We hear a lot lately about the concept of quiet luxury, the understated look focused on subtle elegance and sophistication, which makes a point of wearing high-quality, unshowy, and unbranded designer pieces, in a way that whispers élite and class but keeps mum about the eye-popping price tags. At a first glance, quiet luxury seems to be just another fashion moment, meant to enable the mega-rich of this world to enjoy their wealth and spoils in stealth mode, untroubled by any ethical or moral concerns.
And yet, mindful of high-end craftsmanship and timeless quality over flashy logo branding, quantity, and fleeting trends, quiet luxury speaks of muted tones, softer minimalism, unostentatious confidence, and good old-fashioned discretion. It’s not about what’s cool or hot but the grace and seduction of things that are made to last. Not a fad, but a lifestyle. To me, quiet luxury is the perfect modern illustration of Coco Chanel’s core belief: ‘Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.’ It’s a mindset for living in self-respect in every aspect of our life, not only – or perhaps, more in line with the times we live in, not necessarily – in our fashion choices. Remarkably enough, once we try it, we learn that certain everyday choices could be exactly that – quiet luxury. And every time we pay attention to what truly matters and listen to what’s not being said, premium basics of our living come to us naturally, at a surprisingly low price point.
I don’t know about you, but I take most of my cues and clues in life from the books and movies I love so much, which feed my spirit and soul. I reckon with their message in earnest, no matter whether it’s one of hope, coping, and reassurance, or just another writing on the wall. On this matter, I feel like the last six months exposed me not only to the yo-yo emotions humanity experiences in its post-pandemic existential crisis, but also to the unavoidable question posed by all this noisy turmoil of loss, anguish, loneliness, and artificiality: How can we survive it? How can we find again our meaning and purpose, see the light of what matters, and recognize the bliss of those who make us whole? The only answer I got constantly is simple yet unmistakable – the most important thing in our life, the one that helps us overcome nearly anything, is family and friends, and not for all of us necessarily in this order. As it happens, it’s an answer that resonates deeply with me, for it sorts out my private quest for quiet luxury in an emotional language that I was born knowing.
When it comes to time – the most precious and elusive luxury, above all – the one spent with family or friends is by far my ideal perception of quiet luxury. Think summer vacation, for instance. What other time could be better suited for (or offer more generously) the things and moments you enjoy for yourself, not display for the approval or envy of others? Summer with your loved ones – the time that always seems to stand still, when laziness finds respectability, as they say, and slowing down ceases to be considered a moral failing. There’s no other quiet luxury worth dreaming of, really, when you can rest your head on a friend’s shoulder, under a palm tree that gently filters the sunlight, and relax into the summer breeze, free from the abrasive restlessness of the whole wide world.
With this in mind, I was not at all surprised by what I saw while perusing the runway pictures of the leisurewear summer trends: a bright, unfussy though well-made sophistication, marked by styles that look eccentric in the best possible way. Classic swimwear, more eco-friendly than ever, yet made with high-end fabrics, meant to last longer than one season, points to cozy but polished confidence as the prerequisite approach. The de luxe vibe is given off by muted staples that don’t shout about their relevance, or for that matter provenance, but rather subtly hint at exquisite artistry of details and high-end minimalism.
This year’s swimwear trends leave far behind the normcore sexy string bikinis or sporty one-pieces, moving on to vintage-lingerie-inspired bikini tops, royalty-worthy ruffles dignifying balconette or bandeau silhouettes, bashful high-waist bikinis, long-sleeve swimsuits, and budding flowers or rosettes on side-ties. The basics are undeniably first-rate: classy colors, soft fabrics, meticulous tailoring, and perfectly balanced inspiration between retro and avant-garde.
It will be easy to remember the summer of 2023 by the omnipresent simple white tank, which absolutely carries the day of this warm season in all imaginable pairings, conventional and experimental alike. Immaculate white is followed close in trends by baby blue, hot pink, floral, greenery and water shades, sparkly tan, and earthy hues from sand to clay to terracotta, all of which pop beautifully against any skin tone.
Textures are soft – think seersucker, towel, or lurex, ruched for an extra-comfy ripple-like effect, or ethereal – gauzy dresses, flouncy gypsy skirts, silk lace sarongs, chiffon tanks and wraps. Tailoring is discreet but with a strong identity, making the most of each summer styling opportunity.
Asymmetric, one-shoulder neckline, the season’s most fashionable trend for tops and dresses, is also found in swimwear designs, both in one-piece swimsuits and bikini tops. Skirt sets, both Cayman-style and micro mini skirt, work wonders for any silhouette with the perks and benefits the style offers – it’s great for a little extra coverage when you are showing some cheek, it’s adjustable, and it can be layered over your bikini bottoms or one-piece suit to turn your beach look into a whole outfit.
Lingerie-inspired swimwear brings the bedroom to the beach via swimsuits with lace overlays, corset-like ties, bows on the straps, or underwire lining, but they do just fine in the water, as well as between sheets. Now, if that’s not ‘quiet luxury’, I don’t know what is. As one of the most obvious indicators of quiet luxury seems to be the way you act – much more than what you have or what you wear – this sensual trend is perfect for low-key luxe women who know how to make an entrance and a statement. The same goes for the ruffles all-around trend, which may be considered a bit extravagant for bathing suits, but definitely makes a beach vacation a whole lot more fun.
The ‘70s are back in an overarching retro trend, with lively Hawaiian, paisley, and psychedelic florals, flare jeans, crochet or tube tops, and breezy bell sleeves, paired with strappy sandals and the head-scarves or Studio 54-style turbans of the peace-out era.
Thoughtful prints of seasonal flowers, delicate rosettes embellishing swimwear in most unexpected places, and subdued yet intricate floral appliqués or embroideries are summer trends that don’t boast about our sense of style, but send a very fine message about our self-confidence and up-to-date life choices.
If from the runway photos I simply got the 2023 summer fashion styles, the campaign shots told another narrative altogether. What I saw captured in those pictures was not fashion trends, but the silent aesthetic of a mood difficult to describe in just a few words, yet instantly appealing and recognizable: the pervasive mood we all seem to share these days, connected as we are by the invisible links of a whole new, and hard-won, appreciation. It was the one-off mood for life, for joy, for love, for taking the time, for making great memories – the only mood that counts, turned into a lifestyle.
At the end of the day, this is the singular treasure no one can ever take from us and the greatest luxury of all. As for the asking price, guess what, like time itself – is free, but priceless.