The old money aesthetic has blown up on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram in recent times. It alludes to the clothing style of those born into generational wealth. There’s a certain charm to the understated elegance of traditional styles in an era where prevailing designer and fast fashion is often flashy, tasteless or brand orientated.
So, what’s the growing appeal of the old money aesthetic and why should you care?
Old money vs new money
There’s never been a more lucrative time for the average joe to become wealthy. Surveys have found that anywhere between 27-94% of millionaires are self-made, which isn’t so surprising with the internet opening up endless possibilities to anyone with a connection. This flow of ‘new money’ created a new breed of ‘rich’ in a short space of time. They’re the first generation in their family to have an abundance of money. Growing up they likely had to deal with wanting things they couldn’t have and worked hard to change their circumstances. As a result, ‘new money’ folk tend to flaunt their wealth as a badge of honour to celebrate their success. Social media amplifies this desire to showcase glamorous lifestyles to gain more followers and, more importantly, social status. Luxury brands have taken full advantage of this by marketing products that average people can wear for attention and appearing wealthy. A focus on quality and good fashion sense has taken a backseat in the competition to look successful and mimic celebrities.
The script is usually flipped with ‘old money’. They are born into their family’s fortune and experience a taste of luxury throughout childhood. Residing in wealthy neighbourhoods with private education, showcasing wealth isn’t as important as the status of family and occupying the right social circles. Because their privileges come from a lineage, they are more inclined to uphold the values taught to them, including to look and act presentable. It’s common for these families to have financial stakes in very profitable, but sometimes exploitative, industries such as banking and finance, oil and gas, manufacturing, real estate, and healthcare. They like to look respectable but don’t want to draw unwanted attention from the general public, who can pose a security threat. So, old money aesthetics tend to be classy but understated with neutral colours such as white, beige and navy. White is particularly popular with its connection to upmarket sports like tennis and cricket, and as a symbol of cleanliness.
That isn’t to say new money or old money is better. These are just generalisations. Some modern aesthetics can come off as overcompensating and validation seeking but a classic look may appear pretentious to some. A modern interpretation on the old money aesthetic is one of many looks to try if casual elegance is your cup of tea.
Why is the old money aesthetic so appealing?
Quiet luxury – Much of the clothing focuses on quality and fit without being obnoxious. The ability to look stylish, sophisticated and lavish without relying on bold colours and designer labels is a statement of humility.
Nostalgic – Trends come and go but the old money aesthetic feels timeless. It carries a touch of class that you see within the intricacies of traditional architecture and paintings. But also the simplicity and romance of a more care-free time. It represents an alternative ideal to modern lifestyle and values.
Status – Your clothes don’t define you but different groups of people in society lean towards their own style. And that’s the perception you project to the world. This aesthetic exudes unspoken wealth. It could spruce you up for business deals or help to attract people into your life who share similar interests, values and ambitions.
How women look old money
Buttoned black or navy power tops with touches of gold work well with jewellery to give a sophisticated look.
The classic sweater knot around the neck is the unique stamp of an old money look along with whites and off whites with leather accessories.
Loose shirts and blazers, preppy styles, tennis skirts and polos give women a variety of classic options.
How men look old money
Cashmere or merino wool zip neck jumpers and cardigans represent a staple look for old money men. Trainers tend to be white and flat.
Old money boys love striped shirts, especially in blue and white.
Loose shirts with two open buttons and linen trousers give off a sleek, relaxed vibe. Wear a plain blazer, chinos and loafer shoes for a smarter business look.
Cricket whites are a pretty exclusive old money look. Chino shorts and folded up smart trousers complement your fits nicely.