The foundational element of stealth wealth lies in the aesthetic’s inherent exclusivity. The premise of the look, and the people who embody it, centers around wealth signaling to other wealthy people — essentially fashion flexes with diabolically large price tags. There are no labels or outward logos, just the arrogant assumption that only those who belong to the same class will be able to recognize and know the market value of an item. Jonathan Square, Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design, explained to Refinery29, “There would be absolutely nothing wrong with minimalism, but I think it becomes problematic when you attach superiority.”
This is what makes the average person’s pursuit of the aesthetic fundamentally antithetical to the point of the look. Without actually being a wealthy or old moneyed individual which is, let’s face it, the cornerstone of the aesthetic’s believability, any fashion choice intended to help you ‘pass’ as wealthy is inherently fake. This pursuit is also problematic in that it hypes the wealthy as worthy of emulation. From not paying income taxes to collecting monster bonuses while people lose their jobs, worshipping the wealthy as a non-wealthy person feels like an act of self-loathing that makes idols of villains. For instance, if the minimum wage had increased at the same rate as Wall Street bonuses, it would be $61.75 per hour instead of the federal $7.25. Wanting to emulate the aesthetics of this particular socioeconomic class extends beyond an aesthetic ideal and approaches apologist territory.