The super rich – as seen in both TV hit Succession and Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski trial – are now, more than ever, shunning obvious, flashy designer garb in favour of clothing that whispers about their wealth. Here’s everything you need to know about ‘Borecore’.
In case you hadn’t heard, Succession is back – and more on the nose than ever.
Featuring fabulously wealthy characters with definitively un-fabulous personalities, the fourth and final season shows the mega-rich Roy family again demonstrating a preference for subtle, understated fashion choices. At the root of this is a nod to the era of ‘borecore’, namely the super rich shunning bold designer logos and flashy apparel, despite the fact that they could afford every piece without making even a tiny dent into their bank accounts.
This point is made in the first episode of Season 4 at the expense of cousin Greg’s date, who arrives at family patriarch Logan’s birthday party carrying a large, conspicuous checked Burberry tote. Tom cuttingly informs Greg that this is a huge faux pas, saying: “She’s brought a ludicrously capricious bag. What’s even in there? Flat shoes for the subway? Her lunch pail? I mean, Greg, it’s monstrous, it’s gargantuan, you could take it camping”.
This harsh observation emphasises an unspoken rule of the wealthy: avoid flamboyant fashion at all costs.
The trend for ‘quiet luxury’ has been around for years – and goes alongside the old adage ‘money talks, wealth whispers’ – but, as seen in Succession, the über rich are dressing even more simply than ever before, hence the term ‘borecore’.
While people not born into wealth, who’ve made their own money, are often more than happy to wear logo covered clothing and flaunt handbags with gaudy emblems, those who are not nouveau riche wouldn’t dream of displaying their wealth for everyone to see. Obviously, anyway.
Instead, they opt for classic, timeless designs that are of high quality and, above all, look understated.
A favourite choice for fans of ‘borecore’ – or those that can afford it – is the Italian luxury brand Loro Piana. It’s effectively a vastly more pricey version of high street favourite Uniqlo and is very much a ‘if you know, you know’ label, in that it silently expresses old money status to people in the same circles.
It can also be used not just as a message of wealth, but one of approachability and giving an appearance of being a regular person, which is ironic given that the average person couldn’t afford the sky high prices piece of Loro Piana.
One high profile celebrity embracing ‘borecore’ on a very public stage is actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who’s estimated to be worth a huge €184 million. She’s now done fighting a battle in a Utah court over allegedly skiing dangerously and her wardrobe was turning heads this week. She has been dressed throughout in a rather dull, simple manner, but it’s certainly one that comes as a cost – she sported a basic cream Loro Piana roll neck on one occasion that retails for around a staggering €1,385.
Paltrow’s ‘borecore’ looks are stealth wealth to their core. They murmur silently rather than shouting about their lavish origins and, in this case, paint her in a light which suggested she was taking the trial seriously, in a way that flamboyant looks would not. As her outfits looked so basic and rather ordinary, it’s unlikely an average jury member would be able to guess the price tags. Gwyneth was making clever choices in this regard, suggesting to the court that she’s ‘one of them’ despite her high status and millions in the bank.
‘Borecore’ is, at its centre, a soft approach to power dressing that implies to others that the wearer doesn’t need to make a statement – their wealth is implied and they don’t need to worry about attempting to impress anyone.
This has been the case among the European old money elite for years, too.
Take, for instance, the humble Barbour wax jacket which, for a classic model, retails for a slightly more affordable €260 but is a mainstay in the closets of aristocracy and royalty.
The late Queen Elizabeth II wore hers frequently and it was reported that she refused to replace hers after Barbour even offered her a new one for free, saying she’d prefer to re-wax her existing garment. Along with Hunter wellington boots, the wax Barbour jacket is a sign of high class – they both have royal warrants and are objectively rather dull, classic designs with longevity built in, but they’re popular in certain circles for a reason.
Another aspect of why ‘borecore’ is booming is the relatively recent democratisation of luxury.
Many high-end designers offer lower priced – and often logo-covered – pieces to allow people with average incomes to buy into ‘luxury’. It’s perhaps the existence of emblazoned baseball caps and emblem-covered t-shirts which has seen the truly old money community shy away from obvious displays of consumerism, with some thinking the easy availability of ‘luxury’ has caused traditional brands to cheapen their image and lose some exclusivity.
While both Succession is endlessly engaging and the Paltrow trial has captivated, it’s fair to say very few people are watching either of them for the fashion. But, in actual fact, the style choices are one of the most interesting things about both events – and we’ll likely see a boom in ‘borecore’ as a result.