Just as creatives rebelled from 1950s consumerism with the rise of pop art, the Sheinification of everything we buy in recent years was always meant to usher in the era of “old money”, “quiet luxury”, and other names for wearing mostly beige. In all seriousness, the “old money” aesthetic has dominated TikTok as a natural consequence of our desperation for true quality – while neon green Y2K straps dominate the set of “The Idol” and our prescription bags rip through the tissue-thin paper bag we just paid $0.50 for in the CVS parking lot, it’s comforting to imagine feeling actual care was taken in producing the goods we use.
With that in mind, there are some pieces that truly never go out of style, and the institutionally wealthy ensure these timeless designer pieces are in their repertoire. So get your Blair Waldorf on and complete your capsule wardrobe with the collection below to know you’ve really made it:
The Cartier Tank is probably the most well known designer watch, and like T. Swift, it’s been through eras. While there are more prolific choices for men today, in Hollywood history men and women both sported Tanks with abandon, including Rudolph Valentino, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, and Warren Beatty. Cary Grant even sported a Tank in the classic North by Northwest. The ladies aren’t left out: Greta Garbo, Talulah Bankhead, Michelle Obama, and Princess Diana all adored their tanks. The decidedly new-money Kim Kardashian even bought a 1962 Cartier Tank owned by Jackie Kennedy Onassis at auction in 2021 for ~$380,000.
Tanks come in a variety of styles: the original Tank Louis Cartier (pictured), Must de Cartier Tank, Tank Francaise and Tank Americaine top the list.
Burberry Trench Coat
This list wouldn’t be complete without the Burberry trench – it fits perfectly because, while an exposed swatch of Nova Check is certainly iconic, it’s not drowning in logo print and at a distance, you might even mistake it for a midrange trench. But the quality is what makes the additional investment worth it. British soldiers eponymously wore the coats in World War I, and with 180 painstaking stitches in the collar alone, their craftmanship is beyond compare.
Styles include the midlength Chelsea, Kensington, full-length Sandringham, and more – and every celeb from Billie Eilish to Sophia Loren to Scarlett Johansson has been seen in one. Like the Tank, these coats have unisex appeal, and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca helped put trenches on the map for men and women both. Get yours and layer in style.
Hermes Kelly bag
I can hear my fellow fashion victims howl, “the Kelly? But what about the Birkin?” A Birkin is certainly an iconic bag, but remember that we’re talking about old money. Sure, they own a Birkin or two – but everything else being equal, old money folks will pick the “quieter” form of luxury in the Kelly bag, which, while similarly priced and emblematic of fashion itself, doesn’t scream as loudly as the amply sized Birkin. The Kelly may have more vintage fame – the Birkin’s notoriety is quite literally newer.
How did we come to know the Kelly? Well, the Princess of Monaco herself Grace Kelly was photographed holding the demure bag in front of her belly to hide a budding pregnancy.
There are many styles of Kelly today – the Kelly Depeches and the Kelly Picnic are two prominent ones – but remember here that your goal is classic, timeless, archetypal – embodying all that we wish ourselves and our fashion to be. For me, that does not include wicker.
One of my favorite Kelly moments in pop culture history came in Le Divorce, a film where the bag herself plays a pivotal role. Check it out!