I feel like it’s been awhile since we reinforced (for our loyal readers) and introduced (to our new readers) one of the basics of the Old Money lifestyle: the clothes.
So let me cover some important points that will articulate the how-to aspect of dressing in Old Money style. More importantly, I’ll review the even more important aspect of ‘why’ we adopt this mode of dress, from cradle to grave.
First, let me say this: creating an Old Money wardrobe is probably one of the easiest changes to make when you start adopting the Old Money way of life. You can ditch the cheap, trendy, and flashy articles of clothing you own and reinvest in more traditional, durable, and discreet pieces that are versatile in use and classic in design.
But, unless you’re actively interviewing for a job or have just landed a new job that requires you to upgrade your wardrobe, it’s probably not the most important thing you can do. Higher on the list would be getting a handle on your budget and committing the Old Money Values that I talk about in The Old Money Book to heart.
But I am aware that some people work from ‘the outside in’, meaning that sometimes changing your wardrobe can lead to changing your mindset. And that’s fine. So let’s talk about the basics of creating and maintaining an economical and enduring wardrobe that’s going to serve you well for years to come.
First, the philosophy: the thinking behind dressing in an Old Money or ‘preppy’ style is that you’re not attracting undue attention to yourself. You’re also communicating the idea that you are to be treated with respect. This means, for Old Money Gals, that you’re not showing cleavage with your tops or sporting misdemeanor-high skirts or provocatively cut jeans.
For young Old Money Guys, the look will communicate reliability and an awareness of, if not an adherence to, Old Money Values like The Work Ethic, Family, Health, and Financial Independence, just to name a few.
Second on the list is the economics of the situation. By this I mean that you’re going to view your clothes as investments: things that will give you more use and value over time than the initial amount of money you paid for them.
If you stick with the tried-and-true J. Press/Brooks Brothers/Ralph Lauren/Lands End/LL Bean styled button-downs, khakis, wool and cotton sweaters, and traditional footwear and accessories, you’re going to buy fewer articles of clothing, less often, and enjoy a better overall look over time.
All of your shirts, pants, and jackets are going to go with each other, so you’ll have more versatility–more looks–with fewer pieces.
What you don’t want to do is follow fashion. Instead, develop your style. Avoid credit card debt. Save your money. Be financially independent sooner. One of the easiest ways to do this is to dress Old Money Style with classic pieces, curated over time.
Oh, by the way, economics also applies to the ease with which you can clean, preserve and maintain your wardrobe. Quality 100% cotton oxford cloth shirts and blouses, cotton khaki pants can all be washed, dried, and ironed by you, at home, saving the expense of dry cleaning for most of your daily wardrobe. Dry cleaning can be hard on clothes. Best to use it only for sweaters, jackets, blazers, and suits.
Another important point to mention is comfort. Dressing Old Money Style means that you’re comfortable in your own clothes, not to mention your own skin. You can walk the city, hike the country, weather the cold, endure the heat, play with the dog, and attend the theatre…all in clothes that are appropriate for the event and comfortable to wear.
Guys, f you’re not really interested in clothes, Old Money Style is definitely the way to go. You can get your copy of Old Money Style, go to the chapter that details The Starting Five, and purchase the five articles of clothing that you’ll probably need and use most. Bingo, Ringo, you’re done.
Gals, make it easy on yourself: just get your copy of Old Money, New Woman and review the items on the ‘Short List’ in Chapter 12, or simply leave a comment here on the blog, asking for help. Our gang of trusty Old Money Gals will offer suggestions, vendors, and wisdom to help you easily and economically transform your wardrobe.
If you’ve been away from work or out of work for a period of time due to the pandemic, this is your chance to reinvent yourself and reintroduce yourself to the world.
You may be working at a new company, working from home, or working two jobs. Don’t make yourself crazy by trying to assemble a different wardrobe for each new circumstance. Adopt Old Money Style, preppy style, or whatever you want to call it, and make it your own.
It’s a whole new ballgame. Play it well.