Gone are the days when reaching the pinnacle of wealth, the very rich learned and enjoyed the pleasures of sartorial luxury. Back in the days, the style and sense of fashion of the aristocracy and old money was the aspirational goal for the new rich, who saw in the dress codes an entry ticket to the established higher society. Now we have TV series like Succession that show us where it went so wrong.
What the rich and powerful used to wear to impress.
At the very beginning of the century, when billionaires were still called millionaires, the first earned money was invested in fine clothes since the famous adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” still meant something. And if they didn’t get it right (usually by overdoing it), like Jay Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel “The Great Gatsby“, they rapidly became branded as parvenus and wannabes.
Hard times for rich people back then. But when they got it right, they became style icons themselves, filling the pages of society magazines and making the joys of us ordinary mortals. Some notable representatives were Gianni Agnelli, John Rockefeller, Howard Hughes, and Doris Duke, who adapted the look of royalty and aristocracy to perfection.
From rag to riches and back
From back then to our days, quite a lot has changed. Nowadays, billionaires do not intend to be sophisticated in the least; on the contrary: there is a belief that if you dress like a college bum, this will make you approachable and real (therefore supposedly likeable), even though you develop such eccentricities as building penis-shaped rocket ships, compete for who has the largest Disney Park on a boat or who will become the greatest Bond villain in real life.
What can we learn from Succession Series Style?
Just watch HBO Succession Series, the story of the Roys, a highly dysfunctional dynasty, to get a hint of the poorest fashion style by a long shot. All suits have too tight jackets and too long trousers, female characters seem to have come from a baby shower at Aunt Gina’s in Long Island, and baseball caps are the new crowns and tiaras.
In Succession season one, Shiv Roy wore neutral turtle necks, creating a female version of Steve Job. But this last season, she looked like a crumpled gift package, with dresses and shoes that don’t make any sense. And what does Kendall Roy’s massive necklace mean? Succession Series Style is raising questions that are driving the internet, and us, crazy.
Is Succession Series Style just bad, or are the new billionaires revolutionizing the way to dress?
In real life, some billionaires do at least wear designer clothes but mostly casual fashion. And these clothes must last for years to repeat the same look ad-nauseam. Mark Zuckerberg wears the same gray t-shirt with jeans every day, except for weekends, when he wears the same gray t-shirt now combined with horrible shorts and even more horrible plastic sandals to spice things up a little.
T-shirt is the new tie.
Crazy and inexplicable outfits are also there, like spacesuits with cowboy hats, Dr No suits, plastic pants, and other weird stuff, but the common denominator is the t-shirt…ah the t-shirt… everywhere and every day, it is exhausting! It is not to say that they have all to wear Saville Row now, but at least a slight tiny hint of good taste and originality would be welcomed and appreciated from time to time. I mean, if you can spend one zillion quanti-dollars building a flying saucer the size of Saturn so you can play the harmonica alone in outer space, you could put a little effort into your look as well. And training good taste in the smaller things is a very good way to keep on developing a good taste in larger ones, like boats, houses, and planes for instance (because these horrible mega yachts and jets are just insane and vulgar).
Here are 9 hints of how to merge the classiness of yesteryear billionaires with the ones we have around today.
- T-Shirt yes, but not everywhere. And 3 days a week, top!
- Since monochromatic seems to be the cri-de-guerre of new money, so be it, but use different shades of it. White and grey, white and blue, while grey and blue in different tonalities.
- Classic shirts – there is nothing that you can do wrong with a Brooks Brothers Bottom-Down shirt (go crazy and get a light blue one as well), or if you want to go big , Turnbull & Asser.
- Jeans, sure, but keep it also to a couple of days a week. Try to throw a little spice into the garderobe, with some chinos and gray flannels. No skinny jeans! And stick to classic Levy’s, don’ invent, keep those creative juices flowing for the new Humanoid you are building to take over the world.
- Hoodies are soooo overexposed! Every Italian waiter trying to look the part is wearing it with the fake Rolex. So please, drop it. No seriously, for the love of your space station in Alpha Centaury, stop wearing that damned cashmere hoodie and get some nice pullovers instead.
- The over-prized insulated vest – sure, still cool, and will work with sneakers as well as with Chukka Boots or Loafers. With sneakers, tone it down – Superga or decent Nikes. Loafers stick to the classic penny loafer.
- And now for the hardest part, the jacket. Get yourself some Gieves & Hawkes, Anderson Sheppard, or Anton Meyer Sport Jackets. There may be suede or leader jackets as well if you want to be daring.
- Keep your baseball cap if you must, but it does not make you look younger, just saying.
- And as for the ladies, you have so many options that it is almost unthinkable that you can’t nail it. Please take a closer look at Russian oligarchs’ wives, it’s new money as well but they got it right, just stick to it.
Last but not least.
Et voilá, now are not only filthy rich but looking the part and being admired and copied for your style as well. And as for trying to be “real”, get yourself some classy toys and hobbies, like 1930s sailing boats, vintage cars, sustainable farms, wind and solar parks, education programs for the third world, etc.
Vive les nouveaux riche! And you owe me €12M for the tips.