Quiet Luxury: The Way My Mother Taught Me To Dress

The talk of ‘quiet luxury’ is not so quiet anymore. Most fashion influencers and YouTubers who did not take pictures in monochromatic elegant outfits, at least spoke about it, highlighting one of the most popular trends of 2023. Frankly, when I noticed the rise of the trend on social media, I raised my eyebrows in surprise. It has been more of a lifestyle rather than a trend to me, simply because ‘quiet luxury’ is a long-lasting movement rather than a fleeting trend. 


For those who missed loud chanting of the trend on social media, ‘quiet luxury’ combines ideas of sustainable fashion, capsule wardrobe and timeless design. Having fewer but better items lies at the core of this trend. Well, I must say although the term is trending, the concept has been around for decades. Opponent to logo mania and fast fashion, ‘quiet luxury’ is a new take on minimalism that features more elegant silhouettes, elevated basics and high-quality materials. Asking if a coat or a pair of shoes would stand the test of time can identify whether you chose a ‘quiet luxury’ type of item. Now you see why I was surprised to find out what I have been choosing for my wardrobe throughout years, became a viral trend. 


My childhood fell on the 90s in Russia, where, although I can’t recall much of it, was a lack of quality, stylish clothes. But there was a tailor, an acquaintance of my mother and second-hand stores,—two places where my sister and I received our first education in fashion. There we learned to separate cheap polyester tops from Pima cotton tees, and wool sweaters from acrylic ones that would start peeling after the first wash. I believe it was back then, that the concept of ‘quiet luxury’ was introduced to me without my mother even knowing that two decades later it would become a social media trend and a core of my own style. 


Since I never questioned falling for the ‘quiet luxury’ trend and simply followed a few simple rules of shopping for clothes, (more intuitively when I was younger and consciously in the last few years), I thought I would add my little list to the whole calamity around this movement. 


First, I question every piece that catches my attention, whether it would go out of style in two seasons, or if I could enjoy it in my closet for the next few years. Working from home, and being a mom to a toddler, I realized the importance of easily-washable, comfortable, yet high quality, timeless and elegant in their silhouettes sweaters and pants that would take me through my day-to-day routine. 


Second, a collection of classics in neutral tones makes your life easier. I am not talking about street-style fashion influences (those guys know how to choose the best pieces on the market). I rather stress my attention on women whose life takes them through school drop-offs, work meetings, grocery store runs and social gatherings. Every one of them could benefit from a wardrobe that consists of colours, silhouettes and fabrics that are wearable, neutral and easily match with each other. 


The third one is my favourite,—smart tailoring. The quality of materials is one part that can’t be neglected. Meanwhile, another equally important part is the proper fit. The appeal of ‘quiet luxury’ is that those silhouettes can not be categorized as ultra-oversized (think 2019) or suffocatingly tight (Pinterest-inspired looks from 2013). Instead, those silhouettes are simply right. The golden middle. The perfect tailoring. Neither too much nor too little. Straight jeans instead of skinny or baggy. Heavy knit sweater that slightly covers hips instead of a cropped one. You get the idea. 


Finally, the fourth rule to dress according to the ‘quiet luxury’ trend is the most attractive one. It goes like this: you don’t need a trust fund to achieve Lily van der Woodsen, Audrey Hepburn or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s style. There are reselling platforms for high-end designer pieces, second-hand stores and vintage markets. Surely, building a wardrobe based on pieces bought at a more affordable price might take some time, but who said you have to have it all right away? All you need is commitment, an idea of what you are looking for, and some time to sort through piles of clothes that eventually would come as a core of your luxuriously quiet and sophisticated, yet low-priced wardrobe.