From Cheap to Chic: 18 Ways to Make your Outfit Look More Expensive

One of my biggest pet peeves is coming across those run-of-the-mill magazine articles that announce which fashion pieces every woman ‘needs’ for the upcoming season – only to present items that range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Seriously?

I’m sure we’d all love to live in a world where we can drop a few thousand here or a few thousand there on a regular basis, but the reality is that even if you can afford to, you DON’T NEED to spend that much in order to look stylish and feel chic.

We’ve included a huge list of tips and quick fixes that will take you from looking ‘discount’ to ‘designer’.

Incorporating these small, easy-to-make adjustments to your existing wardrobe and future purchases can help you make the most of your fashion budget. These are easy fixes that have a big impact on your look.

You’ll come out looking like you spent ten times as much as you really did.

Don’t worry, we won’t tell! πŸ™‚

General Tips

    Faux Suede vs. Faux Leather – When choosing between faux suede and faux leather, go with suede. It tends to look much more high quality than faux leather. Synthetic leather products are easy to spot and can often look cheap or borderline tacky.

    Tweed and Linen for the Win – Both tweed and linen fabrics tend to look more expensive than cotton fabrics. Tweed especially is very easy to wear, not requiring ironing and keeping it’s shape quite well. Whether it’s a skirt, a blazer or some dress pants, these fabrics will almost always look chic and expensive – even if they weren’t.

    Remove Scuffs and Marks from Patent Leather Shoes and Bags – Keep your patent leather items free from scuffs by using a tiny bit of Windex on a soft, clean cloth to gently remove any marks. This trick helps to shine them up too – our bags and shoes will look practically brand new afterwards.


How to Make Your Outfit Look More Expensive

    Replace Cheap Looking Buttons – Whether it’s a coat, jacket, sweater or something else, buttons can make or break an item. You can pick up new buttons at any craft store for just a dollar or two. Ditch fake gold buttons for classy tortoise shell or mother of pearl alternatives.

    Focus on the Fit – Make SURE you wear things that fit! This is one of the most important things to remember. Poorly made clothes often bunch up or don’t lie flat on the seams. If you wear something that doesn’t work on your body type, it translates to ‘cheap’ right off the bat. When you’re wearing flattering pieces that fit you well, they instantly look well made.

    If you have an item that you love, but that just doesn’t fit quite right, invest in having it tailored. Especially if it’s a wardrobe staple. You’ll wear it tons and it can be the foundation for many different outfits.

    Avoid Shiny Fabrics – As a general rule, the shinier the fabric, the easier it’ll be to tell if something is well sewn or not. Fabric with a sheen shows snags, poorly sewn seams, and other construction issues much more than other fabrics.

    If you’re shopping for designer stuff on sale, the products will be well made, so you’re ok. But if you’re buying from an inexpensive brand, matte fabrics will be a better bet than shiny ones.

    Invest In a Good, Substantial Slip or Piece of Shapewear – When wearing dresses and skirts, a nice, smooth slip or shapewear will provide a perfect basis for your outfit, making things fit better, lay flatter and look nicer. There are great options for smooth fitting shapewear out there, and finding a good slip will take your entire outfit up a few notches.

    Ditch the Wrinkles – Nothing screams ‘cheap’ more than excessive wrinkles in your clothes. You can quickly release wrinkles in most things by throwing them in the dryer for a few minutes, shaking them out and laying them flat to cool. You can also do a quick touch up with an iron. I hate ironing though, so I gravitate towards the dryer trick whenever I can. πŸ™‚

    Same Goes for Pilling – When a piece of clothing starts to pill, it immediately looks inexpensive. Have a fabric shaver or depiller on hand and keep your clothing looking newer and nicer by using it when needed.

    Dark Colors > Light – Dark colors tend to look more expensive than light ones. Dark colors can hide flaws in the fabric, construction and fit MUCH more so than light shades. This doesn’t mean you can’t find inexpensive items in your fav pastels, but just keep it in mind as you shop. If there are two tops, chances are the darker one will look more well made.

    Black is the New Black – Speaking of colors, black is your go-to shade. Black has a tendency to look more expensive and chic than any other color. It’s flattering and it’s just a safe bet with pretty much anything.


    Repair Your Shoes – Worn out shoes can make an outfit look frumpy and inexpensive. But did you know that it’s pretty affordable to take your shoes to a cobbler? You can make your favorite heels last many times as long as they normally would be having the tips of the heel repaired when they get worn out. This keeps your shoes looking sharp and new – even if they’re not.

    A cobbler can repair just about anything – from soles to heels and even the upper part of the shoe. They can also stretch shoes to help them fit better and last longer. Which brings us to our next point:

    Choose Shoes that Fit – We all find ourselves trying to squish our feet into shoes that don’t fit. With open back heels or sandals especially, it looks cheap to have your heel hanging off the back. Just say no to that. πŸ™‚


    Handbags and Hardware – Though I always try to find awesome deals on everything I buy, I do like to invest certain items, handbags being one of them. A good handbag is a great outfit centerpiece. But you don’t always have to go designer. You CAN often find darling inexpensive handbags. The key to choosing one that won’t give away it’s $10 price tag is to consider the embellishments and hardware. Cheap handbags usually come hand in hand with poorly made latches, metal accents and embellishments. You can usually tell that the gold hardware on a cheaply made bag is, well, cheap. To avoid carrying a clutch that’s a dead giveaway in cost, choose one that has a simpler look. Less going on when it comes to hardware and accents gives is a classier, less telling look. Most people will assume it’s nicer than it is. πŸ™‚

    Switch Up Your Belt – You know those little belts that come along with inexpensive dresses and tops? Ya, you know what I’m talking about – those stretchy elastic ones or the cheaply made fake leather ones that come with all the tops at Forever 21. Well, those belts almost always are the thing that makes the top look cheap. Invest in a couple nicer, cute, skinny leather belts and voila! You’ve got yourself a more expensive looking outfit right off the bat. You can usually find these mix and match belts for cheap at places like Nordstrom Rack or on sale at J Crew. Most similar clothing stores will have super cute belts too. And they almost always go on sale.

    Use Caution with Shiny Jewelry – Shiny gold and silver colored jewelry is often a dead giveaway of it’s price/quality. Especially gold. Nicer gold jewelry looks fabulous. Cheap gold jewelry looks very.. cheap. Especially if it’s the shiny kind that is plated, which tend to flake or chip easily. Cheap shiny jewelry also tends to tarnish quickly. If you have a choice, a matte finish on inexpensive jewelry usually looks more expensive than a shiny finish. Overall, be mindful and use good judgement when choosing your pieces.

Putting Outfits Together

    Investment Pieces – Choose a few good, basic pieces and invest a little more in them. We recommend pieces like a perfect pair of jeans, a quality handbag, a nice black peacoat, a classic trench and a pair of pretty leather boots. These kinds of pieces will give you a solid foundation for multiple outfits. You can wear them very frequently, so you’ll get more value out of them – justifying the extra cost for these select items.

    Adding On – You can then use these investment pieces as the base of your outfit – adding variety and color with less expensive pieces to mix it up each day. For instance, starting with a nicer pair of jeans and your go-to handbag will let you get away with pairing them up with a cheaper top that you got on sale somewhere like Forever 21. The top will be much less telling than the jeans. The whole outfit can be passed of as ‘expensive’ and ‘stylish’ even though your top may have only cost $5.

If you liked this post, you may also want to check out our list of places to find cute, affordable clothes or our all inclusive guide on how, when and where to find designer clothes for cheap!

From Cheap to Chic: 18 Ways to Make your Outfit Look More Expensive


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