The allure of “old money” is not just about wealth accumulated over generations, but also the culture, values, and, notably, the fashion that comes with it. This term, often associated with families whose fortunes have been established for generations, has a distinct style that speaks of tradition, class, and a deep appreciation for the finer things in life. Unlike the flashy displays often associated with “new money,” old money exudes a quiet confidence, a legacy. This legacy is most evident in the fashion choices of those who belong to this echelon. Through this guide, we aim to unravel the mystique of old money outfits, offering insights into its timeless appeal and guiding you on how to master this evergreen style.
Defining Characteristics of Old Money Outfits
Subtle Luxury: The essence of old money fashion lies in its subtlety. It’s not about being the loudest in the room but the most refined. The garments are often made from high-quality materials like cashmere, silk, and fine wool, emphasizing comfort and longevity over fleeting trends.
Neutral Color Palettes: The choice of colors often mirrors the values of discretion and elegance. Earth tones, navy, whites, and the occasional pastel dominate this palette, making it easy to mix and match pieces.
Classic Patterns: Patterns, when present, are never overwhelming. Stripes, plaids, and herringbone are staples, often found in accessories like scarves, ties, and even socks. These patterns have historical significance, often rooted in European aristocracy and elite clubs.
Tailored Fits: Nothing speaks more of personal attention than tailored clothing. Old money outfits prioritize fit, ensuring that each garment drapes perfectly, highlighting the wearer’s best features while ensuring comfort.
Key Pieces in an Old Money Wardrobe
The Crisp White Shirt: Beyond its versatility, the white shirt is a symbol of cleanliness, simplicity, and attention to detail. Whether it’s a casual linen version for summer days or a silk-blend for formal events, it’s a staple that speaks volumes.
Tailored Blazers and Trousers: These are not just any off-the-rack pieces. They’re often bespoke, made to fit the individual’s measurements perfectly. The blazers might have subtle details like gold or mother-of-pearl buttons, while trousers maintain a perfect break at the shoes.
Timeless Accessories: Accessories in the old money wardrobe are often heirlooms passed down through generations. Leather belts with minimalistic buckles, pearl necklaces that have adorned the necks of grandmothers and mothers, brooches with family insignias, and cufflinks made of precious metals and stones.
Classic Footwear: Footwear is another area where quality trumps quantity. A well-made pair of loafers can last decades, especially if they’re cared for properly. Similarly, ballet flats made of genuine leather, and leather boots, preferably hand-stitched, are essentials.
Outerwear: Think trench coats, cashmere scarves, and woolen overcoats. These pieces are not just functional, protecting one from the elements, but also add a layer of sophistication to any outfit.
Incorporating Modern Trends with Old Money Aesthetics
While the old money aesthetic is deeply rooted in tradition, it doesn’t mean it’s resistant to change or modern influences. In fact, the true essence of this style lies in its adaptability and timeless foundation that can seamlessly integrate contemporary trends.
Balancing Act: The key is to strike a balance. For instance, while high-waisted palazzo pants might be a modern trend, they can be paired with a classic silk blouse and pearls, creating a harmonious blend of old and new.
Sustainable Fashion: The modern world is becoming increasingly conscious of sustainability, and this aligns perfectly with old money values that prioritize quality and longevity. Brands that focus on ethical production, organic materials, and timeless designs, like Eileen Fisher or Patagonia, resonate with both the old money aesthetic and modern sensibilities.
Tech Meets Tradition: Modern fabrics that offer comfort, like moisture-wicking materials or those that provide UV protection, can be incorporated into classic designs, offering the best of both worlds.
Styling Tips for Achieving the Old Money Look
Layering Mastery: Layering is an art. Think of a cashmere cardigan over a satin camisole, topped with a tailored blazer. This not only adds depth to the outfit but also allows for adaptability to different settings and temperatures.
Accessorizing with Intent: Every accessory should have a purpose. A silk scarf can add a pop of color, a brooch can be a conversation starter, and a classic watch not only tells time but also speaks of one’s appreciation for craftsmanship.
Hair and Makeup: The old money look extends beyond clothing. Hair should be neat, whether it’s worn loose or in an updo. Makeup should be understated, emphasizing natural beauty. Think neutral eyeshadows, a hint of blush, and a soft lip color.
Attention to Detail: Small details, like ensuring your shoes are polished, seams are straight, and clothes are lint-free, make a significant difference. It’s these nuances that elevate the overall look.
Old Money Outfits Across the Globe
While the principles of old money fashion remain consistent, regional variations add a rich tapestry of diversity to this style.
European Aristocracy: European old money fashion is deeply influenced by its rich history. In France, it’s about effortless elegance with brands like Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. In contrast, the British aristocracy leans towards structured designs, with brands like Barbour and Mulberry.
American Old Money: The American version is influenced by its collegiate past. Think Ivy League style with tweed jackets, polo shirts, and brands like Tommy Hilfiger and J.Crew.
Asian Old Money Fashion: Asia’s interpretation is a beautiful blend of tradition and luxury. In Japan, it might be a modern kimono-inspired dress paired with designer accessories. In India, it could be a handwoven saree with a diamond brooch.
The old money aesthetic is more than just a fashion statement; it’s a lifestyle, a mindset. It speaks of a deep appreciation for quality, tradition, and the finer things in life. While it draws from the past, it is not confined by it. By understanding its core principles and adapting them to the modern world, one can achieve a style that is both timeless and contemporary. It’s about creating a legacy, one outfit at a time.