Quiet luxury is undoubtedly the buzziest fashion term of 2023 thus far. This fast-growing trend, also referred to as "stealth wealth," has been around for years, but between viral pop culture moments and the autumn/winter 2023 runways, quiet luxury has joined the conversation in a very loud way.
But what exactly is quiet luxury? To help break it down, we consulted fashion stylist Ashley Afriyie. Ahead, you'll discover what the ambiguous term means and how it can fit into your wardrobe. Plus, we added our favorite quiet luxury-inspired brands so you can shop the trend yourself.
Meet the Expert
Ashley Afriyie is a fashion stylist and former fashion editor. She has spent over a decade honing her skills at top luxury fashion organizations such as Gucci, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Teen Vogue.
What Is Quiet Luxury?
According to fashion stylist Ashley Afriyie, the term quiet luxury refers to timeless and understated pieces made with the highest material quality. She points out that this includes pieces that are "chic and classic without brands, logos, or flashy statements." On the flip side, quiet luxury comes with an "if you know, you know" mentality. "To the keen fashion eye, it screams 'I spent X amount of money on this item without the logo,'" says Afriyie. Take the price tag out of the equation, though, and you're left with what's commonly known as a capsule closet or staple wardrobe pieces. Afriyie explains that the luxury aspect refers to the idea of buying investment pieces worth the money. "As the saying goes, 'less is more.' Buy less but spend a little more," she says.
Even though the trend is making rounds right now, Afriyie points to brands such as Celine, The Row, Khaite, Brunello Cucinelli, and Max Mara as examples of brands who have been doing quiet luxury from the start.
In its Phoebe Philo era, Celine embodied all that quiet luxury is. "If we're honest, Celine was one of the first to do it before it was a trend," says Afriyie. "Under Phoebe's tenure at Celine, the brand's DNA was always clean, chic, and minimalistic statement pieces with monochromatic full looks, which is one of the key components to achieving the 'quiet luxury' look."
Why Is It Trending Right Now?
Trend followers are quick to point out that quiet luxury is a complete 180 from where fashion trends stood just last year and even more recently. Microtrends, logomania, and dopamine dressing were the talk of the fashion world, so why has this minimalistic trend gained so much traction? Well, if you're a loyal pop culture fan, you've probably seen this concept associated with HBO's Succession or perhaps Gwyneth Paltrow's now infamous courtroom style.
In Succession's case, the characters on the show have an unlimited budget to spend on clothing, yet they have an extremely understated fashion sense. Don't be fooled, though. Their "basic" or minimalistic clothing comes from brands such as Brunello Cucinelli, Tom Ford, and Maison Margiela. So even though their style seems attainable, those in the know will be able to recognize Kendall's $500 sneakers or Shiv's Max Mara coat.
When we talk about quiet luxury, though, it's important to recognize the term stems from an extremely classist mentality. In a way, it's a less abrasive way of describing the "old-money aesthetic," which feels exclusive and only available to a particular group. But, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to style yourself in a quiet luxury look without the luxury price tag.
How To Incorporate Quiet Luxury Into Your Wardrobe
As we mentioned earlier, quiet luxury is really just a capsule wardrobe, so there are plenty of ways to embrace the style while on a budget. In fact, you may already have some of the pieces in your closet. Afriyie breaks down some of her key pieces for the quiet luxury look.
- Structured Handbag: "They have the classic and unique silhouettes, quality, but most importantly, the luxe designs that are free of any blatant logos," says Afriyie. Try searching for a structured handbag that has a buckle or hardware detailing or one that is made from a luxe material like vegan leather.
- Wool Coat: Afriyie points out that wool is an expensive fabric because of the process, but it's minimal and understated. "Wool coats are often neutral tones like black, navy, tan, white/cream, and are often associated with achieving the 'quiet luxury' look," she adds. You can also find plenty of wool-like coats that have the same look as the material but for a more affordable price.
- Cashmere Sweater: "Quiet luxury is meant to give off the appearance of comfort and relaxed but achieved with minimal effort," explains Afriyie. "The cashmere sweater gives off that appearance, but those in the fashion circle know the statement you’re trying to put out there when you pair it with your outfit," she continues. By the way, there are plenty of brands like Everlane and Naadam that carry reasonably priced cashmere and are just as luxe-looking.
- Fine Jewelry/Heirloom Jewelry: When it comes to accessories, Afriyie suggests opting for gold jewelry or pieces with stones because they will last a lifetime. Also, fine jewelry isn't as expensive and unattainable as it once was. There are several brands, including Mejuri, Dorsey, and Jenny Bird, that have under-$150 fine jewelry finds. If you are looking to invest in a piece of fine jewelry, keep it classic so it can be re-worn and passed down to a loved one. "That’s the point of quiet luxury—it's the responsibility to keep a sustainable fashion lifestyle by re-wearing looks for years to come," she says.
Quiet Luxury-Inspired Brands To Shop
Head designer and founder of Lisou, Rene Macdonald, grew up in Tanzania but moved to the UK at a young age. She would often travel back and forth to Africa, a place that has inspired and influenced her work. While the brand plays with a lot of color and prints, the silhouettes and materials encapsulate the quiet luxury trend to a T.
Almina Concept is a sustainable direct-to-consumer brand that specializes in elevated, modern pieces that are also affordable. The founder, Angela Gahng, found that there was a lack of high-quality, modern, and affordable pieces in the retail space, and she created Almina Concept with the idea to fill that gap.
The Frankie Shop
The Frankie Shop is a go-to for everyday essential pieces that look and feel luxe. While the brand's website carries pieces from several different brands across different price points, you'll still find timeless affordable pieces that read quiet luxury.
Pieces from Re Ona can best be described as comfortable and minimal, which is exactly what quiet luxury is all about. Take a look at their "permanent wardrobe" section, and you're sure to find your new go-to elevated basic, and for a great price at that.
Dorsey is a lab-grown gemstone direct-to-consumer jewelry brand that carries fine jewelry starting at around $150. If you are looking for more of a splurge they have countless effortlessly stunning pieces that you'll want to wear every day or others that you can reserve for a special occasion.
You're likely familiar with the brand Cos, which carries luxe-looking staples across all price points. If you're looking for key basics to build your quiet luxury wardrobe, Cos is the place to start your journey. They also have a selection of accessories and shoes for a complete look.
In a sea of designer bags, Polène's sleek and timeless designs stand out. Based in Paris, Polène describes itself as a "top-end leather goods brand." You'll find that these bags have the same effortless feeling as a designer leather bag that's double the cost.
Consider Saint Art quiet luxury with a streetwear twist. The pieces are all timeless, but you may find a raw hemline or unique cut, which adds a bit of edge to the classic clothing.
The ethos of Modern Citizen lies in the balance of quality products and an accessible price point. The brand creates pieces that are made to be re-worn, year after year. From work-ready dresses and trousers to your favorite summer loungewear, Modern Citizen has you covered.
Intimissimi is much more than lingerie. The Italian brand is full of accessible closet staples, including ribbed tanks, silk tops, and its celebrity-loved boat neck top. You can find most pieces for under $100—what's not to love?