How To Look Expensive On A Budget

Want to know the secret for how to look expensive on a budget? Follow these tips and tricks to get a classy and bougie look…for less!

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Woman wearing white jeans, tan loafers, a black blazer and a brown scarf walks through the city.
Photo: @emmahill

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How to Look Expensive on a Budget

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look (and feel) like a million bucks. In reality, class is not a matter of financial status; it’s a state of mind.

By following certain methods and adopting specific habits, you can present your most expensive-looking self…without breaking the bank. 

Below are the points I’ll cover for how you can look bougie on a budget so not only you and your wardrobe looks great, but your bank account too!

  • Invest in fewer staple pieces 
  • Choose neutral colors
  • Focus on a flattering fit
  • Keep accessories sleek and to a minimum 
  • Find the right fabrics
  • Buy and sell used items
  • Start a Pinterest board for inspiration
Woman wearing a camel colored trench coat, carrying flowers and fruit wrapped in brown paper.
Photo: @makelifeeasier

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How Can I Look Expensive and Classy?

First, what exactly is classy fashion? Classy fashion is defined by timeless pieces that create a simple, sophisticated, and chic appearance. 

Those outfits that look as though they were effortlessly thrown together? That’s the magic of organizing crucial elements for an ultra-flattering effect.

When trying to style these outfits, you’ll want to consider several factors, including fabric, fit, and funding. Below are the best tips for dressing classy on a budget.

Woman wearing a white sweatshirt, jeans, and a black handbag.
Photo: @styleyouroccasion

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Tip #1: Invest in Fewer Staple Pieces

Your fashion staples are the most valuable clothing items in your closet – the ones that lay the foundation for every great outfit. Quality over quantity is key in how to look expensive on a budget, so don’t swipe your credit card until you’re certain the piece will complement your wardrobe. 

While spending more on certain items might seem counter intuitive, when you purchase fewer high-quality pieces rather than more fast-fashion items (think a $50 quality-made white t-shirt vs. A $10 poorly-made white t-shirt) it will serve you better in the long run and you will actually save money. 

Often, pricier items are more likely to remain in good condition throughout the years and they can also often be sold on sites like Poshmark or The Real Real when you are ready to move on.

Some staple pieces to consider for your classy wardrobe upgrade are:

Outerwear

Don’t feel pressured to invest in these items all at once. Instead, slowly collect your staple pieces over time, and you’ll have your closet stocked with them before you know it.

Woman wearing a tan trench coat, black jeans, white sneakers and a white t-shirt sips coffee in the city.
Photo: @lydiajanetomlinson

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Tip #2: How Can I Look Expensive But Simple?

Choose neutral colors! Neutrals answer the age-old question of how you can look expensive, but still achieve a classy, minimal look. 

While bold colors are fun to incorporate into your outfits every once in a while, you can make a chic statement with neutrals, and you’ll get far more outfit combinations from fewer clothes. 

Neutral colors to consider are:

  • Black
  • White
  • Grey
  • Olive green
  • Brown
  • Taupe

These shades are extremely versatile and will anchor your looks, resulting in an effortlessly expensive-looking put-together outfit. 

Since neutrals complement a variety of other colors, they’re a must-have in your wardrobe and you can add simple accessories to elevate the look even more. 

Also, neutrals never go out of style, so you can maintain that classic look for years to come. I recommend stocking your closet with neutral pieces and punctuating them with the occasional pop of color.

Photo: @clairerose

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Tip #3: Focus on a Flattering Fit

Perhaps one of the most defining elements for how to look expensive on a budget is ensuring your clothes fit you properly. 

A classy overall appearance typically features well-tailored, polished garments that subtly highlight your curves. When shopping, try to avoid baggy or overly tight clothing, or combine a more fitted piece (straight leg jeans) with a slightly oversized piece (chunky sweater)

Since fit is so important to mastering the expensive-looking style, you should take time to find pieces that flatter your body shape

For example, if you have an hourglass figure, you’ll want to stick to high-rise bottoms, which will accentuate your waistline. If you’re on the short side, take the time to find a tailor to achieve the best hemlines so you don’t find yourself drowning in fabric. 

Close up shot of a woman wearing two gold chain necklaces.
Photo: @fiveandtwojewelry

Tip #4: Keep Accessories Sleek and to a Minimum

Tasteful accessories have the potential to elevate your outfit from basic to expensive looking. I recommend you stick to dainty, sleek accessories that are ideal for everyday wear like a simple gold chain bracelet, croissant earrings, or a pearl drop necklace. 

Less really is more, which is beneficial to those trying to stay within a budget.

The right handbags, sunglasses, and shoes also have the ability to really elevate an outfit and create that expensive look, but you don’t have to break the bank to find them. 

Focus on neutral colors, simple cuts, and an overall minimalist look and you’ll be able to achieve that chic appeal. Try these accessories:

Shop Accessories:

Tip #5: Find the Right Fabrics

Fabric choices have the potential to either make or break your outfit. An expensive-looking style is complemented by luxurious materials that will see you through many seasons. My favorite fabrics to consider include wool, cashmere, linen, silk, and cotton

To stay on budget, try to find pieces made with high-quality fabrics at the end of the season on sale, shop used on sites like Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, or The Real Real, or find items that have a blend of fabrics. 

Woman wearing white linen pants, a black t-shirt and white sunglasses sips on a drink while sitting on a patio.
Photos: @stylememos

Rather than buying an item that is 100% cashmere which would be expensive, you can often find pieces with 10% cashmere blended with other materials that are more affordable but still have an expensive look. 

Also, be sure to read your garments’ labels and properly care for and launder them to make sure they last, which will minimize the need to purchase replacements.

Woman sitting in a chair wearing jeans, white sneakers and a white and brown striped shacked.
Photo: @styleyouroccasion

Above I am wearing the Theory oversized wool shirt jacket that retails for over $900. I snagged it for just $60 on The Real Real…and it is in like-new condition! 

Tip #6: Buy and Sell Used

One of my best tips to looking expensive on a budget is to purchase truly expensive well-made items, without paying full sticker price. 

If you haven’t looked already you would be shocked to see how many “like new” items can be found on buy & sell sites like The Real Real for 50% or more off retail price (case-in-point above!)

I buy many of my favorite expensive items very gently used (sometimes they still even have the tags attached!), wear them for a season, then sell them and invest in more items with the profits. 

Combining gently used designer handbags, sweaters, shoes, and other classic pieces with simple neutral staples can help you easily achieve that expensive look and stay on budget. 

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Tip #7: Start a Pinterest Board for Inspiration

When you are working to define your personal style and lay down the foundations for your wardrobe, it is very helpful to have visual inspiration to guide you. 

I always recommend starting a Pinterest board and filling it with images of outfits that look expensive and that you are drawn to. I have a few of my own boards I refer to often here and here

Then, before you go on a shopping trip, look through the images you’ve pinned and make a list of a few staple pieces to buy – perhaps a great pair of jeans, a chic black handbag, or a pair of leather flats. 

Keep these items in mind when you are shopping so you’ll be able to re-create the expensive looks you’ve pinned with more ease and less overwhelm. 

Remember, achieving the expensive look on a budget takes time and a bit of trial and error. There’s no rush! The best wardrobes are always the result of a thoughtful, slow, curated process!​​

 

Pin me:

Collage of clothes that will make you look expensive, but. are budget friendly.

 

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