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This post is all about stealth wealth, also known as ‘quiet luxury’, why quiet luxury is desirable and how to achieve it.
Stealth wealth – you may have seen the term written about in high-end publications, on social media channels like TikTok and Instagram, and you’ve likely seen it displayed (if not talked about) on TV. ‘Stealth wealth‘ or ‘quiet luxury‘ is a trend that seems to have taken over in the year 2023 and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
And if you think about it – it makes sense. It was only a mere few years ago that the worldwide pandemic took over every aspect of our lives and we are only just starting to get back to life as we knew it. Many continue to struggle, and uncertainty about the economy remains. Not to mention rising inflation making things even more challenging.
With all this in mind, is now really the time to flash the cash? Or is it time for a more elegant, subdued way of living, without necessarily making compromises on the ‘luxury‘ factor.
If you’re an avid reader of Dukes Avenue, you’ll know that we are all about inspiring luxury living in whatever way that means to you, and so, with so much content being covered on the many ways how to live a stealth wealth lifestyle, we are of course, sharing our own thoughts on the subject.
If you’re brand new to the concept of stealth wealth, we’re covering the basics – including a simple explanation of what stealth wealth actually means, why you might want to choose to live a life of quiet luxury, how to practice stealth wealth, how to spot stealth wealth and more.
- What is Stealth Wealth?
- When Did the Quiet Luxury Trend Start?
- Why Choose to Be Stealthy About Your Wealth?
- How to Practice Stealth Wealth?
- How to Spot Stealth Wealth?
- What is Stealth Wealth Fashion?
- How to Dress Stealth Wealth on a Budget
- Final Thoughts on Stealth Wealth
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What is Stealth Wealth?
Stealth wealth, or now more frequently known as quiet luxury, is just what you’d think it means. The word stealth in itself refers to a way of acting or moving in a secret and inconspicuous manner to avoid being seen – blending in with the crowd so to speak, and escaping the knowledge of others.
When it comes to stealth wealth, it is simply the art of consciously keeping knowledge of your wealth or belongings hidden from the outside world. In other words, all wealth is stealth until you reveal it! Admittedly, this has become a challenge in the last few decades.
In a world where it has become the norm to share images of belongings and new luxury purchases on social media (think: the designer bag unboxing trend!), where the term ‘luxury‘ is thrown around as much as the money being frivolously spent and the common mentality is that if it isn’t a big brand name or doesn’t show a logo, it won’t give off the right image – the temptation to wear your finances on your sleeve just to fit in feels like it has never been higher.
It’s a sad reality that many make assumptions about others based on the items they buy, the house they live in, the car they drive and spending habits in general, putting unnecessary pressure on what is already a challenging environment.
And let’s not forget, purchasing the item for clout does not reveal whether the item was bought on credit for that very reason, nor does it reveal the individual’s overall financial standing or general wealth. Take Warren Buffett for example, who continues to drive a 2014 Cadillac and up until recently, resided in the same home he had lived in since 1958!
Putting his own notoriety aside, you would never assume that the owner of that property would have a net worth of over $100 billion, making him one of the top 10 billionaires in the world.
This is what stealth wealth is all about. Living in luxury is very much personal, and it’s why this website always encourages readers to find their own version of luxury, in whatever way that means to them and not what society dictates – this suits the tone of quiet luxury perfectly. As Buffett himself once said about his own discreet residence, “I’m happy there. I’d move if I thought I’d be happier someplace else.”
When Did the Quiet Luxury Trend Start?
Whilst the terms ‘quiet luxury’ and ‘stealth wealth’ have only recently started rearing their head over the last year or so, the concept is not new.
According to Time, quiet luxury can trace ‘its roots as far back as the American industrialists of the 19th-century Gilded Age and France in the 1700s‘, the latter referring to the fall of the French Monarchy, when the elite moved away from powdered wigs and elaborate garments full of frills and lace, and accessorized with costly diamonds and gemstones.
It was then that we saw the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the emergence of the industrialists that built up a significant amount of wealth and power – and they did it in what we would now call a dark power suit.
The truth is, style, elegance and simple inconspicuous living has been around for a while … but rather it is the term ‘quiet luxury‘ which represents the trend, and we can blame pop culture for that.
The mere mention of ‘quiet luxury‘ or ‘stealth wealth‘ has become synonymous with HBO’s popular series Succession – an American satirical black comedy-drama centered around the lives of the uber wealthy and affluent Roy family, owners of the fictional global entertainment conglomerate, Waystar RoyCo.
