If you’ve heard the term “dressing rich” over the past several months, you might be attuned to the current consumer desire for status—or at least the appearance of such.
In February of this year, The New York Times published “What Does It Mean to Dress Rich?” after varied looks of luxury on New York Fashion Week runways offered commentary on the new ways to signal one’s wealth. The designers mentioned in the article all had individual approaches to showcasing the concept—luxurious fabrics, decadent details, confidence, a reserved elegance—but a common idea: You know it when you see it.
And so we encounter the trend of “quiet luxury,” an art of dressing to convey one’s status in subtle, natural ways.
Dressing to show wealth doesn’t mean wearing logo-heavy accessories and attire; these can, and are often, counterfeited. Instead, it refers to carrying an air of elegance that can only be achieved courtesy of custom suits, couture, and the swagger of being born into money. Those on this level aren’t concerned with showing off their status because it’s so ingrained in who they are—it’s simply a given. And this is generational wealth we’re talking, the kind exhibited on hot shows like Succession (one of the sources responsible for spurring this trend) and The White Lotus.
Most consumers are not and never will be familiar with this level of wealth, but that won’t stop them from wanting to dress the part. For fashion, this means logos are out, sensuous materials and well-made pieces are in. Monochrome dressing is a major element, as are well-tailored pieces and crisp, ironed shirts.
Jewelry is another matter altogether: Those seeking style of the überwealthy needn’t spend a fortune to achieve it. Certainly a high-carat diamond engagement ring—worn with an air of “this old thing?”—would be de rigueur in a well-to-do family, and vintage heirloom pieces that appear to have been passed down through generously funded generations make sense too. But remember: The trend isn’t about showing off one’s wealth, it’s more about existing in a state of it—where one only ever knows things of the highest quality, no matter the size or stature. The rings, necklaces, and other jewelry pictured here are tastefully understated pieces to wear forever.
Stellene Volandes wrote an article for Town & Country in 2019 that was ahead of the game on this trend. “Why the Jewelry on Succession Is So Damn Low-Key” details the discreet styles worn by the Roy family, and why, according to the show’s costume designer, this is purposeful. It’s a great read if you’re interested in the thought process behind the characters’ jewels. (I am regrettably out of the loop on Succession, though it remains on the list of things I may never get to but want to see.)
While many of 2023’s trends exist purely for maximalist reasons—both in the name of self-expression and the desire to be seen—quiet luxury skews the other way. Those favoring the trend want to be noticed, but not for their flash. It’s all about an eye for quality. In that vein, well-made jewels that are built to endure lifetimes of wear will appeal to a new market this year, consumers seeking ways to attain that effortless vibe of one-percenters.