How to look expensive on a budget? This is a question I get asked a lot.
The dilemma of looking expensive on a budget may seem seem seemingly futile and not interesting at all, which of course is more than legitimate.
But the truth is that in our society, obsessed with image, there are many situations that are not exactly futile (at work, for example) in which dressing elegant and chic can offer many real advantages.
The concept, however, is a bit ‘always the same: how to dress elegant and chic spending little and, why not, have a classy and even luxurious look without squandering our substances?
To this I add my personal conviction that, without exaggerating (because exaggerations are never chic), looking well-groomed and elegant is a sign first of all of self-respect and then also to others.
But regardless of any consideration and point of view on how to look expensive on a budget, here are 10 useful tips for those who want to still be chic and have a classy look, regardless of your style:
1 – TO HAVE AN “EXPENSIVE” LOOK YOU DON’T NEED TO BUY EXPENSIVE THINGS
While I’ve reached an age where I can afford luxury items if I want them, I’m a firm believer in one thing: money doesn’t make style.
The world is full of examples, just look around. What counts is knowing how to choose, having an eye, knowing oneself very well.
In short, more than spending money it’s about spending your time better, refining your personal style, studying trends and how to enhance ourselves even with a low budget.
CHIC, INEXPENSIVE PIECES TO LOOK EXPENSIVE ON A BUDGET:
2 – HOW TO LOOK EXPENSIVE ON A BUDGET? HAVING EVERYTHING MADE TO MEASURE!
The fitting, the wearability, is perhaps the most important element for a chic appearance. Even more than the quality of fabrics and materials and the finish of a garment.
If a garment fits us perfectly, in fact, it will automatically look much more luxurious.
For this reason, in order to dress well with little, it is better to focus on the brands that dress us best (I exclude from the start those that have a fit that is not suitable for me, for example) and, above all, cultivate good relationships with a great seamstress.
3 – BASICS AND EVERGREENS ARE THE BACKBONE OF EVERY WARDROBE
I fully understand this one, because I am a victim of it myself, the not-at-all-discreet fascination exerted by “new arrivals” in the stores, by the trends of the moment and by the fancies.
Nonetheless, it is really important to do some thinking about how to best spend your budget and aim first to build the “backbone” of your wardrobe.
This can vary depending on your style, of course, but is likely to include things like a perfect pair of jeans, 2-3 quality T-shirts in basic colors, a warm wool or cashmere sweater in a neutral shade, a quality coat, a nice handbag etc.
Starting from there, it will be easy to build a nice wardrobe and match all the trendiest and fanciest things we’re going to add to it.
And with every start of the season, these items will create a quality starting point for new and current pairings.
4 – INVEST IN THE CLOTHES YOU USE MOST AND IN ACCESSORIES, SAVE ON TRENDS
I’ve always followed this rule: in my wardrobe I have good/very good quality things that I use season after season: Like my heavy wool blue Fay coat, many of my luxury bags, my black Prada boots that resist everything…) and other more trendy and fashionable things.
Even for the items we use most often (in my case, for example, coats, jeans, cashmere sweaters, and ankle boots for fall/winter) I find you can invest in excellent quality.
5 – HOW TO LOOK EXPENSIVE ON A BUDGET? FOCUSING ON SOLID COLOR!
Solid color garments are the most versatile, the ones you use the most and the ones that are much more unlikely to go out of style.
That’s why choosing solids over fabrics with prints and appliqués is always a winner for creating a time- and credit card-proof wardrobe.
By the way, this advice may not appeal to lovers of wild patterns and decorations. But they, too, will benefit greatly from the ability to “frame” their most detail-rich garments with solid-color pieces, making them stand out even more.
6 – BAGS AND SHOES, BETTER IN LEATHER
Unless it’s an underlying ethical choice, for bags and shoes it’s always best to avoid “eco” materials, which often make these accessories cheap, and opt instead for more chic and durable materials. There are, of course, some great exceptions to this rule.