The synopsis? After news emerges of the ailing health of family patriarch (Logan Roy), the series goes on to tell the tale of the familial battle for control of the family business, with his children Connor, Kendall, Roman, Shiv and husband Tom Wambsgans, as well as cousin Greg Hirsch, all vying for prominence at the firm.
Fans of the show will be familiar with some of the quick-witted one-liners that have emerged and become particularly memorable.
Take for example, the scene where Bridget (cousin Greg’s date) attends Logan’s birthday party wearing a rather large plaid Burberry tote bag. In the Roy realm, this obnoxious display of logos in a room where many of the attendees are extraordinarily wealthy people, did not go down so well.
More so, it served to show that she just isn’t part of their world. In their environment, money talks, but wealth whispers and is heard just as loud.
In an almost Miranda Priestly-like fashion, Tom now infamously remarks that she brought along a ‘ludicrously capacious bag‘, and ponders in disgust, ‘What’s even in there? Flat shoes for the subway? Her lunch pail? It’s gargantuan. You could take it camping. You could slide it across the floor after a bank job‘.
Whilst pretty comical, his words say a lot more than their actual meaning. Of course, old money does not need to carry a large bag.
There is no need to carry flat shoes when you have a car waiting for you outside and have no plans to take public transport, and there is no need to pack lunch with yesterday’s leftovers when you have lunch reservations at your favorite eatery on a daily basis. And why pack gym gear, when you have your own private gym at home and can work out in privacy and comfort, with a personal trainer that comes to you?
Of course, this sort of lifestyle is not one that’s common, but it sets a great example of how stealth wealth is the opposite of displaying luxury purchases. Rather, it is the loudest one in the room that is the weakest one in the room.
Editor’s Note: Catch this scene in Succession’s Season 4 premiere. Season 4, episode 1 aired on March 26, 2023 on HBO.
Why Choose to Be Stealthy About Your Wealth?
So at this point, you may be wandering why it’s wise to be stealth-like with your wealth if you just cannot relate to the characters in the series. Whether your wealth amounts to five, six or seven or more digits, here are some of the reasons why you might choose to be stealthy about your wealth:
- Take Some of the Pressure Off: once you start to throw your money around, for whatever reason, you’ll need to keep splashing the cash to keep up with appearances, and this could result in a downward financial spiral… and for what purpose? Is it for a good cause, or is it just for attention? Think about what truly makes you happy and whether it’s worth compromising your financial stability.
- To Not Rely on Material Possessions for Happiness: once you dedicate your time and energy to activities other than spending money, you’ll realize how much more there is to life and what a gift it is in itself. As we write in our article on how to live a luxury lifestyle, money and material possessions will not necessarily bring about happiness, and ultimately, luxury is all about self-worth and not net worth. Practising stealth wealth will encourage you to find more meaningful reasons to be happy.
- To Be Financially Secure in the Long Run: not spending on frivolous items encourages you to put more money aside for more important things such as retirement planning, savings or perhaps more charitable activities.
- To Ensure True Friendships: it’s a sad fact of life that not everyone has the best intentions – new acquaintances can suddenly appear because they’ve heard of your generous ways and expect to gain something from the new friendship. On the other hand, a display of a sudden inflow of wealth can result in old acquaintances who you haven’t heard from in a while coming out of the woodwork. Improve friendships by keeping your financial information private.
- To Avoid Resentment and Anger from Others: being cognizant of those around you is incredibly important – not everyone is going through the same financial situation and may not appreciate seeing displays of wealth at every opportunity. Whilst their happiness is not your responsibility, it’s never a bad idea to remain humble, especially during turbulent economic times.
- To Not Get Ripped Off: it’s a well-known fact that the more perceived wealth you have, the higher the prices you will be charged by those who know you have the capacity to spend!
- To Not Put Yourself at Risk of Robbery or Theft (Or Any Other Harm!): wealthy individuals are targets for those who are willing to go to unscrupulous means to get what they have their eye on – don’t let that be your belongings!
How to Practice Stealth Wealth?
Here are 13 basic tips and tricks you can apply to your own life, to practise living in quiet luxury, no matter your net worth.
- Never talk about money: from asking the price of things to others, to revealing your salary or net worth, never speak about money or how much things cost to purchase.
- Never give out personal details such as a home address: privacy is key! Rather than giving out a home address, give cross streets.
- Always be humble: never brag about your purchases or material things.
- Find happiness in non-material things: like exercise, clean eating, friendships, meditation and philanthropy
- Spread your investments appropriately: invest across multiple locations and asset classes – don’t put all your eggs in the same basket!
