As someone who views clothing as purely utilitarian, rather than a bold canvas for self-expression, one of my weirder quirks is that I am curiously fascinated by style trends.

Be it the “coastal grandmother aesthetic” (inspired by elegantly chic matriarchs such as Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep) or the “Y2K revival” (sparking a questionable renaissance of ultra-low-rise jeans and exposed thongs) there is something about this sartorial bandwagon-jumping that I find hugely compelling.

In the deep recesses of my brain, I have a baseless theory that, by making sense of it all, I might somehow solve the enduring riddle of our existence – as if fashion anthropology holds the key to unlocking the kookier nuances of human behaviour.

Invariably, though, I only end up more confused. Go figure. And the latest fad to catch my eye? According to the retailer Karen Millen, Google searches for “quiet luxury”, “stealth wealth” and “old money style” are up by 373 per cent, 334% and 568% respectively in recent weeks.

Read more: Why we all need to spring clean our minds

Intriguingly, this soaring interest is being largely credited to the hit TV show Succession, which has newly returned for its fourth and final series, as well as – perhaps more oddly – coverage of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Utah ski crash trial last month.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with Succession. Regular viewers of the satirical comedy-drama will likely be familiar with the standard uniform of Machiavellian media moguls, the Roy family, and their back-stabbing inner circle.

We are talking sharp tailored suits, crisp shirts, expensive peacoats and flashy watches – or, for an off-duty look, chunky knits, waxed jackets and logo-free baseball caps. All accessorised with plenty of haughty sneers, of course.

Siobhan “Shiv” Roy, played by Sarah Snook, is said to have the most influential style among the characters. Online searches for “Shiv Roy outfits” have risen by 300% over the five years since Succession first aired in 2018.

Fashionistas are also drawing inspiration, it seems, from Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent courtroom battle (where the Hollywood actor and lifestyle guru was found not at fault for a ski slope collision with retired optometrist Terry Sanderson in 2016).

Read more: From UFO fever to ultra-low-rise jeans – welcome to Y2K 2.0

Copious column inches and social media posts have been devoted to the subject, with many obsessing over the star’s outfits – cited as a prime example of a “quiet luxury” wardrobe.

Picture the annual electricity bill for the average UK three-bedroom house and you will be in the rough ballpark of the four-figure sum Paltrow is said to have shelled out for a cream merino-wool polo neck jumper (you can easily imagine Succession’s Shiv Roy wearing the same one).

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Mind you, Paltrow is well worth an anthropological study in her own right. This is a woman who could dine in the fanciest restaurants in the world, yet recently revealed that one of her favourite lunches is “bone broth” – possibly the least joyful thing that anyone would eat by choice.

The hashtag #GwynethPaltrowCourt has close to a million views on the social media platform TikTok, with #QuietLuxury garnering 68.6m views, #OldMoneyStyle racking up 444m views and #OldMoneyAesthetic topping 2.3 billion views.

Still, it begs the question: what is there to gain from the cosplay of appearing wealthy? I am fairly certain that wearing a pricey cashmere cardigan wouldn’t make me any happier than I am rocking a hoodie from the sale bin in Aldi’s middle aisle.

The paradox of coveting “quiet luxury” is that – unless you are truly part of the richest 1% – there is nothing hushed or low-key about it: you are actively seeking external validation.

And if we needed any further proof that fashion is a fickle beast: online searches for “purple bikini” recently surged by 311% worldwide after a new poster for the remake of Disney’s The Little Mermaid was released, according to the retailer Nasty Gal.

Which arguably suggests that some of us never really evolve past being a toddler who points at something in a toy shop window and says: “Want!!!”