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New Money vs. Old Money Aesthetic: A Comparative Study

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

The new money vs old money debate is an intriguing one. While both suggest wealth and affluence, the way they manifest in style and lifestyle choices can vastly differ. Through this article, we aim to demystify the layers of class and fashion that make these two aesthetics distinct from one another.


Feature image for the blog post 'New Money vs. Old Money Aesthetic: A Comparative Study', displaying a close-up of a woman's lower torso in a classic white button-up jumper, her hand adorned with a delicate gold bracelet representing the understated elegance of old money aesthetic.

Before we delve into the fascinating world of old money and new money aesthetics, let's give you a snapshot of what this comprehensive guide entails. This article offers insights into:

  • The distinctive characteristics of new money vs old money aesthetics, focusing on their style, lifestyle, and underlying philosophies.

  • The old money fashion approach that prioritises timeless elegance, understated luxury, and long-lasting, high-quality garments over fleeting trends.

  • The adoption of the mantra 'less is more' that epitomises the old money aesthetic, favoring versatile, high-quality wardrobe essentials over quantity.

  • The differences between old money and new money lifestyles, especially in areas such as education, financial philosophy, social networks, and conduct of celebrations and occasions.

  • Practical ways to adopt the old money aesthetic in daily life and fashion, including building a high-quality, timeless wardrobe, adopting the old money mentality, and hosting elegant, intimate gatherings.

Having set the context, let's delve deeper into these fascinating aesthetics of class and fashion.


Interior of a mansion designed in the old money style.

Building the Foundations of Fashion: Old Money vs New Money


The very essence of old-money style lies rooted in the notion of elegance, timeless fashion, and understated luxury. With its keen focus on long-lasting and high-quality garments, it transcends fleeting trends.


While the aesthetics of new money can make a bold statement, old money fashion leans more towards self-confidence and longevity. These subtle aspects reflect not only in the old money outfits aligned with the seasons, but also in the daily lifestyle choices associated with the old money aesthetic.


Timelessness of Old Money Style


With traditional roots and classic tastes in fashion, old-money style champions a life steeped in history and subtle grace. The fashion aesthetics adopt looks that stand the test of time, enabling wearers to draw inspiration from their ancestors and maintain a refined, personal style.


On the other hand, new money reflects a sense of affluence and boldness acquired later in life. The newly rich often associate with brands that flaunt their fortune and tend to invest in fast-fashion and trendy styles. This ultimately compromises the value of sustainability and timelessness, which are more evident in old money fashion.


"True wealth isn't about abundance, but timeless elegance."

Side-by-side comparison photo of a new money woman in Louis Vuitton and carrying multiple shopping bags, versus an old money woman in a black dress and large, sophisticated hat, both strolling the city streets.
Old money vs. new money: the subtle sophistication of understated luxury.

The Charm of the 'Less Is More' Philosophy


In the realm of old-money aesthetics, 'less is more' is truly a mantra to live by. This refined look is achieved through a collection of high-quality, versatile wardrobe essentials. These hand-picked pieces are often understated and transition seamlessly to create timeless looks, as detailed in our guide to the old-money fashion aesthetic.


Quality Over Quantity - It's an Old Money Thing


When it comes to understanding and embracing old money aesthetics, navigating the old money shopping guide is essential. Emphasis is placed on genuine materials such as cashmere, silk, and pure cotton, which ensure not only comfort, but also durability and longevity.


One needn't break the bank to achieve the old-money look. Investing in quality old money fashion brands ensures a balanced wardrobe built on craftsmanship and authenticity. Here, a few well-chosen items can make a statement and elevate the style quotient without the need to splurge on quantity.


Close-up shot of a woman's wrist wearing a thin gold bracelet exemplifying the simplistic old money style, contrasted against a white cardigan.


Old Money vs New Money - Style Icons


For those seeking out style inspirations to craft their own old-money look, iconic old-money styles serve as an invaluable resource. Recognisable icons from Jackie Kennedy to Princess Diana have redefined the essence of old-money fashion. These individuals serve as timeless muses, inspiring generations to embrace elegance, refinement, and understated grace.


Comparison photo of Kim Kardashian in an outfit made of money and Princess Diana in a blue blazer and skirt set, illustrating the stark contrast between new money and old money style.
Kim Kardashian's money ensemble vs. Princess Diana's classic old money style: A clear contrast.

Old Money vs New Money: Lifestyle and Etiquette


Beyond the world of fashion, the old money aesthetic seeps into various aspects of life, where it exudes a particular sense of confidence, discretion, and modesty. Exploring the differences between old and new money lifestyles and etiquette further sheds light on their contrasting values and principles.


