By Prometheus Worley
(April 16, 2023)
The "old money aesthetic" has recently been popular on social media sites like TikTok and Pinterest. With a vast range of images and concepts attached to it, this movement is complicated as much as it is polarizing. As if to possess the wearer with the slightest essence of "Guilded Age" magic, this popular aesthetic seems to be a mash-up of many fashion trends, from the roaring 1920's "Great Gatsby"-style parties to the 1980s Ralph Lauren advertisements featuring tweed and monogram sweaters..
At its core, the style fundamentally appears to be about accepting conventional beliefs and attire. It features timeless items like penny loafers, blue blazers with gold buttons, tweed coats, and sweaters in neutral colors. In general, the thing is better the older and more worn out it is. Stylish but understated accessories like Hermès scarves, Cartier watches, and even Grandma's jewelry are included in the style.
With growing popularity all over the world, this fascinating aesthetic has undergone several reinterpretations throughout the years, despite its historical beginnings as a signifier of membership in a select and exclusive elite. Today's version reflects this spirit of inclusiveness, with many individuals from many backgrounds adopting the fad. The old money appearance may be seen as a disobedient appropriation of archaic norms, a backlash against Kardashian-era "new money" extravagance, or just as a draw to time-tested, high-quality clothing.
This rise in the desire to sport this look comes at the most bizarre time possible. Bastions of prep-wear like Brooks Brothers and J.Crew, which both filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020, have been struggling with shop closures and dwindling sales recently. The same Ivy League universities that are portrayed as the quintessential ideals in TikTok videos paired to songs by Lana Del Rey are the subject of discussions over inclusivity and admittance. The racial wealth gap in America is evidence that there is still inequality in access to generational wealth. The instability of inflation and a financial crisis, on top of everything else, pose a danger to all money, whether it is "old" or "new."
So why, in the midst of all this turmoil, are young people wearing polo shirts and pearls again? According to one interpretation, the old money aesthetic represents a surprising adherence to conventional principles. Looking back to a period when things appeared more solid and definite might be reassuring in a world when everything is changing so rapidly. The fad may also be a chance to embrace a more straightforward, genuine way of life while rejecting the glitzy, materialistic world of today.
The old-money aesthetic, according to a different interpretation, is a kind of resistance to the existing status quo. Young people are defying the established cultural standards and expressing their uniqueness by dressing in a style that is seen as archaic or even stuffy. In this regard, the old money style is more about forging a new identity than it is about honoring the past.
Whatever the cause of its appeal, the old money look is unquestionably here to stay. Designers and influencers alike are infusing traditional preppy motifs into their designs, from high-end fashion companies to streetwear businesses. Others perceive the trend as a chance to express themselves in novel and exciting ways, while others may see it as exclusive or snobbish.
The old money look is ultimately a statement about our cultural time more than merely a fashion trend. Whether you agree with the trend or don't, it's obvious that it speaks to a core and essential aspect of how we see style, authenticity, and identity in the twenty-first century.