Quiet Luxury Has Gone Too Far: Why I Won’t Be Wearing Boat Shoes (But You Should?)


We’ve reached peak quiet luxury. Maybe that happened quickly, when influencers flooded the TL with that stunningly resilient trend striving to convince you that all you need to look like you stepped out of Succession was .. Zara? But now, with Stealth-Wealth and Recessioncore still topics of major interest, strange sartorial ephemera of the rich are emerging as piecemeal trends.

From tennis bracelets (and tennis, but that’s thanks to Challengers) to Van Cleef necklaces, it’s the details that become the most unlikely trends. But it’s all about how you wear them. When paired with Gen Z’s Y2K style, they become emblematic. When paired with a Zara set on a West Village girl, she’s taking it seriously.

But you’re not real if you’ve seen what I’ve seen: an army of Prep school teenagers carelessly tossing on jewelry that costs as much as their private school tuition merely to accessorize their school uniforms. And what shoes did they wear with those Spence skirts and Dalton blazers? Boat shoes, of course.

It’s an evil convergence. Prep’s stubborn return to the zeitgeist — Rowing Blazers, I’ll never forgive you — and Sofia Richie’s impact on the skyrocketing interest in Stealth-Wealth. This means people are hungrier than ever to take a peek into the lives of the rich — then steal into their walk-in closets as big as a football field and try on their clothes.

The Sofia Richie effect

It’s been a year since the iconic Richie-Grainge wedding that sparked the Gen Z obsession with old money. Since that year, we’ve slowly been creeping into territory that sends a chill down my spine.

At first I thought it was just one more microtrend. However, I was soon proven so wrong. Instead of moving on, people everywhere made Sofia Richie their style icon. For good reason — she’s a Virgo, her taste is impeccable. But just like fellow nepo-baby Hailey Baldwin-Bieber’s wedding, the stylish ceremony sparked a chain reaction I never could have predicted.

Let’s use Hailey as a case study. After she wore Nike Air Force Ones to her reception, the shoe was ubiquitous. Sorority houses didn’t know peace for years. And it didn’t stop there. Signature pieces of Hailey’s off-duty style became biblical references. Her leather jackets, baggy jeans, and Clean Look vibe were everywhere.

But once a Supreme dies, a new queen must take her place. Sofia Richie answered the call.

While her so-called “old money” looks are actually new — new and custom Chanel, she’s become the face of Stealth-Wealth. It’s worth mentioning that Sofia Richie is a nepo baby whose money and prestige comes from her father, Black pop singer Lionel Richie. She’s not the old money heiress this trend is supposed to harken back to — which, to me, feels subversive.

Nevertheless, the masses are eating it up. Sofia’s transformation from trendy party girl to Stealth-Wealth wife and mother is inspiring to all of us. Though most will never grace the rooms with those who are decked out in Loro Piana and Brunello, we can wear a cashmere (blend) sweater and pretend.

This summer, the Stealth-Wealth status symbol is a surprising one: the boat shoe.

Why boat shoes?

Think about it: what says privilege like owning a boat and constantly sailing or a lake or on the sea? Boat shoes hint at an old-money lifestyle. They say you’re always prepared to be onboard a sailboat, yacht or sloop, that you have a tight jaw, and frequent clubs and restaurants that don’t allow sneakers, and you went to a prep school that has a biz-caz dress code.

I can tick the last box, which is why this trend makes me physically ill. At the sight of boat shoes — Sperry topsiders in particular — I’m transported back to high school. And no one wants that.

I can almost see the hoard of preppy kids in salmon garb and monogrammed backpacks, with their Sperrys as the cherry on top of their Brooks Brothers and Vineyard Vines outfit combinations.

Now, the fashionable set have taken the shoe over. Pairing them with trendy prep-inspired brands like Rowing Blazers and Aime Leon Dore, they’re taking back Prep.

Unlike hipster yuppies who took over Williamsburg and Portland in 2013, this isn’t playfully-ironic. It’s serious. You’ll see boat shoes with summer dresses, Gen Z oversized denim and carpenter pants. What an unlikely pairing — workwear and Prep, the opposite of workwear. Talk about high-low juxtaposition.

How to style boat shoes for summer?

If you’re planning on styling boat shoes for the summer, keep this in mind. Styling boat shoes correctly means achieving a balance between embracing new-age Prep without looking like a Prep school dweeb.

Do not go full quiet luxury with them. Put down the striped sweater and definitely don’t drape it around your shoulder. You’ll look like you’re cosplaying as someone in an ivy league a cappella group.

Instead, pair unexpected styles and aesthetics with boat shoes. They’re this summer’s cowboy boot. You’ll see them with flowy white maxi skirts and threadbare vintage tees. You’ll see them with ripped denim and oversized pants. You’ll definitely see them at the US Open, but you’ll also see them in the club. Don’t believe me? If the office siren aesthetic made it to the club, so will this.

The one benefit of this trend: unlike many other microtrends, boat shoes are usually made to be worn to death. They’re practical, comfortable, and easy to slip on while still being dressy. They’re a less casual option of Birkenstock Bostons and a counterpart to the loafer trend. No wonder Gen Z-loved brands like Miu Miu made their own and Saks is selling their distressed leather boat shoes for $925 a pair! Outrageous.

As they grow more high fashion, it’s a clear sign that boat shoes are here to stay. But they’re not your grandmother’s boat shoes, not my prep-school nightmare. They’re something else entirely. It just depends how you style them.

Whether you’re in love with quiet luxury or eager to experiment with the next trend, you can wear boat shoes with any aesthetic. I just won’t be joining you. God forbid, if LL Bean boots are in for fall, I’m abandoning everything and giving it all up for a beige capsule wardrobe.

For now, I’ll watch timidly as everyone dons a shoe I disavowed in my youth — and they’ll look good while doing it.

Originally Posted Here

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