On the Social Media Loudness of Quiet Luxury
Every couple of years, the internet finds new ways to discuss the distinction between bad luxury and good luxury. Bad luxury is tacky, it is in your face, it is loud, it is logos everywhere, it is nouveau riche. Good luxury is muted, classy, good quality, elegance, timeless, “you wouldn’t know it is expensive if you saw it”… You know what I mean, right? Lately, a new term has been coined, “quiet luxury”, to promote some good practices when spending money on outrageous things. For example, a $490 Loro Piana baseball cap you saw on the head of Kendall Roy in Succession is “quiet luxury”. To be honest, spending that much money for items no one will notice sounds like a scam, but okay I guess.
Because it was wedding season, this summer I was bombarded by examples of “quiet luxury weddings”. The first that hit my TikTok feed was Sofia Richie’s wedding, but now you also have Emily Mariko’s wedding trying to snatch the small, understated, and mute crown of the “best quiet luxury wedding”. But first, let’s look at a photo of Sofia Richie’s wedding, and then let’s continue this conversation.
Why do people call them “quiet luxury” weddings anyway?
Commentators on Tiktok decided this was quiet because… The bride didn’t wear a lot of jewelry. She had a low bun. She had a tiny muguet bouquet. Elegant makeup. She wore Chanel. Three gowns by Chanel actually. Which is “quiet luxury”, because (follow me on that), she is in striking contrast with the bad example of screaming luxury: the Kardashians of course, Kourtney Kardashian’s wedding basically being a Dolce & Gabanna sponsored event.
As your favorite contrarian here, something grinds my gear, and not only because it sounds like I’ve heard this discussion for years now, and because what makes “quiet luxury” are just random items that we deem classy and elegant at a specific time. Yes, there’s that, but also, when you think of it, quietness is about what you hear, and more specifically, what you don’t hear. Because the whole point of something quiet is that you’re not even supposed to notice it, or even meet the luxury items we are talking about. Especially on TikTok for heaven’s sake! The whole point of this new term is the emphasis on quietness, not sharing too much, not talking too loud. Shutting the f up. So far, these two weddings, Mariko’s and Richie’s, have been shared by the brides themselves in many TikTok videos, not to mention the photos and videos sold to media outlets like Vogue. I don’t want to sound like a quietness fundamentalist, but tell me why those quiet weddings are so loudly shared on the internet.
Basically, “quiet” is not about how you share your wedding online, and never if you even share it. Why does “quiet luxury” seem to apply to every tiny bit of consumption, from low buns to nail polish, but not to social media usage?
Why be so loud about being quiet? Richie and Mariko make me think of the upper-class merchants painted by Franz Hals, all in black to show their Protestant sobriety. They are rich and powerful, they have asked Hals to show it, but they are still all wearing black, so we have to think of them as dignified and refined.
Signaling wealth with social media privacy
There seems to be something ridiculous with sharing your life online, something weirdly vulgar about it. I wonder why I have this opinion engraved in my brain. And I post a lot, so you must imagine the self-conscious cringe I get each time I post an Instagram story. The perfect quiet luxury girl would have a private Instagram account with thirty followers maximum where she would post blurry pictures that only a few friends would understand because the caption is three words put there just to sound even more cryptic.
Why does not sharing your life online look classier than sharing? Being overtly private on social media can signal a couple of things, first of all, how your life is so rich and full of excitement, that you don’t even have time or interest to share on social media. Who has time to post when they’re trekking in the Alps, partying at Berghain, or cruising on a yacht? Or: getting married and being on their honeymoon? You can leave the rest to the imagination: are you just chilling at home reading a Colleen Hoover book, or at an event hosted by a scary secret organization, Eyes Wide Shut style?
The second reason would be to show how social media is actually useless to you, because you have access to other platforms, like publishing houses, traditional media like AD, Vogue, or Harpers Bazaar… You don’t need democratic tools like social media platforms when you have exclusive tools like traditional media outlets at your disposal. Do you want to share your new home decoration with the world? Architectural Digest’s house tour is here for you! Social media is not only a democratic tool but also a land of opportunity: we have been fed stories of regular people finding an audience, brand deals and wealth just by the relatability of their content. But the quiet luxury social media user doesn’t even need the opportunity these platforms give to people with a significant following. Sponsored deals? What are those?
The third reason I could think of is signaling the need for protection. The Internet is a scary place! And privacy is a luxury nowadays: you have to separate yourself from the rest of the angry plebes. Not posting helps you protect your image and the risk of looking ridiculous, dumb, or just not that interesting. It also shows how you need to keep your life private to avoid jealousy, getting your jewels robbed during Fashion Week like Kim K… or getting kidnapped like we’re back in the seventies.
To post, or not to post, that is the question
Of course, weddings are a tricky business: more often than not they are made to be shared online, because, why not share the most beautiful and joyful event in your life? And by the way, did you know you can hire a social media content creator for your special day? I don’t want to sound like I am creating a good manner book for wannabe quiet luxury people. Post however it suits you, just don’t post your ID card, your address, or pictures of your kids in the public eye and you’ll be fine. Maybe you will be loud and cringe, but you will be free.