The Loud Privilege Of Quiet Luxury

The Loud Privilege Of Quiet Luxury

By: Justice Seay

November 15, 2023

Social media’s new It Girl wears ill-fitting jeans and a white t-shirt from the boy’s section. Her favorite shoes are frayed at the seams and look as though they’re covered in a layer of dirt. Her inconspicuous purse is crumpled and worn around the edges. 

Her outfit costs more than your annual rent and is being praised as this season’s must-follow trend by Vogue.

For society’s A-listers and one-percenters, gone are the days of designer printed tracksuits and “ludicrously capacious” handbags. Now, celebrities want to dress like normal people. Or at least, what they perceive as normal.

In reality, the closest these celebrities comfortably reach “normal” are pre-dirtied Golden Gooses—Geese?—and exorbitantly priced basic tees that allow an “I’m just like you” guise while still maintaining a level of unattainability that defines pop culture’s social hierarchy.

So why is the new celebrity craze built around clothes that look like they could have come from the depths of our own closets? The answer is in the name of the trend.

Quiet Luxury is a trend created by the rich and for the rich. By wearing garments that pose as normal, but outweigh our clothes in both quality and price, the trend indirectly satirizes the dress of the average person.

Those with enough money to recognize the hallmarks of designer items view the trend as an exemplification of the minimalism and faux humbleness that define this decade’s Cool Girl Aesthetic.

Others who see these Pinterest-trending ensembles, but aren’t equipped with a fashion-keen eye, assume that celebrity style has finally become adaptable for the average person. Rushing to their nearest mall or mass ordering hauls of clothes from online retailers, they copy the latest paparazzied outfit of Bella Hadid’s or Sofia Richie’s in item-for-item dupes.

As fans, however, we’ll never be able to truly emulate the Quiet Luxury of the elite. No matter how much money we spend or how similar looking our dupes are, we’re still missing a key element of the style: status. 

The effect of a supermodel in civilian clothes makes a statement. It says, “I reject my privilege. I don’t need expensive things to be cool. (Yes, my bag is Hermes, thank you for noticing.)”

When we wear these basic—and a bit unkempt-looking—garments, it says, “I, more or less, managed to get dressed this morning.”

This type of unattainability is nothing new. Nearly every trend is first popularized in Hollywood and New York, where incomes and fame peak, and passing someone decked out in designer on the street isn’t uncommon.

In fact, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this trend cycle. Those with status always have and always will naturally dictate what’s popular in fashion. 

However, the recent romanticization of the average person’s wardrobe—often restricted to what we can afford, rather than what we’d love to buy—is the antithesis of previous label-forward trends and begs a new question: Will celebrities ever acknowledge the loud privilege of their quiet luxury?

Justice Seay is a senior-standing junior majoring in Journalism with a minor in Media Photography. Holding an interest in all things fashion and pop culture, she hopes to write for a style and entertainment publication after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys thrifting, exercising and endlessly rewatching New Girl.