‘Quiet luxury’ and ‘stealth wealth’ have become some of the biggest buzzwords in menswear of late. They’re largely used to describe the types of brands that stitch a label into the neckline of a cashmere sweater and charge £4,000 for it, but we like to think of these terms in a broader sense.
Forget about your Loro Pianas and Brunello Cucinellis – to us, quiet luxury isn’t a label or a designer – it’s an aura that certain people give off with their clothes. At first glance, they may not be wearing anything particularly extravagant, and yet they look sharp; they look suave; they look sophisticated.
But how? On paper, their outfit is no different to yours: T-shirt, button-up, jeans, boots. So why does it look so much… better?
What you’re looking at is the monumental difference seemingly small wardrobe upgrades can make – the real meaning of quiet luxury. We’re talking properly fitting ringspun tees as opposed to Hanes 3-packs, a Tudor instead of a Timex, or switching your store-bought Derbies for a handmade pair from a renowned shoemaker. Of course, these things cost money, but you’ll also generally get more use out of them in the long run.
You’ve had three quick examples for free, but what else can you do to elevate your wardrobe and take your everyday style to the next level? Keep scrolling to find out.
Switch To A Mechanical Timepiece
Men tend to be more limited than women when it comes to wearing jewellery, but a wristwatch is the exception. This is something you can use to add a touch of luxury to even the most basic of outfits, so you may want to consider throwing a bit of money at it.
While there’s nothing wrong with a cheap-and-cheerful watch featuring a modest quartz movement, buying an automatic is where you enter the world of what horologists would call ‘real’ watches. They’re often handmade, with intricate parts and acute attention to detail, and they’ll keep ticking as long as they’re jostling around on your wrist – no batteries required.
Prices for automatic timepieces can vary wildly, from hundreds to hundreds of thousands. Seiko is a brand renowned for its accessible and robustly built automatic watches, which can be picked up for as little as £150.
For slightly more, historic diving watch brand Doxa’s Sub 200 is about as good as it gets for under £1,000. Further up the food chain, Breitling, Tudor and Tag Heuer make some excellent options in the £2,000 – £5,000 range. Above that you’ve got your Rolexes, IWCs, Vacheron Constantins and all the rest.
Go For A Goodyear Welt (Or Similar)
You buy a pair of shoes, you wear them for a year (maybe two or three if you’re lucky), they wear out, you retire them or throw them in the trash. Generally speaking, that’s the life cycle of your average piece of footwear, but if you upgrade to a properly made pair from a reputable brand, you’ll be getting better quality, and therefore more wear, out of them.
A hallmark of quality in the shoemaking world is the production technique known as Goodyear welting. This refers to the way the sole is stitched onto the upper, making the shoe more durable and easier to repair. Any footwear with a Goodyear welt can be resoled indefinitely, until the uppers give out. This means you could potentially get 10, 20 or 30 years worth of wear from your shoes, as opposed to one or two.
This type of construction is a good marker of quality, so chances are a Goodyear-welted shoe or boot is going to look a lot better than its lesser counterpart too. Some key brands to check out include Grenson, John Lobb, R.M. Williams, Red Wing and Crockett & Jones.
Cashmere > Lambswool
Knitwear is one of the cornerstones of any well-stocked wardrobe, but it’s not all cut from the same cloth. Your average high-street pullover or cardigan is probably made from lambswool, which is affordable and durable, but can be itchy and a little rough too.
Cashmere is far more expensive, but that’s because it’s superior in almost every way. It’s softer, it’s warmer and it looks better, all of which makes it perfect for upgrading your day-to-day looks.
And if you don’t want to splash out on something as pricey as a cashmere sweater, you could always go for a scarf instead.
Buy Japanese Denim
Jeans might have been born in the USA, but they were perfected in Japan. Nippon is denim’s spiritual home, and it’s where some of the best-quality stuff is made. A proper pair of jeans cut from heavyweight Japanese fabric will be vastly superior to what you’d get from your average mall brand or even designer label, particularly when it comes to build quality and longevity.
Bear in mind, shopping for proper denim can be a confusing affair so be sure you know your warps from your wefts and your sanforized from your unsanforized before pulling the trigger. If in doubt, check out our guide to raw denim.
Don’t Cheap Out On T-Shirts
It can be tempting to splurge on the exciting stuff and let basics become an afterthought, but it’s worth remembering that garments such as T-shirts are your sartorial foundation, so they set the tone for everything else. With that in mind, one very easy way you can elevate your outfits is to spend a little more on these seemingly simple everyday essentials.
TV’s The Bear recently brought high-quality white tees back into the spotlight, and we think that’s a good thing. Yes, you can get a T-shirt for next to nothing, but what’s the fit like, how does the fabric feel, does it drape well on the body?
Spending a bit more gets you a better garment that will look and feel more premium, and ultimately upgrade your looks.
Proper Leather Luggage
We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve seen a great outfit ruined by a terrible bag. What’s the point of spending all that money on a suit just to sling a tattered old Nike holdall over your shoulder?
Instead, invest in a proper bag – the sort that’ll last you for life. We’re talking about something durable yet refined, made from good quality leather (or leather-trimmed canvas) and built to stand the test of time.
Take a look at Bennett Winch, Dunhill and Carl Friedrik for some solid options.
Invest In Your Outerwear
Buy a well-made, versatile coat and it will serve you well. You’ll be able to throw it on with anything and everything, and it has the potential to last your entire life. Importantly, a well-made coat will look great too, which is great news for your sartorial upgrade.
There are thousands of outerwear styles to choose from, but a classic wool overcoat is one of the safest bets. It’s a silhouette with a proven track record of timelessness, and it can be successfully styled with anything from sweatpants to suits.
Makes Friends With Your Local Tailor
Quality is important, but fit is everything. It doesn’t matter what a garment is made from, how well put together it is or where it was crafted – if it doesn’t fit right, it will never look good. So what can you do? Buy everything bespoke? Of course not. It would be nice, but you’d soon run out of money, so a better option is to have adjustments carried out by a skilled tailor as and when they’re required.
Knowing a good tailor means you can buy stuff right off the peg and have it fit like a glove. Best of all, minor alterations like waistband reductions and sleeve shortening are very affordable, so you can have a wardrobe filled with pieces that look like they were made to measure, for a fraction of the price.