I have been reading about old money and I have been fascinated with their mindset. And I learned one very important lesson: elegance and gracefulness is not about me. I look at the old money aesthetic to figure out how I want other people to see me. But that is the completely wrong approach. Old money does not do that. The reason for old money to dress well is not because they want to be seen. It is because they don’t want to stand out. They dress well and always appropriately, because old money aims to be a pleasure to be around without drawing attention. They do this in a number of ways: They dress and behave well. They have mastered the art of conversation. Their goal is not to influence how people think about them. Their aim is to make the people they meet feel better about themselves. That is an important distinction. And one that truly makes or breaks a gentleman or a lady.
The most interesting part however is: When we aim to get better at making people feel great about themselves, we essentially aim to become better people. No, we don’t have to wear understated clothing, to be good people. No, we do not need to subscribe to the old money way of doing things. But I think if we are trying to become not only better people, but also happier people, going the old money route is a very good choice. No, not everyone coming from old money is a good person, nor are they all happy. But I do think exploring their mindset can help us. Even if we don’t end up enjoying the old money mindset, it can still broaden our horizon.
One other reason why old money is happier, than us average people is not the fact that well, they have money. It is the fact that they don’t buy into trends. They aren’t easy to sell an idea to. In part that is because they grew up with tradition and standards, that would support them. But also because they are well educated. And most importantly: because they don’t buy things or do things to impress anyone. In that sense they don’t dress for other people. They dress to be comfortable. And of course to make other people comfortable as well. They are nice to look at. But not because they want to impress anyone, but because that is how they and others will be most comfortable. It improves their quality of life. That is why in many old money circles modesty imporant. We don’t want to be showing so much skin, that someone else becomes uncomfortable.
This also explains why they stay away from anything flashy. Impressing other people is not important to them, and even more than that: how can one develop a personal brand, when one has someone else’s logo slapped all over their clothes? In addition to that, what if they meet someone who is not as wealthy and cannot afford such brand labeled clothing? They will run the risk of making that person feel uncomfortable, which is unacceptable.
Taking how other people feel into consideration never means that we cannot be ourselves. Being ourselves should mean being interesting and witty. Not being loud and obnoxious. This should be obvious, but many people think that being ourselves requires being bold and very loud on what you like and don’t like. But that is not true. Being ourselves means not trying to prove anything to anyone. Which is just another way of saying “not trying to impress anyone”.
That is also why old money is happier, than other people: they focus on what truly adds to their quality of life. They know how to carry themselves and how to have a conversation that makes their conversation partner feel good about themselves. They know what they like and they are educated on a great deal of topics. But everything else is just noise to them. They do not try to impress. They just pursue what makes them happy. And that I believe is the lesson we can all learn from them.