Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the wider world.
This season, fashion pulled a fast one. Dopamine dressing? Serotonin-seeking maximalism? Aughts bodycon? We don’t know her. Instead, trends were out and wardrobe-building was in; on the runways, stealth wealth reigned in a way it hasn’t since the glory days of Phoebe Philo (who, appropriately enough, will be making her return to fashion this fall).
While the covetable fall 2023 clothes we saw won’t hit stores anytime soon, we can already see the aesthetic in action on a longtime practitioner of minimalism, Gwyneth Paltrow, as she navigates the most stealth-wealth court case possible (namely, one that’s ski collision-related). The back-and-forth on the stand has a riveting banality—with bombshells including the fact that Paltrow is just under 5’10” and that she doesn’t consider Taylor Swift to be a close friend—but the style has without a doubt been the biggest takeaway.
Meme-makers and fashion mood boarders everywhere must be thanking their lucky stars that the courtroom goings-on are televised, because Paltrow is giving a master class in the style Max Berlinger has dubbed “low-key rich bitch.” A perfectly rolled-up white turtleneck sweater and Smythson notebook? Immaculate blond waves that are more like ripples? Gold statement jewelry, a bone broth-hued tote, and a slim-cut gray blazer accessorized with the requisite green juice? It doesn’t get more LKRB. Paltrow even nodded to her power color, green, with an olive coat, evoking immediate associations to Great Expectations in anyone who follows ’90s fashion Instagram.
Fashionista has tabulated her fashion credits, which include quiet-luxury brands like Celine, (possibly) The Row, and, of course, her own G. Label. But the look is less about branding than WASPy restraint, a territory Paltrow has been tilling for decades now. She comes by it honestly—it’s in her bones. (Even her ski outfit, she claimed on the stand, is one she’s owned for years; she said she dresses to blend in on the slopes.) Chic ski gear and tennis whites have proliferated since the pandemic, and old-money aesthetic feels like the antidote to the look-at-me, trend-enthralled world of TikTok. Fashion’s ongoing fascination with women like Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Princess Diana and the stealth-wealth looks on Succession has only begun to burn. In an era of watered-down luxury, there’s a fascination with the idea of an innate style that you can’t buy. And Paltrow is its embodiment.
The courtroom can be almost as heightened a fashion hothouse as the runway or red carpet, as plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses try to walk the uneasy tightrope of looking stylish but not superficial, trustworthy but not dowdy, tasteful but not ostentatious. No wonder Anna Delvey’s courtroom looks got their own Instagram account, Winona Ryder’s Marc Jacobs wardrobe is still a touchstone, and Cardi B followed up her many designer moments in court with a panoply of community service fashions. If designers are, like the rest of us, tuning in to Court TV, we might well see a new muse for spring 2024.
ELLE Fashion Features Director
Véronique Hyland is ELLE’s Fashion Features Director and the author of the book Dress Code, which was selected as one of The New Yorker’s Best Books of the Year. Her writing has previously appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, W, New York magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Condé Nast Traveler.