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13 Tips To Look Expensive Without Spending A Fortune

September 3, 2020

How to look expensive on a budget
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Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions/comments about being on a budget, cheaper alternatives, and which stores offer the best values. So, I thought this would be the perfect time for us to chat about ways to always look great without spending any additional money.

I gave it a think and came up with 5 tips, which turned into 9, then 11, and finally, 13 ways to always look amazing on a budget. I’m hitting publish before this turns into 101 ways. ‘Cause we have other things to do this weekend than read a novel.

Zooey Deschanel Quote About Looking Expensive


Budgets look different for everyone.  But rest easy because these tricks work whether you spend $20 a month on clothes or if that girl at Bloomies has your Amex number memorized and does the happy dance when you whisk open the door.

Okay, Sunshine! Let’s jump right in…

What To Buy To Look More Expensive:

#1 – Go Monochromatic & Stick with Your Color Palette

How To Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #1 Monochromatic

I thought we’d start with an easy one. Monochromatic outfits almost always look stylish. And don’t feel limit yourself to black. Depending on the color palette you chose in Step 2 of Your Guide To Style, grey, navy, or pink like in the picture above all look awesome.

Haven’t picked up a copy of Your Guide To Style yet? Get yours now and take advantage of the end of Summer Flash Sale.

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The pieces don’t have to be perfectly matchy-matchy. Give yourself permission to mix different shades and different textures.

#2 – Fit

Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #2 Fit

This one is two-fold. The first being clothes on the looser side always look more expensive. Not to say your outfit needs to be baggy, but a little room to move looks more elegant and stylish.

The second is tailoring. Now, I have a love-hate relationship with this part of fit. And I think it’s a perfect time for an honest moment. If you don’t have a tailor and know you won’t look for one, then avoid buying clothes that require a nip or tuck.

If you have a sew-master that you love and does a great job, then tailoring can be a great way of making an inexpensive item look like you paid a ton for it.

A good tailor will have suggestions, but it’s always helpful if you have an idea of what you want. Think back to the Dressing For Your Shape article (if you missed it, you can catch up here) and make sure the piece accentuates your favorite feature. Hiking the hem to show off your legs-for-days or nipping the waist of those tailored pants not only make the item look more expensive, but ramps up comfort and cuts down on fiddling.

#3 – Under Garments

Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #3 Under Garments

Smooth lines are like electricity – something we don’t appreciate until the light switch refuses to work.

No matter how much we spend on a piece, if others can see our bra band digging into our back or the lace pattern of our panties through our skirt, those distractions will make even the most amazing outfit look cheap.

So, if you haven’t had a bra fitting in the last year – schedule one. Especially, if quarantine messed with our weight. I know it’s a pain, but you’ll be glad you did. Not only will our clothes fit better, but you’ll be oodles more comfortable.

Second, find a brand of seamless panties you love. Commando is definitely my jam, but I have a girlfriend who swears by Soma, and another who likes Calvin Klein. I included the link for all three so you can see which one you love best.

#4 – Accessories

How To Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #4 Accessories

This is where we want to spend the money. First, because they have the power to pull an outfit together like nothing else and elevate any so-so ensemble into super stylish.

The second is because your handbag, favorite earrings, nude pumps, whatever will see a lot more wear than any individual item in your closet. And the better the quality, the less it will show wear and tear.

We chat about accessories a ton, so I’ll refrain from droning on and on about them. However, here are a couple articles you’ll want to check – How To Accessorize Every Outfit In Your Closet & Tips To Finding The Ideal Work Tote.

#5 – 80/20 Rule

How To Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #5 Trends Versus Staples

We talk about this a bit in Your Guide To Style, but it bears repeating. 80% of our closet should be timeless articles that we can wear for several seasons. And the other 20% can be a nod to flattering trends that we can’t resist. The styles with more longevity are a smart place to spend extra money. Whereas the trends that will vanish by the end of the season are where fast fashion comes into play with places like Zara and H&M.

#6 – Mix Textures

How to look expensive on a budget

No better time to chat about textures than now when we’re facing Fall and texture options are exploding. A chunky sweater with a flowy boho skirt, a tweed blazer with corduroys, (heck a tweed blazer with anything), or like in the picture above of Brocade pants with a knit jacket.

What To Avoid To Look Expensive On A Budget:

#7 – Delicate Fabrics

How To Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #7

I love a great slip dress, but the second it snags on the seat belt, it goes to Goodwill or gets relegated to the casual weekend section of your closet.

If you love them too and want to add another one to your wardrobe, check out Zara or H&M first and choose non-shiny, more durable fabrics for staple pieces.

#8 – Light Colors

How To Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #8 Light Colors

I love a fresh white dress as much as you. However, the first bump we hit after going through the Starbuck’s drive-through and it’s ruined. (That very thing happened last week and the dress was khaki, not even white. #annoying)

The moral of this story is that darker or brighter colors just wear better.

#9 – Sales

How To Dress Expensive On A Budget - Tip #9 Sales

I can hear the cries now, ‘What?!? But sales are the perfect place to save money on clothes we might not have splurged on at regular price.’

Oh-so true, Sunshine.

And if you’re disciplined and focus on staples that’ll last season to season, then go for it! Unfortunately, impulse purchases while shopping the sale rack are one of the reasons the staff at Goodwill used to know my name. I justified the purchase by thinking they were practically giving it to me. But… if you can only wear it a couple of times or if it just hangs in your closet unloved, it’s not a bargain. Plus, we’ll wish we have that money back next week when we bump into something truly awesome and versatile.

Care & Maintenance Tips To Look Expensive For Less:

#10 – Over Washing

How To Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #10 Avoid Over Washing

Wash only when necessary. Most days aren’t so rigorous that our clothes legitimately get dirty. If you’ve had one of those easy days, put off washing/dry cleaning it until next time. The fabric will hold up better, and you’ll avoid fading, pilling, and unnecessary wear and tear.

#11 – Pill Shaver

How To Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #11 Pill Shaver
Available for $11 at Amazon. Tap The Picture For More Details.

Speaking of pilling – I love this stupid thing. If you haven’t invested in one yet, you can check it out here.

#12 – Steamer

Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #12 Clothing Steamer
Available on Amazon for $17. Tap The Picture To See Other Options.

I used to brag about having never owned an iron. However, this steamer is a lifesaver. Especially if you’re committed to Tip #9 above. A quick pass with a steamer will bump out those wrinkles you got from sitting or that evil seatbelt.

#13 – I Call This One, The Italian Restaurant Rule

How To Look Expensive On A Budget - Tip #13

You know how you come home from your favorite little Italian bistro downtown and realize you smell like you rolled around in garlic and smooshed some in your hair for good measure?

Instead of tossing that dress, blouse, whatever in the dry cleaning pile, try popping it top into the freezer overnight.

My grandmother actually taught me this one, and I’m not sure why it works (maybe it freezes the germs that cause the smell?). Who knows, but try it next time and see if you can get another wearing before having to launder.

And That’s A Wrap, Sunshine!

13 Easy Ways To always look expensive without spending any more money.

Do you have some favorite tips that I missed? Feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll keep adding to the list – we might end up with 101 after all.

‘Til Next Week.

Hugs & Happy Shopping.

Our Style Addiction - Angela

P.S. Miss last week’s post about Three of The Prettiest Trends of The Season? No worries! Here’s the link to catch up.

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