Shoes and bags are among the few things on which it is better not to save money at the expense of quality (and there are many ways to do this, which we will see later).
7 – YES TO VINTAGE FOR SOME ITEMS
Soprattutto per le borse.
On Vestiaire Collective you will find the largest Italian and probably worldwide offer of vintage and second-hand accessories.
All pieces are guaranteed, authenticated and at excellent prices. Often you can also find new pieces that come with their original tags, dustbag, and box.
8 – TAKES ADVANTAGE OF ALL AVAILABLE SALES CHANNELS
These days, the idea that in order to save money or dress on a limited budget you inevitably have to make compromises in terms of quality is really obsolete.
The ways to dress expensive on a budget buying things of high quality, in fact, exist and are many. From outlets and sample sales at home to the sales of our favorite boutiques, until you get to the interesting online channels.
Even take a look at the chains and large online stores is always worthwhile: some, such as Asos, Mango etc. keep in fact good quality pieces at great prices, as well as often offering discounts and promotions.
The Sale or Outlet section of some online luxury boutiques also often offers steep discounts on great wardrobe classics.
9 – TO DRESS EXPENSIVE ON A BUDGET, DECLUTTER YOUR WARDROBE!
10 – HAVE EVERYTHING TAILORED
As you may have guessed by now, I’m a big supporter of shopping your closet, the practice of tidying up our wardrobe, discarding, giving away or selling what we no longer need and enhancing what we have, combining it in new ways.
Not only is it a form of fashion meditation that frees up our creativity, but we can find things we thought we had to buy.
Instead, we already have free resources to invest maybe in a special garment or accessory, capable of elevating the entire wardrobe and helping us to dress well while spending very little.
If you like the idea, you only have to “browse” my blog and click on the links above. You’ll find lots of ideas, because it is one of my favorite themes!
11 – DON’T OVERDO THE DECORATIONS
Depending on your personal style, even this advice may not appeal to everyone.
For some, luxury is synonymous with “richly adorned”, “over the top”, but the fact remains that true elegance is almost always characterized by simplicity and sobriety.
Whether the sweater cost 200 euros or 30, in fact, a look composed of simple pieces with minimal accessories will always be luxurious.
In the example in the following photo, it is the woman who stands out in her elegant simplicity, rather than being overwhelmed by the details of what she is wearing.
12 – TRY MONOCHROMATIC LOOKS
This is also a tip to dress well spending little that may not please everyone.
How many times have those who always wear black heard themselves say “how sad, always in black!”
13 – SIMPLICITY IS CLASSY
See points 5, 10, and 11.
14 – TO DRESS EXPENSIVE ON A BUDGET, COMBINE DIFFERENT TEXTURES
This tip definitely falls under the Luxury 2.0 concept, because it overlaps with other more basic tips found above.
Personal stylists, actresses, models and fashion editors make extensive use of it.
The combination of garments in different textures and materials, preferably tone on tone or in shades of similar colors (and, coincidentally, often neutral), immediately makes the look luxurious.
Welcome faux fur collars and other faux fur details on cashmere sweaters and matching coats, or fringed leather bags on the smooth fabric jacket of the same color or, again, skirts, dresses or sweaters with feather edges, for example.
They make the look instantly more interesting and chic.
I dedicated an entire post to blazers, to dispel the myth of the stiff, unimaginative and slightly stale garment.
16 – HOW TO DRESS UP? TRY THE RULE OF 3!
The rule of 3 is one of the typical tricks used by image consultants. But it’s also a concept that many of you probably already follow by intuition.
Essentially, this rule suggests that for a look to be truly complete, a third piece must be added to it.
Generally it will be a spectacular accessory.
It can be, for example, a beautiful handbag, a flashy piece of jewelry or a beautiful pashmina. But also a structured outerwear or a pair of killer sandals.
It’s also a great idea to experiment with what you already own. Sometimes you just need to add a third ingredient to achieve a magical and, above all, chic effect.