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Fashion trends take a lot of work to pin down. They are rarely consistently cyclical despite decade-related trends randomly coming out of the woodwork. It isn’t easy to discern why they became popular in the first place. Sometimes it’s social media. Other times, it’s what celebrities wear. Even rarer times, it is a strange, collective wave of nostalgia.
To top it all off, fashion weeks, for some reason, always feel like a surprise, making viewers question, “What is going on in the designer’s head?” Quiet luxury is the most recent talked-up fashion trend, but is the hype antithetical to its aesthetic?
What Is Quiet Luxury?
Quiet luxury is a clothing trend emerging in 2023. Let’s understand it by breaking it into essential parts because some terms have contextual meanings in fashion discourse. “Luxury” represents clothing that:
- Has a high price tag.
- Is made with high-quality and expensive materials.
- Has limited quantities or limited edition distribution models.
- Keeps a committed buyer base.
- Thinks to the future of fashion.
- Treats their brand like a lifestyle.
- Inspires upcoming fashion trends.
When people put the word “quiet” with luxury, it might already have some connotations. Some might think of minimalist fashion’s sharp cleanness or the polished lines of cinched, chic silhouettes. A more accurate descriptor for what quiet means here is what the industry is calling “elevated basics.”
That means a plain white tee, bootcut jeans and a simple black handbag are recast with higher-grade materials at Balenciaga prices. It is a nice, refreshing change of pace compared to louder fashion trends like blinged-out everything, peplum skirts, fringe or animal prints.
What Made Quiet Luxury a Thing?
Fashion trends are impossible to keep up with. One minute, there is avant-garde, and the next a long-forgotten decade is walking tomorrow’s New York Fashion Week. It is inconsistent, though fashion experts attempt to predict what will come to the limelight based on social habits, popular culture and good ole sales analytics from worldwide brands.
HBO’s popular show “Succession” is becoming synonymous with the quiet luxury aesthetic. Commentators contrast the effortless business attire in the show with TikTok’s recent obsession with old-money fashion. “Succession” and old-money fashion are different because the characters do not self-promote their class.
When it comes to quiet luxury, less is more. The Roy family featured in the show is in a league where they don’t have to explain their fashion or standing because it is the pinnacle of quiet luxury. This is also called “stealth wealth” in modern culture.
Another strange yet pivotal cultural incident was Gwenyth Paltrow’s 2023 court case. Despite the case being about an optometrist harmed in a skiing incident, the internet was not interested. Instead, people focused on making the civil court case a meme and gawking over Paltrow’s astonishing fashion choices during the trial. Naturally, it was quiet luxury at its finest. In a photo, she hid her face with a notebook worth €299. It might be stationery, but the aesthetic was still there.
What Are Some Quiet Luxury Staples and Notable Brands?
Now that you understand the rise of quiet luxury and what it means, let’s uncover some of the staples. Quiet luxury is just a series of elevated basics, after all. So, what quietly luxurious pieces could you add to your wardrobe to start crafting the aesthetic and evoke a particularly sophisticated lifestyle?
- Clean-lined skirts
- Cinched blazers
- Well-cut jeans
- Sweaters, tees and tanks in neutral colors
- Tailored trousers
- Timeless shoes like loafers
- Discreet bags
- Elegant sunglasses
- Subtle layering pieces like cardigans
- Statement jackets, like peacoats or trenches
Focus on pieces without garish prints, unnecessary frills or erratic seams. The articles should only make you stand out in a crowd if people are amazed at how fashionable you look. Quiet luxury pieces are in neutral colors, like white, gray, black, dark brown or khaki. Typically, they do not brandish logos like traditional luxury staples. Everyone knows the famous Chanel logo all over bags and phone cases. Quiet luxury focuses on simple, patternless color palettes.
These are the most well-known brands to start searching for your starter items. Some are even featured on the coveted “Succession” show:
- The Row
- Ralph Lauren
- Loro Piana
- Brunello Cucinelli
- Bite Studios
- Malene Birger
- Gabriela Hearst
- Max Mara
Unfortunately, quiet luxury is what it says. So, expect higher-than-typical prices when browsing their websites.
How Do You Achieve Quiet Luxury on a Budget?
It is possible to exude quiet luxury without spending the money on it. Besides, why should fashion be excluded from certain income levels? All you have to do is ensure you buy from a sustainable brand that focuses on quality materials for a more acceptable price range, and you’re golden. Here are a few ways to do that.
Secondhand stores are goldmines for unwanted basics. You might find actual luxury brands if you look hard enough. Stock up on basic sweaters and accessories for far less than what brands are asking for.
The trend embraces a few foundational words. If you have these in your back pocket, you will be able to evaluate any piece to see if it falls under the quiet luxury umbrella, such as:
Make an Inspiration Board
You’re probably just as obsessed with Pinterest as the rest of the world when it comes to feeling creatively inspired. Create a board of looks you admire in the quiet luxury landscape. Pull that out whenever you’re at a less-pricey clothing store or browsing online. It will make it easier to notice the influences of quiet luxury even in more accessibly priced fashion retailers. Using it as a constant reference will help your looks stay consistent.
Is Quiet Luxury Here to Stay?
Quiet luxury is just a trend, as all styles are. It is more exclusive in price, but it does not mean you can’t enjoy the sleek lines and crisp colors. Are you going to try out the style, or is this one worth skipping because it will quickly get replaced with something more exciting?
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