The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Fashion Advice: How To Look Rich

Let's face it: No one gets ready in the morning saying, "I want to look poor today." Right?

The truth is we all want to look like we have something—whether it's great taste, impeccable breeding, or a rockin' hot body—but considering the recent surge in luxury goods sales, we'd say most people today want to look rich.

So what makes someone look wealthy? These days, it's anyone's guess...but if higher education has taught us anything, it's what Old Money looks like. This list if far from being exhaustive, but here are a few ways to help you look like you come from Old Money:
  1. Wear classics. It sounds cliche, but by sticking to classics (and that includes modern classics like well-fitted jeans) you'll be well on your way to looking rich. Go for classic fabrics—cotton, cashmere, tweed, wool—while avoiding polyester at all costs. J. Crew, Banana Republic, L.L. Bean, the Gap, even Target are all fair game as long as you stick to classics. Understatement reigns supreme.

  2. Pay attention to grooming. Skin, teeth, hair, nails and toes should all be well-maintained (in that order). Clean, neutral makeup, natural looking highlights and neutral polish manicures (with medium to short length nails) all look rich.

  3. Wear an expensive watch. If you can't afford a classic Cartier or Franck Muller, go for a classic Timex or Swiss Army timepiece.

  4. Wear good shoes, and keep them in good condition. Anything leather or European is good; high-end comfort brands are also very popular, like Tsubos and Campers. If you're a teen, you can wear sneaks and they can get as grungy as you want.

  5. Carry an expensive classic designer handbag. Shop outlets and if necessary. Something leather, nothing flashy, no large visible logos. Fellow rich friends will recognize your bag without having to see the brand.

  6. Wear elegant sunglasses. Again, no gaudy logos are needed. When in doubt, go for classic retro black shades.

  7. Never pay retail. The rich get and stay rich by saving, not spending.

  8. Keep jewelry to a minimun. Diamond studs can be worn daily or with a little black dress.

  9. Skip the tattoos. They're just not rich.

  10. Hang out with rich people. Generally speaking, this is the best way to study and imitate the way they dress, since they typically avoid trends or what you see in magazines and on the Hollywood crowd, and rather create their own understated versions of trends. For example, brightly-colored Lacoste polos, Birkenstocks or the Tiffany 'Bean' may have their moment in the old-money fashion spotlight for a year or so (old-money's version of a trend lasts longer than one season.)

living in an area with a lot of old money (not ours!) i've noticed that real old money drives old cars, wears baggy old jeans and old shoes when in the country (or burbs) and gets good haircuts, not necessarily expensive ones. i'm describing paul newman who lives in westport, ct. although he's not traditionally old money, he's very low key, as opposed to all the nouveaux you see in the ares. also, your remark about the diamond studs is spot on. my neighbor who used to live in greenwich sometimes goes for walks in jeans and diamond studs and they look stunning because they are very nice quality and understatedly elegant. also, old money is not pretentious about fashion and not snobby. they're too rich to care. it's the social climbers who are the worst.
#1 maggie z on 2007-08-26 10:19 (Reply)
Great insights! We like Paul Newman, he's a neat guy who does a lot of good :-)

Right on about the old cars...something like a Mercedes that holds its value well, although we've seen old money driving Volvo station wagons, too. They seem to value practicality.
#1.1 The Budget Babe on 2007-08-26 21:56 (Reply)
Great post. I think anyone can achieve the millionaire or socialite look by sticking with classic styles that fit the body type well. My style icon has always been Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Always stylish but never flashy.
#2 Judy Mi Cha (Homepage) on 2007-08-26 18:24 (Reply)
Good point--the old money set wears clothes that fit them well. Never too tight, but not too loose either :-) The word "modesty" comes to mind...
#2.1 The Budget Babe on 2007-08-26 22:00 (Reply)
... and they don't have multiple piercings or flashy bags with rhinestones. you see a lot of 20-year old coach bags, ferragamo shoes that have been resoled a couple of times, and very rarely anything with a logo. they have enough confidence in themselves where they don't have the need to sport 'in your face' fashion to attract attention to themselves.
#2.1.1 maggie z on 2007-08-27 16:04 (Reply)
Ditto on the Jackie Kennedy Onassis -- so classic and elegant, and she always looked effortlessly stylish. I think understatement's the key. My hubby's from Dallas, and the rich folks there (from old money oil barons to the nouveau riche) are so incredibly tacky. They're all about flaunting their bling -- people drive Bentleys to the grocery store, practically every female over the age of 16 carries a mainstream designer bag with an obnoxiously huge logo, etc. I won't even get into the hair and makeup. Ugh!
#3 cathy (Homepage) on 2007-09-07 15:31 (Reply)
Too funny! We've never been to Dallas (except on a layover), but you've certainly confirmed all the fashion stereotypes that we've heard about that town. (Texas readers, now's your chance to speak up!!)

Frankly, all this logo lust is embarrassing. If you offer an advertiser valuable real estate to promote their brand, usually THEY pay YOU--not the other way around! And yet people shell out hundreds of dollars to carry tacky logo-covered purses that provide free advertising for the seller. It makes no sense.
#3.1 The Budget Babe on 2007-09-08 10:19 (Reply)
This article is very correct. I am NOT trying to brag, but i am rich, thats just a stated fact, and i love going around to websites that teach you stuff like this. This is one of (or maybe THE) BEST website i've been on in a long time. For more information, go to and search 'how to look rich' theres about 3 good ones. Good luck ! Email me anythime ;-)

#4 Emily on 2008-06-29 16:25 (Reply)
hey em its jessica mckinney using my big sisters e-mail and i was jus woundering if u could tips on what kinds of clothes to wear bc i am 9 and i want to be a popstar so i was just woundering if u just u, could give me any tips

thanx Jessica :-)
#4.1 Jessica on 2009-08-05 18:21 (Reply)
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