to consider what is actually being admired because it’s not always just the clothes.