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Old Money is an aesthetic based around a wealthy, classic style. Old Money refers to people who have inherited their wealth instead of working for it. In the United States, Old Money is associated with WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) culture, and in Europe, Old Money is associated with titles of nobility.


History

Old Money is most prominent in countries were there was no aristocracy but instead an elite social class held a status nearly equal to an aristocracy.

In the United States, the oldest Old Money families are the ones which can trace their ancestry back to the passengers on the Mayflower. Other families are considered Old Money when they can trace their ancestry back to the founders of a prestigious town such as New York City, for example the fictional van der Woodsens in Gossip Girl, who are descendants of Dutch settlers in New York.

The Social Register, a list of the wealthiest and most influential American families was first published in 1887. Some major cities have their own versions of the Social Register. In recent times, it has become less of an indicator of Old Money pedigree.

In the 1930s, Old Money families traced their wealth back to at least the American Revolution. Those who had gained wealth around the time of the American Civil War and during the Gilded Age, were not yet considered Old Money. Today, families whose wealth dates back only to the Gilded Age are considered Old Money.

Other terms

Blue Blood is a term used to refer to people descended from nobility. Although not all Old Money families have Blue Blood, a family with Blue Blood is more likely to be Old Money than not.

In 1844, the phrase The Upper Ten was used to refer to the 10,000 richest people in New York City. During the Gilded Age, The Four Hundred was used to refer to the four hundred wealthiest families in New York City. The list included the Astors and the Vanderbilts.

Many Old Money families are also WASPs (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants).

Location based terms

The Boston Brahmin, First Families of Virginia, and Old Philadelphians are location based terms for Old Money groups in the US. They refer to the Old Money families from Boston, Virginia and Philadelphia, whose ancestors were the founders of that respective city or state.

Posh is a term most commonly used in Great Britain to mean a wealthy, upper class person, although the term includes both Old Money and new money. It has spread to other English-speaking locations.

Values

  • image
  • education, with many children attending boarding schools and later Ivy League colleges
  • tradition
  • who a person or family knows

Visual

This aesthetic can be described as very sophisticated and classy. The visuals indict wealth and history.

  • mansions
  • Hermes Birkin
  • fresh flowers
  • horses
  • tennis courts
  • large swimming pools
  • taxidermy animal heads
  • antique cars
  • paintings of ancestors

Fashion

The key is understated elegance. The clothes may appear plain or boring, but they are high quality. Old Money fashion is sometimes confused with Prep, but the color palette is more muted and black and purple are used.

Clothing

  • Navy blazers
  • Tailored suits
  • Tailored shirts and blouses
  • Turtlenecks
  • Wool coats
  • Trench coats
  • Oxfords
  • Low heeled pumps
  • Pantyhose

Accessories

  • pearl necklaces, earrings, and bracelets
  • designer handbags without logos
  • fascinators
  • hats
  • antique brooches
  • cufflinks
  • signat rings
  • dark sunglasses
  • silk or cashmere scarves
  • leather gloves

Home Decor

  • porcelain figures
  • Chinese vases
  • silver bowls
  • antique furniture
  • oil paintings
  • Persian rugs
  • vases with flowers
  • antique clocks
  • marble busts
  • flocked wallpaper
  • fireplaces

Notable People

United States

  • The Kennedy Family (JFK, RFK, Jackie, JFK Jr., Maria Shriver, etc.)
  • The Kelly Family (Grace Kelly, John B. Kelly Sr., etc.)
  • The Vanderbilt Family (Gloria Vanderbilt, Anderson Cooper, Timothy Olyphant, etc.)
  • The Hilton Family (Paris Hilton, Nicholai "Nicky" Hilton, etc.)
  • The Hearst Family (Patty Hearst, Lydia Hearst, etc.)

Media

Media focusing on Old Money tends to contrast the wealth of the lifestyle with darker themes like murder, tragic deaths, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse. Characters often have difficultly expressing real emotions due to not being shown the love of a parent during childhood.

Books

  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor by Tad Friend
  • Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield
  • Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter
  • The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

Documentary

  • Grey Gardens (1975)

Movies

  • All the Money in the World (2017)
  • Beatriz at Dinner (2017)
  • Blue Jasmine (2013)
  • High Society (1956)
  • Io sono l'amore (I Am Love) (2009)
  • Metropolitan (1990)
  • Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
  • Poor Little Rich Girl (1987)
  • Rebecca (1940)
  • Thoroughbreds (2017)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Music

  • Super Rich Kids by Frank Ocean
  • Champagne Problems by Taylor Swift
  • The Last Great American Dynasty by Taylor Swift
  • Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Ray

TV Shows

  • Altes Geld (2015-)

Fictional Characters

  • Julia Pendleton from Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
  • The Buchanans in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Stafford family in Kitty Foyle (1940)
  • The Sheffields and C.C. Babcock in The Nanny (1993-1999)
  • The Malfoy family in the Harry Potter series
  • Emily and Richard Gilmore, and the Huntzberger family in Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
  • Boris from Royal Pains (2009-2016)
  • The Voorhees family in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-2019)

Gallery


References

Resources

Books

  • The Old Money Book by Byron Tully
  • Old Money: The Mythology of Wealth in America by Nelson W. Aldrich Jr.
  • Class: A Guide Through the American Status System by Paul Fussell
  • The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America's First Black Dynasty by Lawrence Otis Graham
  • Debrett's Illustrated Guide To The Canadian Establishment by Peter C. Newman

Crafts

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