- Get out of your bubble to appreciate your position: you are likely luckier than you think and sometimes don’t realise it!
- Act like a leader throughout all walks of life: and work to inspire greatness in others, not just boast about your own success and what it affords you. Always praise others for their achievements, even if they are far less than your own. Anyone who has stealth wealth has no superiority complex.
- Spend far less than you earn: anyone with any material wealth will be the first to tell you that to become wealthy, you need to spend far less than you earn and set aside some savings.
- Avoid flashy logos or loud brand imagery: subtlety is key and that extends to your wardrobe.
- Invest in high quality, classic, timeless pieces: if you can afford to splurge on a wardrobe staple that will last for years to come, then that is the kind of clothing you want to invest in, rather than trend-led pieces.
- Avoid overdressing for casual events: always dress appropriately for whatever occasion, overdressing or wearing excessive bling to inappropriate events definitely doesn’t fit the quiet luxury mould.
- Curate capsule wardrobes: the idea behind a capsule wardrobe is to invest in fewer, yet higher quality pieces that can be worn together for years to come, without ever going out of style.
- Be confident and proud of your achievements: know what you bring to the table and be proud of where you are in life, without of course, bragging to others.
How to Spot Stealth Wealth?
The beauty about stealth wealth is that it’s not apparent upon meeting someone for the first time, but there are subtle classic tell-tales that you might pick up on that will give the game away.
- Stealth Wealth is Worldly, with an International Mindset: chances are, the wealthier an individual is, the more of the world they are likely to have seen. They are open-minded, learned, knowledgeable about different cultures and accepting of different ways of life. And finances aside, travelling in itself is a sure way to enrich anyone’s life anyway!
- They are Secretive: and this is not in a negative way, but they may not disclose an awful lot about their personal life or share private matters with people they are not exceptionally close to. They always remain a little bit of a mystery, which makes them all the more interesting.
- They NEVER EVER Talk about Money: and this includes their earnings, asking how much things cost or any other personal financial matters
- They Display Very Discreet Signs of Wealth that are Easily Missed: you won’t catch them wearing an item that includes a prominent logo or well-known pattern, but if you look closely, you may spot a pair of Internally Flawless D color 2 carat stud earrings that you would otherwise think are costume jewelry. Or at first glance, you may think they are wearing a simple sweater, but it is only upon brushing against the fabric that you notice it is made of the highest quality cashmere from Loro Piana.
- They Don’t Post Their Prized Possessions on Social Media: this is a tough one in this day and age, and unless you share your life as part of your business’s social media strategy, you might want to keep your personal life and belongings off the internet.
- They Invest in Income-Generating Assets Rather Than Items to Display Their Wealth to Others: this one is pretty self-explanatory, but they are far more likely to talk about how they recently bought shares, bonds or property as opposed to flashy designer items for the sake of impressing others.
What is Stealth Wealth Fashion?
Stealth wealth applies to far more than just general lifestyle habits and a lot of what you might see covered in the media today is focused around clothing, or quiet luxury fashion.
As said by Martin Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, a research, consultancy and employee training firm, in relation to fashion, ‘stealth wealth is a long-standing code among the uber-rich.’
Now of course, that’s not to say that luxury is compromised, or that designer purchases are not made, but rather it is the type of designer purchases that are different.
As mentioned previously, you won’t catch Succession-like characters purchasing t-shirts blazoned with the brand’s logo, or accessories that prominently feature a brand’s standard monogram patterns, but instead they are far more likely to invest in smart, quality garments made of the finest fabrics such as cashmere and silk.
Succession’s costume designer Michelle Matland has nailed the ‘effortlessly elegant‘ look perfectly, whether that’s through inconspicuous luxury pieces like Kendall Roy’s Tom Ford hoodie (which retails at $1,390), or his grey, unembellished $495 cap made by Italian luxury brand Loro Piana.
The character of Shiv Roy also has a spectacular selection of stylish Ralph Lauren pieces that are blended together to form some ultra chic outfits. This low key approach to luxury is what it’s all about.
Think neutral shades, fabulous fabrics, and chic silhouettes such as beautiful shift dresses, power shirts, tailored blazers and luxe loafers. But Succession is not the only source we have for examples of quiet luxury fashion…
Equally as talked about is Gwyneth Paltrow’s most recent role in her very own real-life drama in a Utah courtroom – a dispute over a ski crash that occurred back in 2016.
Over the course of a week, she wowed watchers of the trial with her stylish minimalist and neutral looks, including an all-Prada black ensemble, a moss green wool coat from quiet luxury favorite The Row (founded by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen), recognizable Celine boots in calfskin and Loro Piano cashmeres.
