I love thinking about the concept of dressing yourself in a way that conveys wealth and class in an old-fashioned sense. Of course even money is no guarantee you will look good. As we all know, extremely rich people can still look cheap. There are plenty of walking testimonies, celebrity or otherwise, that you can look tacky even having spent plenty. And there are those without much money but an innate sense of their own style who can look fabulously upmarket.
So what are the elements that make someone look quietly expensive? Just for fun, here are my favourite ideas, gathered from internet searches over time, and also my own notes on when I feel good. I have a few posts planned on this topic, with this first one focusing on our personal style.
Firstly, I think colour plays a big part. To me, ‘expensive’ colours are neutrals, worn together. Think a whole outfit in tones of caramel and cream. Black and off-white or black and caramel are very stylish too. In general black, navy, winter white, beige or caramel and red, and adding soft, muted tones of blush pink, sea-foam green, Tiffany blue and other such shades depending on what suits your colouring. Colours I do not think are luxurious and wealthy are the lurid brights – neon pink, bright purple, yellow, orange. Especially when paired with black. I remember Trinny and Susannah saying once that putting black with a bright colour makes both look cheap.
Fabric-wise, I always think woven, or structured knits look more expensive. Going the other way are floppy t-shirt knits or floaty boho type clothing. Again, this is my personal taste in clothing coming out, but I always feel more pulled together in a pressed shirt and dark fitted jeans or a semi-fitted dress with simple lines.
Wearing classic styles, I consider to whisper money. Luckily I love the classics and never feel more at home in a pair of well-cut jeans and a white shirt (to me, the Hamptons look), or in tailored black pants and a tuxedo front shirt or flattering black top with high heels if dressing up.
Shoe-wise, I love the classics too – the black leather ballet flat, white or navy canvas Converse sneakers (low-tops please, I’ll leave the hi-tops to the youngsters). A perfectly pointed stiletto heel never goes out of fashion. I always think chunky heels make a leg look chunky, even on skinny starlets. Wedges ditto but there are some very cute wedges out there that are a bit finer, not so extreme that look pretty and well-bred.
I know tattoos are a big trend currently but I just think they look so vulgar. In my opinion, there is no way anyone with class and style would have a tattoo, even a hidden one. My husband often says a good business idea to get into would be tattoo removal, because there will be a lot of people wanting that in the future, and I have to agree.
Consider where you are going. When I visit a dear friend in an old money part of town, I love dressing up in my most classic outfits, clothing I imagine I might wear if I lived there. Without fail I always feel richest in my classic clothing.
Take notes on what others are wearing when you visit wealthy areas. There is nothing I love more than (after dressing up) than taking a stroll around the shops, maybe try on some clothing or just have a look through the stores in fancy areas. I notice the outfits and details others are wearing on the streets. Funnily enough I am more interested in what the older ladies are wearing, I don’t know what’s up with that. There is a different vibe in wealthy areas. I like to absorb it and take it home with me.
Wearing big sunglasses I think imparts an air of mystery and glamour. I have gotten out of the habit over winter but need to polish my favourite ones and start wearing them every day. Plus they protect your eyes from the sun, which is important for both the eyes themselves, and also preventing wrinkles. I adore aviators too, they look very luxe to me.
Attending to grooming is très important. Even when at home by myself, and especially when out. I have been perfecting my grooming regime over time, and by making myself do it even when I couldn’t be bothered it’s now become a habit, much like brushing my teeth, that I do it automatically.
I exfoliate and shave my legs in the shower every two days and wash my hair every second day on the alternate days so I don’t spend too long in the shower. I apply body lotion every single morning on every part of my body I can reach. Sometimes it is plain, and sometimes it matches my perfume.
I always wear perfume, even on a home day! I wear it for me, so I am never without it. Currently I enjoy having a variety to choose from. I still enjoy my Chanel No. 5, and more recently Chanel Coco Noir (softer than you would think), however I have a wardrobe of inexpensive fragrances too, for everyday wear.
Painted nails suggest you have plenty of time to lounge around being attended to, but they also suggest you take care of yourself. I always do my toes in the summer (I gave them a break this winter), but I haven’t done my fingernails in years as working in a shoe shop meant they chipped within one day. I am inspired to try again with my fingers though. I read that Butter London polishes are different and don’t chip, so I will try one of their colours.
For makeup, the wealthy look is le no makeup look, with not too much around the eyes. A polished, natural glow, and a bit of bronzer. Being so fair, I always look too orange with bronzer (even pale ones), which is a shame as I love the look on others. So I go the peaches and cream route with a tiny amount of foundation and concealer, a dusting of translucent powder, pinky blush and glossy lips. Groomed brows and a little eyeliner and mascara completes my look.
As I said before, even when I am at home I wear perfume and a little makeup (less than if I’m going to work). Somehow it affects the way I act and how efficient I am throughout the day. Even though I can’t see myself unless I pass a mirror, I feel like less of a slob!
Lastly is jewellery. Keeping my real jewellery very clean ensures its sparkle and therefore the wealthy look. If you don’t have jewellery cleaner, dishwashing liquid and a clean toothbrush will make it look beautiful. Use on gold and all precious stones except for emeralds. I squirt a tiny amount of dishwash on the toothbrush, clean my ring or necklace (including the chain) carefully and then rinse in warm water and dry. You will be amazed how good they look. Pearls just need a polish with a soft cloth and plenty of wear, as the oils in your skin keep them nice.
Actually, clean is probably is one of the biggest things in looking expensive. Think pristine light coloured clothing, just-washed bouncy hair, sparkling jewellery and polished, clean shoes.
What else would you add to this list?