Upbringing and Education


Old money families typically emphasise the importance of a well-rounded education, enrolling their children in elite private schools and prestigious universities. This careful cultivation of their children's learnings tends to encompass not only academics but also social refinement, sports, and the arts – endeavours that promote character-building and lifelong connections with like-minded peers. In contrast, new money families might focus more on business endeavours, with immediate wealth-building taking precedence over nurturing relationships and cultural prowess.


Spending and Financial Philosophy


Unlike new money, with its penchant for splurging on flashy extravagances and lavish displays of wealth, old money adheres to a more conservative and financially disciplined approach. Prudent spending habits and investment strategies are ingrained in old money families, ensuring that wealth is preserved and passed down through generations. The focus on acquiring assets that appreciate in value, such as real estate, timeless art, or other valuable collectibles, allows old money families to maintain and grow their wealth over time.


Side-by-side photo comparison of a modern new money house interior versus a classic old money style interior.
Modern opulence vs. Classic elegance: A glimpse into the vastly different worlds of new money and old money interiors.

Social Networks and Connections


The social demeanour of old money individuals often reflects their meticulously curated upbringing. As a result, they tend to be more reserved and approachable than their new money counterparts, who might be prone to boastfulness and ostentatious displays of luxury. Old money families often have well-established social networks built over generations, enabling them to foster meaningful connections that extend far beyond financial gain.


Within these connections are also the initiation rites and traditions, such as exclusive clubs and societies, which are limited to old money circles. New money individuals will often attempt to join these circles, grasping for the sort of social currency and prestige connected with the old money world.

Scene from an old money style gathering: a small group of people enjoying lunch on the balcony of a grand mansion.

Celebrations and Occasions


Even in their celebrations, old money families typically opt for understated elegance. Private gatherings and intimate soirees, rather than opulent parties, are the norm, reflecting the old-money preference for low-key, sophisticated affairs. These occasions often feature personal touches, embracing the traditional ways of entertaining, like a meticulously arranged dinner table with classic dining etiquette.


In stark contrast, new money celebrations lean towards extravagance and grandeur. Exclusive guest lists, trendsetting venues, and high-profile appearances define these events, reflecting the splashy and affluent nature of new-money extravagance.


Embracing the Old Money Aesthetic in Daily Life and Fashion


By understanding the core values and subtleties of the old money aesthetic, you can seamlessly infuse this timeless elegance into your life and wardrobe. As we conclude our comparative study, let's delve into practical ways to embrace the old money aesthetic in daily life and special occasions.


Building an Old Money Wardrobe


Focus on curating a timeless wardrobe built on high-quality pieces that last for generations. The key is to invest in versatile, well-fitting garments made from genuine materials that reflect your personal style while prioritising comfort and durability. Old money style guides provide invaluable insights into selecting suited pieces crafted by reliable and reputable brands.

Custom tailoring is another hallmark of the old money aesthetic, ensuring a perfect fit and creating the impression of effortless sophistication. Time-honoured accessories, such as elegant watches, heirloom jewellery, and statement scarves, further accentuate an ensemble rooted in old money grace.


Image of two men and a woman, stylishly poised on a car, in front of an opulent old money style mansion.

Adopting the Old Money Mentality


A genuine appreciation for arts, culture, and personal development should permeate through old-money-inspired lifestyles. Frequently visiting museums, galleries, and theatrical performances not only cultivates greater cultural understanding but also enriches daily conversations and social interactions.


Developing caring and empathetic relationships with others resonates closely with the old-money mentality. Courteousness, discretion, and modesty in social settings are esteemed characteristics shared by individuals embracing the old money aesthetic.


Photograph capturing an intimate old money style dinner gathering with a few people dining outdoors in front of a classic mansion.

Celebrating with Old Money Elegance


When hosting events or special occasions, aim to create an intimate, elegant environment. Impress your guests with a refined selection of quality foods, wines, and personal touches rather than extravagant displays. Classic table settings, handwritten invitations, and thoughtful, tasteful decorations are all elements that evoke the essence of old-money celebrations.


Conclusion


By understanding these key distinctions and applying them to your daily life and fashion choices, you can seamlessly merge the lessons of old-world elegance with modern sensibilities. In a world defined by an accelerating pace of trends and bold extravagance, the classic charm of the old money aesthetic embodies a refreshing ode to timeless refinement.


If we embrace these lessons wholeheartedly, we inch ever closer to living our lives with authenticity, elegance, and subtle confidence – a testament to the enduring allure of old money style.

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