However glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders.

from F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (Chapter VIII) on Rap Genius

Meaning

Gatsby is promised wealth, but does not have it just yet. Wealth is more than social status, It also relates to a person’s past. Gatsby is “without a past” or in other words, he doesn’t come from old wealth. People who are from new wealth are extravagant with their money because they are trying to “make history” for their future family. What happened before the wealth is no longer relevant. Gatsby, in this paragraph, is having problems with hiding that he isn’t from old wealth like Daisy. He doesn’t fit “his uniform” or the lifestyle just yet.

The “invisible cloak of his uniform” also refers to his status as a soldier. Due to this Daisy could not tell that he was not from Old Money. The uniform disguised his past and his status.

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