black blazer and silk scarf outfit

How To Mix High and Low Fashion (& Know When To Splurge and When To Save)

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Is pairing a low-cost item like H&M skinny jeans with Chanel flats a fashion mistake? Not at all. In fact, you’re doing what most fashionistas do: mixing high and low. Mixing high and low is a styling trick that strikes the right balance between wearing high-end pieces with low-price items. It’s one of the best ways to look stylish, and of course, save a lot of money. If your goal is to learn how to master mixing high and low fashion, scroll on and follow these 8 helpful tips!

1. Know When To Splurge on High-End Pieces

how to mix high and low fashion

shirt | pants | shoes | belt

First things first- knowing how to mix high and low requires knowing when it’s the right time to finally splurge on some high-end pieces. Because you need some high-end pieces first in order to mix, after all, don’t you?

The more expensive an item, the more you should think about it before taking the plunge. I thought about a Chanel purse for about 4 years before I finally purchased one.

Not saying everyone needs to wait that long, but you want to be sure that you truly want and would use the item. Waiting a substantial amount of time ensures that you still desire the high-end item, regardless of trends, impulse likes, and influencers.

Don’t try to splurge on every designer piece on your wishlist overnight either. Go for a smart designer shopping approach by buying a high-end piece once a year. For example, treat yourself to some splurge-worthy investments on your birthday!

It’s the best way to slowly grow your designer collection without draining your entire bank account. Keep in mind that some financial gurus say that if you can’t buy it twice then you really can’t afford it.

2. Splurge on Classic High-End Accessories

how to mix high and low fashion tips

top | loafers | jeans | bag

Build a solid foundation in your wardrobe with expensive items that have long-term mileage. It would be a waste of money to splurge on trendy items (like the micro bag) because the fashion trend cycle is bound to change. What’s “in” today is uncool tomorrow, so always have classic investment pieces on your radar.

Another great way to choose the best designer wardrobe staple is to determine what you wear frequently and what your personal style is. You can pick high-end items like Celine sunglasses or a Chanel bag for your everyday looks. When you wear these visible branded labels tastefully, they have the power to make the rest of your low-end pieces look luxurious.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to reserve your most expensive pieces for special occasions! Break style rules and wear your designer handbag with casual items like converse sneakers, even if it’s just to run errands. If you spent a thousand dollars (or more) on your accessory, get your money’s worth and wear it frequently!

3. Save Money on Basics

how to mix high and low fashion tips

sneakers | top | shorts | bag

To have a fabulous wardrobe, you need good-quality items like wardrobe basics. So yes, basics should be of good quality, but here you can “save” because they don’t have to be designer quality. You can find affordable and good-quality wardrobe staples from places like Uniqlo, Everlane, and J.Crew Factory. No need to get a Gucci t-shirt!

Even though you don’t need to “splurge” on basics like a white t-shirt, jeans, and a sweater, make sure that the basics are not too cheap. Buying an $8 white t-shirt isn’t the best choice because it will most likely be see-through and not hold up after several washes.

After all, these classic pieces are what you need to pair with your high-end accessories to perfect your high-low mixing skills!

Related: The Best Women’s Classic White T-shirts That Aren’t See-Through (I Tried Them so You Don’t Have to)

4. Don’t Splurge on Statement Special Occasion Dresses

how to mix high and low fashion tips

dress | heels

Spending money on an expensive dress that you are only going to wear once is not the best idea. If you are attending a wedding or going on a date night, I wouldn’t recommend buying an Isabel Marant dress. Because after all, your date is not a red carpet event. (Unless it is, and in that case, can I come?)

Opt for mid-range evening dresses from retailers like Lulus, Asos, or Banana Republic. You can use a splurge accessory as your secret weapon with your formal dresses as this luxury item will give your look a great aesthetic balance.

However, if you really want to treat yourself to a designer dress for special occasions, it’s best to go for neutral dresses. Pick a versatile style that can work for a variety of occasions, such as a slip dress or LBD. These are go-with-everything pieces you can wear multiple times without anyone noticing.

