Fashion Notes: Sun Valley ‘Billionaire Summer Camp’ Proves Money Can’t Buy You Style

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

All of the nation’s wealthiest rich people convened in Sun Valley, Idaho, for the annual so-called “billionaire summer camp.” But these aren’t the American elite of your grandparents’ generation.

These are, quite possibly, some of the worst dressed folks living among us — surpassing the likes of Lena Dunham. Can you imagine? Gone are the days of the fabulous Gloria Vanderbilt in her Gilded Age townhouse, Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis on the Manhattan streets with her sister Lee Radziwell, or Jerry Hall baring it all in Yves Saint Laurent at Studio 54.

For many of us style connoisseurs, it often feels as though we’re nostalgic for periods that we never experienced. There’s a reason for that and it is that our current fashion outlook is bleak, our elite are ugly, and the culture, to put it bluntly, sucks.

Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Family portrait of the Coopers as they play on a sofa in their home, Southampton, Long Island, New York, March 30, 1972. (Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Lee Radziwill and Jackie Onassis during Sighting After Leaving Performance at Alvin Theatre – May 11, 1970 at Alvin Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

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Model Jerry Hall posing seductively at Groucho’s bar in London, October 23rd 1985. (Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

There is no better example of this than the Sun Valley Resort for the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference that occurred last week. The conference, known as billionaire summer camp, brings the elite of the nation altogether into one place.

They may have money, but their appearance at the conference proves that money can’t buy you style — or sunglasses, for that matter!

Exhibit A is the wealthiest of wealthy men at the conference: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, and Tim Cook. Does it really matter that you have billions if you look this poor? Fashion isn’t about your bank account (some of my favorite pieces are secondhand) but it sure does widen your net of what you can wear.

In this case, it’s clear that there is no self-awareness when it comes to appearances. Whether anyone likes it or not, your appearance truly is a reflection of who you are as a person and the first impression people will have of you.

Gates seems to have a uniform that includes a sweater, slacks, and the same pair of black leather slip-on shoes. I like uniforms. The only problem is that his is fugly. The sweaters don’t fit, they are in the drabbiest of colors, and his pockets are so filled that his pants are pulling from every direction.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and Chair of the Gates Foundation, walks to a morning session during the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 08, 2022 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Then there is Buffett, who literally showed up dressed as a character from Weekend at Bernie’s in a lime shirt covered in lizards with a medical mask. Yes, there are people still wearing layers of paper on their faces. Clown World.

Bloomberg looks as though he heard the conference was in Idaho and figured, “Hmm, a state I’ve never been or care to see — the residents must be lumberjacks!” Flannel fit for your grandmother’s sofa pillows, anyone?

Tim Cook, worth an estimated $2 billion, isn’t so much a bad dresser. It’s more so that he doesn’t seem to understand that he’s one of the biggest businessmen in the world and should dress accordingly. He looks like the least powerful person in the room. No prestige. What a shame.

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

This takes us to Sheryl Sandberg, Anderson Cooper, Gayle King, James Murdoch, Diane von Furstenberg, and her husband Barry Diller.

Sandberg somehow thought it was okay to walk out of her room at the lodge in a monochromatic flesh-toned ensemble. Is this her take on the Kim Kardashian SKIMS aesthetic that Kanye West has made into a brand at Yeezy?

Cooper, the son of Gloria Vanderbilt, really ought to know better. He and Murdoch, instead of coming off as the sons of the most powerful dynasties on the globe, look like 20-year-old boys during rush week hoping to get into a reject Pi Kappa Alpha.

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn Murdoch. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

King looks a mess. There’s no other way to put it. Apparently, she went shopping the week before and found everything in the same lime green shade and threw it all on together — you know, the way a six-year-old dresses.

Furstenberg and Diller are particularly surprising in their choice to dress terribly. Furstenberg is one of the biggest American fashion designers of the last century, known for her wrap dresses. Diller is married to her, so doesn’t that mean you’d be one of the best-dressed folks wherever you go simply because of your proximity to style iconicness?

Apparently not. Furstenberg, well, looks like Furstenberg — that is, someone’s crazy aunt. Diller appears to have an affinity for dressing like an early-aughts skater boy. I guess it could be worse.

Gayle King. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Barry Diller, Chairman and Senior Executive of IAC and Expedia Group, and his wife Diane von Furstenberg. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

There were only a couple of exceptions at the conference. Fashion designer Stacey Bendet, known for her girlishly girly designs at Alice + Olivia, arrived with a wardrobe of floral prairie dresses, cowboy hats, and giant aviators.

I’d have taken a few of her gold chains off but the overall looks are chic, especially her yellow wide brim hat and white leg pants. Of course, it helps that she is undoubtedly the thinnest person at the conference.

Mike Fries, the CEO of Liberty Global, and his wife Michelle Malone-Fries were another exception. His skinny jeans and yellow acetate sunglasses show a subtle sense of style while her plaid shirt dress (possibly by Burberry), woven clutch, and wedge heels are a look that is noticeably thought out yet effortless in every way.

Stacey Bendet. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Stacey Bendet. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Stacey Bendet. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Mike Fries, Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Global, and his wife Michelle Malone-Fries. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) 

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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