How does one identify someone with significant wealth or determine if they hail from a privileged background? There are certain behaviors and traits that signal an individual is not only prosperous but accustomed to such a lifestyle.
The question, “What makes it obvious that someone is upper class?” was posted online and elicited a number of intriguing responses.
Effortless Elegance: No Need for Proof
The line between pretending to be upper class and truly belonging to this social echelon is often quite clear. People who are genuinely upper class don’t strive to flaunt their affluence; they don’t feel the need to boast, and their elegance is effortless.
For example, the original poster shared a story about a friend who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars yet drives an older, though well-kept Volvo, and wears a Timex watch. When someone at a party suggested he should buy a Rolex to appear wealthy, he replied simply, “I am wealthy.” This person donates millions to charity annually and feels no need to wear expensive watches to project wealth — because he is genuinely affluent.
As another user put it, “Those who are truly upper class won’t brag about their social status. Boasting about social standing is a behavior associated with the nouveau riche.”
Standing Tall: The Dignified Posture of the Privileged
One user observed that the wealthy individuals she’d encountered possessed a commanding and upright walk. She noted that one could often infer a person’s wealth from their entrance into a room — their confidence is palpable even before they utter a word.
She stated, “Good posture. Upper-class individuals often stand perfectly straight and walk with an elegant stride.”
Beyond maintaining good posture, the affluent are mindful of their image, which is reflected in their attire. One user noted, “The clothing that wealthy people wear is usually of excellent quality, perfectly tailored, and stylish. Their outfits flatter their body type.”
Social Graces: The Warmth and Courtesy of the Upper Class
One commentator noticed that upper-class individuals often make an effort to engage in small talk with virtually anyone. They attended an affluent school, and they found the most sociable individuals were those at the top of the social hierarchy.
They explained, “Upper-class individuals are capable of striking up casual conversations with virtually anyone. It’s a vital skill that they’ve developed by attending numerous formal events.”
At such events, genuinely affluent individuals mingle and form connections; they don’t isolate themselves simply because they’re unfamiliar with other attendees.
Another user added, “People who are truly upper class are kind and considerate, and don’t flaunt their wealth when interacting with others. It’s just a part of who they are, not something to be flaunted or boasted about.”
Masterful Manners: The Impeccable Dining Etiquette of the Upper Class
One user pointed out that affluent people tend to have impeccable table manners. She asserted that this was a surefire way to identify a person’s social status.
She said, “Sitting upright, refraining from resting elbows on the table, knowing which utensil to use, keeping one’s voice down. If you want an immediate clue, look to see whether they place their napkin on their lap (the polite action) or leave it on the table (considered rude) as soon as they sit down for a meal.”
Experience Seekers Over Material Collectors
Upper-class individuals often spend their money on experiences that many in the middle class might not value. One user explained, “For the upper class, the focus is on experiences rather than possessions. They are often well-traveled, have pursued internships abroad, participate in various extracurricular activities, attend summer camps, and are not afraid to take risks.”
Another user from a wealthy background shared, “Our parents regularly took us on week-long, month-long, and even summer-long excursions to places that interested them. We learned through experience. This mentality stuck with me, and even in college, I chose to spend on experiences rather than material items.”
The Pursuit of Extraordinary Knowledge
Children of affluent parents often receive education beyond the standard curriculum, which is why they typically have additional skills to complement their formal education. It’s not unusual for them to play musical instruments, ride horses, speak foreign languages, or participate in sports.
One user from a wealthy family shared, “We all took music and voice lessons from the age of five. We learned horseback riding, skiing, and sailing.”
An Appetite for a Rich and Nutritious Diet
Most upper-class individuals prioritize consuming healthy food. They understand that one’s well-being is largely influenced by what one consumes.
One user shared this observation: “I often distinguish people by their diet. Most upper-class individuals comprehend that health is wealth, and the first line of defense against health problems is a good diet.”
In addition to having a focus on healthy eating, the wealthy are typically adventurous and open-minded, especially when it comes to trying new cuisines. One user stated, “A person who is hesitant to try new food or has never tried foreign cuisine is usually not upper class.”
The Art of the Freebie: Upper-Class Frugality
Contrary to what some might believe, the wealthy enjoy getting things for free. They appreciate the opportunity to save money and find satisfaction in getting a good deal.
One user shared, “Upper-class people typically use reward points, credit card points for travel, club membership benefits, and connections to avoid paying for things. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s nothing wealthy people appreciate more than complimentary items.”
Concurring with the previous comment, another user added, “From my experience with affluent individuals, I’ve noticed they are extremely conscious of the value of money and are usually frugal. They tend to splurge only on one or two passions or indulgences.”
The Art of Understated Luxury
Upper-class individuals often favor a quieter form of luxury. They may wear high-end clothing, but they usually opt for subtle pieces rather than flashy logos. As one commenter noted, “No Gucci handbags, no Jimmy Choo shoes, no Salvatore Ferragamo logos. If pushed, maybe a small crocodile logo on your polo shirt. But that’s it.”
Another commenter added, “It’s generally seen as unclassy to wear anything that blatantly displays the name or logo of a brand. That’s a characteristic of nouveau riche behavior.”
Silent Wealth: The Upper Class’s Quiet Approach to Finance
While they are fond of conversation and social interaction, upper-class individuals seldom discuss financial matters unless it pertains to business.
One user observed, “They don’t discuss finances unless you’re involved in a business transaction with them.”
Adding to this, another user noted, “When they discuss money, they speak about investments, not purchases.”
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Featured Image Credit: Nejron Photo/Shutterstock.
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.