To summarize, quiet luxury fashion is subtle powerhouse dressing, with a strong focus on quality, style, timelessness and a preference for neutral shades. It may look simple to the untrained eye, but as the quiet luxury fashionistas are known for saying, if you know, you know.
How to Dress Stealth Wealth on a Budget
For those who do not have a Succession or Paltrow budget to adorn our wardrobes with the finest luxury brands, there is hope. After all, you don’t need to shop directly from the runways to have impeccable taste or to know how to elevate the basics.
Cut, fabric and fit are essential components to achieving the stealth wealth look. Good quality pieces are obtainable from mass market labels, with many brands picking up on the demand for this way of dressing. Names like J.Crew, Banana Republic, Lily Silk and Vince are all great examples of places to shop, whilst avoiding the high end price tag.
Are you likely to notice the difference between a Loro Piana cashmere sweater and a J.Crew cashmere sweater? Sure, but only if they are held side by side, and only to those ‘in the know‘. To your every day contacts, probably not so much! What they will notice is your newfound sharp and chic appearance, which you can thank quiet luxury for.
Final Thoughts on Stealth Wealth
With a better understanding of stealth wealth and its origins, as well as how to emulate some of these practices into your own life, you’re now able to formulate your own views on the subject and whether this is a lifestyle you wish to pursue.
For what it’s worth, here are our thoughts. ‘Stealth wealth‘ or ‘quiet luxury‘ is simply a trend label for individuals who are discreet, well-dressed, may or may not have a healthy financial bank account balance (but of course, we would never know for sure) and do not feel the need to show the world their possessions and purchases. They live in their own world of luxury and do not need to conform to the demands of society to prove that they are living well – however that may be.
When it comes to quiet luxury fashion, this is just a way to explain a well-dressed, classic and timeless style – a style that has been around for years and will far outlast any labels assigned to it today.
Can you practice stealth wealth and not be, well, wealthy? Let’s be honest, there aren’t all that many people in the world who can live in the same manner as the characters from Succession, Paltrow or any other well-heeled individual that might cross your path. More often than not, most individuals are out finding their own version of stealth wealth, in whatever way that means to them.
Can you be wealthy and not practice stealth wealth or quiet luxury? Of course! Just take a look at the Kardashians – at their level, they have achieved enough to be able to dress exactly how they wish and post all the pictures of private jets they like. They have found their own version of luxury living and are definitely owning it.
The bottom line – however you choose to live must be authentic. What luxury certainly is not is constantly being conscious of the way you conduct yourself with friends and family if you are not being true to yourself. If you’re looking to make a change, make sure it’s a natural transition to a new way of living, and not a change that requires constant behavioral monitoring to ensure you tick all the required boxes!
Stealth Wealth FAQs
What is a Stealth Millionaire?
A stealth millionaire refers to an individual who has reached a net worth of one million dollars or more, and consciously chooses not to make this obvious to the world, using the techniques and practices listed here in this article.
What is the Reason for Stealth Wealth?
Choosing to live a stealth wealth or quiet luxury lifestyle all boils down to personal choice – people have different reasons for wanting to live in different ways, and that is ok! As we’ve said all along, find your own version of luxury, as that is what will truly bring you happiness.
What Cars are Best for Stealth Wealth?
Stealth wealth cars can seen in exactly the same way as clothing. Discreet, not too flashy but good quality nonetheless. Car brands such as Volvo, Lexus, Hyundai and Toyota all fit the bill.
What are the Three Types of Wealthy?
The three types of wealth are:
- primary: refers to direct ownership of physical resources
- secondary: refers to wealth that is generated from a firm’s capacity to produce more primary wealth
- tertiary: refers to a claim to wealth in the form of stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
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Sarah is a syndicated freelance writer and editor of Dukes Avenue. She founded Dukes Avenue in 2018 as a creative outlet while working at a London hedge fund. What initially started as a small blog has become a widely read luxury lifestyle online publication targeted at the modern woman, with content curated to inspire readers to live their best and most fulfilled lives. Sarah has lived in London, Malta, and, most recently, the United Arab Emirates and uses her travels and experiences to inspire much of the content.
Sarah Borg Barthethttps://dukesavenue.com/author/sarah-borg-barthet/
Sarah Borg Barthethttps://dukesavenue.com/author/sarah-borg-barthet/
Sarah Borg Barthethttps://dukesavenue.com/author/sarah-borg-barthet/
Sarah Borg Barthethttps://dukesavenue.com/author/sarah-borg-barthet/