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How to Look Expensive On A Budget

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Have you ever thought you had to have a closet full of designer pieces and pricey items to look expensive? You may want to reconsider!

Think about red carpet looks for a moment. These looks are almost always from pricey designer collections and yet, many times there are always plenty of contenders for the worst-dressed list.

Even with access to couture gowns and accessories, a good portion of these outfits looks frumpy and even cheap. On the flip side, consider Kate Middleton. The duchess is already considered a classic style icon, yet can often be found in affordable Zara pieces. These items are usually well under $100, yet she makes them look like a million bucks. So, how, you ask?

The easiest way to create an expensive look is with proper styling! With a little fashion know-how, knowing your body type, and finding the right pieces, you can make give even the most basic outfit a luxe look. Read on for my tips on how to look expensive on a budget.

How to Look Expensive On A Budget

1. Give Your Clothes the Care They Deserve

While you may not be able to afford all of the expensive things, it costs next-to-nothing to keep your clothes in good shape! Properly caring for your garment will go a long way in refining your look and creating those sleek, clean lines associated with high-end garments.

Nothing will ruin a gorgeous outfit faster than wrinkled or creased fabric. Since many natural fabrics like cotton and linen are very wrinkle-prone, always have an iron or steamer handy for straightening things out and giving your fabrics that crisp look. Irons are perfect for getting out those deep-set wrinkles, while steamers offer a more gentle way of smoothing out delicate fabrics. A steamer is also a must for giving life back to seasonal items that have been stowed away for a long time.

In addition to steaming and pressing your garments, never wear anything that has pilling, lint, loose threads, or missing buttons. For pilling and lint removal, this handy device can help you with both for a very affordable price. The reviews don’t lie either!

2. Layer, layer, layer!

One thing that sets the truly stylish woman apart is her ability to make outfits that are all her own. Even if you prefer a more classic look, layering is a great way to show off your style and personality.

One of the easiest ways to layer is by going with a palette of neutral colors. Shades of cream, beige, and tan (especially with luxe fabrics like satin and cashmere) can create a beautiful monochromatic look that radiates elegance. And, of course, it will make your outfit look more expensive!

Try experimenting with a third piece, such as sweaters, coats, and blazers, to get started on creating layered looks.

3. Dress Up Your Jeans

So, a basic pair of jeans is probably the last thing you associate with luxury. But there’s no reason you can’t add a touch of sophistication to this everyday staple! Adding in elements such as a blazer, white button-down, black pumps, a structured bag, and gold jewelry is an easy way to elevate your entire look.

4. Pair Black and Gold Together

Let’s face it; adding a dash of Chanel-inspired style is always a simple way to make your outfit look expensive! Black and gold is a color combo that will simply never get old, and there are infinite ways to wear this combo. One easy way to apply this tip is with a classic little black dress and gold jewelry. You can even go for a black handbag with gold hardware for something a bit more understated.

5. Wear a Brooch

While they may seem a little “old school”, there are plenty of more modern styles and ways to wear a brooch! A brooch is one of those items that just radiates luxury and sophistication, and a little sparkle is always great for personalizing your look. Pin these to your lapel or collar. Check out this one and this one for some tasteful, classic, and expensive-looking options at a great price point.

6. Chandelier Earrings

For that ultimate “dripping in luxury” look, a pair of chandelier earrings will definitely be the star of your look. Even if they’re inexpensive (great pair here!), these earrings a great style adding a little extra glam to your look. Just remember to keep things simple – too much bling can result in a look that crosses into costume-y territory

7. Cashmere Sweaters (Yes, There are Affordable Ones!)

We can all agree that a buttery soft cashmere sweater is an absolute wardrobe essential. While you may not think this is an option for a small budget, you can absolutely find yourself a great one without spending a lot of money!

The brand Quince is all about bringing you affordable luxury, and they’re well known for their $50 cashmere sweaters. They offer a rainbow of colors and are sure to become a staple in your fall, winter, and spring looks. If this is still a little too steep, you can also go for a simple cozy option for the same vibe.

8. Add a Silk Scarf

As you would guess, French girls know a thing or two about luxurious style. One classic accessory that every Parisienne owns is the iconic silk scarf. Whether it’s in your hair, on your neck, or around your wrist, this piece can add flair to a basic outfit and is undeniably chic. You can also find them at a great price!

9. Rent, don’t buy

For the special events, don’t go broke trying to buy a dress at full retail prices- just rent it! Rent the Runway is one of the most popular services and offers thousands of high-end options. If you’re only going to be wearing the dress for a single day, this is such a smart way to inject some pricey designer items into your look for a fair price. While some dresses do fetch a hefty rental price tag, but if you keep digging you can find some fantastic deals.

10. It’s All in The Details

One of the key ways to set your style apart and create a look of luxury on a budget is by choosing pieces with interesting, luxe details. One thing you’ll notice a lot in designer items is that they use these details to make their garments stand out from the crowd.

But many of these same elements can be found in affordable pieces as well! For example, find pieces that use gold instead of plastic buttons. Also be on the lookout for fabrics like tweed, satin, wool, and anything with a unique, but timeless pattern.

tweed blazer classic outfit

Though I’ve talked a lot about this subject, you can read even more about it.
Make sure you check out part 1 & part 2 on ways to look expensive!

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Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.