Related: Where to Buy High-Quality Clothes (That Aren’t Crazy Expensive)

5. Try “Mid-Range” Options for High-Quality Outerwear

how to mix high and low fashion tips

jeans | blazer | shirt | bag | flats

So if the lower end of clothing retailers are places like Forever 21 and Walmart and the high-end are designers like Max Mara and Zimmerman, then try out the mid-range options for your high-quality outerwear. Because outerwear reigns supreme in every woman’s closet.

Whether that be a leather jacket, blazer, denim jacket, or trench coat, they add the perfect finishing touch. When choosing outerwear it must tick all your boxes: great fabric, versatile, practical, and of course, chic.

Yes, you can buy an expensive coat from a luxury designer, however, before you take the plunge on a designer coat, try looking at your mid-range options from Quince to Mango. Going this route will save you money while also still providing you with a quality option because mid-range outerwear can be just as good as a designer purchase.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and you may find that a Burberry trench coat is the right designer item for you if it’s something you’ve wanted for a really long time!

6. Avoid Knock-off Designer Items

how to mix high and low fashion tips

sweater | jeans | bag | flats

Fake designer fashion items will make your entire look…fake. Knock-off designer bags or belts usually have cheap leather, glued-on logos, uneven stitching, and plastic hardware. To keep the integrity of your outfit, don’t try to cut corners by wearing knock-off items.

If you aren’t ready to splurge on a high-ticket item, consider going for mid-tier pieces that can pass off as higher-end items. Enter dupes. They’re not for everyone and keep in mind that too many dupes can cheapen the look of your outfit, but when done right, they can be a great and chic option.

7. Keep Your Designer Footwear Neutral

how to mix high and low fashion tips

shoes | shorts | earrings

If you do decide to purchase designer footwear, it’s usually best to choose shoes in neutral shades. There is no use spending thousands of dollars on yellow designer heels if they can’t go well with other clothes in your closet!

Neutral colors, on the other hand, will pair well with many pieces in your closet and you’ll be able to get a lot of wear out of them. Even if you have a bold clothing piece like a floral midi dress, a pair of neutral designer footwear will balance out your look perfectly.

Though basic, these shades are far from boring. Neutrals give an outfit an elegant flair and they are great for monochromatic outfits.

Additionally, opt for a designer shoe with a minimalist silhouette. A simple design makes them classic and easy to wear frequently. Even if they’re fun, consider removing any weirdly-shaped shoes from your shopping cart.

8. Start by Adding 1 High-End Piece To Add to Your Outfit

how to mix high and low fashion tips

coat | sweater | brooch | pants | shoes

You’ve got all the tips, now it’s time to put them into practice. Mixing high and low is really not that hard! Start by adding 1 high-end piece to your everyday outfit.

Maybe it’s a Yves Saint Laurent belt that you fasten over your H&M blazer. Or a Chanel handbag that you pair with your Zara dress. Maybe it’s Celine sunglasses that you use to elevate your Old Navy earrings. Or Chanel flats that you wear to make your Target jeans and t-shirt look more expensive. Maybe it’s your Hermès sandals that you throw on with your J.Crew linen pants.

The balance of one high-end piece mixed with lower to mid-priced items is a balance that is stylish and fashionable. Keep in mind that mixing high and low is not the opportunity to add on as many logos as you can! Keep it simple. Keep it classy. Stick to one visible logo or the same brand throughout your look. A YSL purse with a Gucci belt with a Louis Vuitton hat comes across as trying too hard.

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Mastering the art of opposites and mixing high and low is a skill that many people don’t have. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, by wearing designer head-to-toe. But you also don’t want to look a “mannequin”, by transferring a look showcased on a mannequin at Target onto your own body.

The style is in the mixing and matching and these 8 tried-and-true tips are what will help your outfits look like you spent thousands on your look even when you haven’t!

Next up, follow these no-fail outfit ideas that will always look expensive: 5 Combos That Will Always Look Like Expensive Outfits

Blazer and jeans outfit in Paris
how to mix high and low fashion
Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.