How To Create Summer Fits That Look Expensive…But Aren’t!

Want to look classy, luxe, and expensive this summer? Read this list with practical tips and outfit inspiration for how to look expensive on a budget in the summer months!

collage of four images of women wearing expensive-looking summer outfits

Summer Dressing To Look Expensive (On a Budget!)

With summer just around the corner, you’re probably busy looking for outfit inspo and planning what you’ll wear. If your aesthetic for the season balances expensive looks with budget-friendly prices, we’ve got you covered!

Here at Style Your Occasion, we’re all about putting together chic, elevated outfits that make you feel and look your best. Thankfully, there are countless ways to achieve a polished, expensive-looking outfit without splurging on costly pieces. All you need to do is….

Follow These Tips:

Want to look chic this summer? Read this list with practical tips and outfit inspo for how to look expensive on a budget.

1. Opt For Stripes

shop affordable stripes:

Stripes are a summer must-have. This timeless trend has an old-money appeal that makes any outfit look, well, rich. Whether you’re traveling the South of France or exploring your own city, throwing on striped pieces like a pinstripe shirt dress, striped sweater, or linen co-ord will instantly elevate your wardrobe.

However, my all-time favorite way to wear stripes in the summer is with a button-down shirt. Different styles like a classic Breton striped, striped poplin, or linen-blend button-down all have a breezy European aesthetic that looks so classy.

H&M and Mango have some great options for less—you may even find some striped gems at your local consignment shop! Style with tailored shorts, a brown belt, and minimal sandals for an effortless look you’ll wear all season.

2.  Stay Classic in Black 

budget black pieces:

A monochrome outfit is an easy, effective way to look more polished and put-together. Of all the monochromatic combos you could choose, a classic all-black color palette will make your simplest summer outfits much more luxe. 

You could try this with a black summer dress and matching accessories like Kate did. Or style a black linen top with coordinating shorts and chic accessories for a day-to-night look. For best results, stick to minimal designs and classic cuts that embrace the ‘quiet luxury’ aesthetic. 

While you can never go wrong with an all-black outfit, black and tan also look very classy together! Accessorize your black outfit with a tan belt, bag, or sandals to add an elegant element to your look.    

3. Try Navy + Tan

Woman wearing navy linen short set with brown accessories.

get the look for less:

On that same note, navy and tan is another classy color combination you should try this summer. Whether you’re going for a casual look or an elevated ensemble, the combination of navy blue with tan looks effortlessly elegant (especially when you have a tan!). 

To try out this color palette, you can wear a matching navy set and accessorize with leather sandals and a structured bag in the same shade of brown. A navy dress or midi skirt styled with tan accessories would also look luxurious. Your garments don’t have to be expensive to pull this off! This color combo achieves the expensive look for you. 

4. Wear An Ivory Dress

affordable ivory dresses:

You can’t beat an off-white or ivory dress in the summer. It’s cute, eye-catching, and forever in style! But don’t just pull it out for fancy events. This one-and-done ensemble can be dressed up or down to achieve a luxe-for-less look. The key here is to opt for timeless fabrics and sophisticated silhouettes—midi or maxi dresses look the most elevated, in my opinion. 

For an everyday look, an ivory linen or cotton dress is chic and stylish. Pair it with your favorite sandals and sunnies for a summer outfit you can wear out shopping or to the farmer’s market. For fancier occasions, slinky materials like satin and silk are perfect. In the look above, I’ve added kitten heels and an affordable leather clutch to achieve an expensive look without spending a fortune.  

Style tip: Incorporating white into your outfit is an easy way to look expensive. This extremely versatile color exudes confidence and luxury.  

5. Go With a Linen Vest

Woman wearing straight jeans with a black vest top and ballet flats.

budget-friendly vests:

If you want to add just one item to your wardrobe this summer, make it a linen vest. This versatile garment gives any outfit that old-money aesthetic, so you look more expensive without even trying. 

Quality fabrics are so important for mastering that rich aesthetic. Opt for natural materials, like linen, rather than synthetic fabrics to nail the expensive look. No matter your budget, there are plenty of great quality linen vests on the market! 

The best part? They come in a variety of neutrals like white, oatmeal, or black that elevate countless different bottoms, including shorts, trousers, and skirts. I love how @symphonyofsilk made a simple pair of blue jeans look more expensive with a tailored black vest and Chanel ballet flats. There are infinite styling options here. 

6. Wear White Pleated Trousers

thrifty pleated trousers:

Every woman needs a pair of white pleated trousers in her wardrobe. This classic piece gets frequent use in my wardrobe, especially during the warmer months. You can wear them at the office, out to dinner, and everything in between—talk about versatility!

Tailored trousers always look luxurious, in my opinion. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on them. Even the most budget-friendly pairs will make your summer outfit look more expensive. Plus, they’re an easy but elegant swap for jeans or denim shorts that don’t sacrifice comfort or style. 

You really can’t go wrong with styling white trousers. I think they go well with button-up shirts or the linen vest tops I mentioned above. A simple white tank also makes for an easy monochromatic outfit that looks more expensive than it is. 

7. Go With A Midi

Woman wearing a black midi skirt with a white tank top and an oversized button down with sandals.

get the look for less:

While you may be tempted to have your legs out this summer, try swapping your mini skirts for a midi silhouette to achieve a more expensive-looking outfit. Because they’re more modest and unexpected, midi skirts have the power to elevate everyday summer outfits (and make them look posh) 

Whenever you’re thinking of wearing jeans, shorts, or a mini, try a satin or linen blend midi skirt instead for an effortlessly elevated outfit. You’ll love how it pairs with most items in your closet. Just throw it on and go!

Extra Tips:

When it comes to looking expensive, it’s not just about what you wear. Follow the tips below to get the whole luxe aesthetic from head to toe-nail. 

Close up shot of a woman drinking a to-go coffee while wearing a white skil halter top and gold jewelry.

1. Keep Hair Clean and Sleek

The right hairstyle has the power to take your outfit from basic and boring to chic and stylish. I recommend sticking to sleek, rich-looking hairstyles like understated low buns, polished ponytails, and relaxed tresses. These sophisticated styles embody quiet luxury with minimal effort on your part. 

2. Wear Minimalist Jewelry

Adding jewelry to your outfit makes your styling feel complete and look more expensive. Rather than bright statement pieces and colorful costume jewelry, opt for delicate minimalist jewelry that enhances your overall look. Stick to classic gold, silver, or pearl pieces – whichever complements you and your outfit the most! 

I know what you’re thinking…isn’t expensive-looking jewelry expensive? Nope! You can find tons of great inexpensive options at Quince, H&M, and even Amazon. Keep your eye out for dainty, timeless pieces like chunky dome earrings, a pearl necklace, or a gold croissant ring.

3. Don’t Forget Your Nails

A closeup shot of a woman's hand with a fresh, chrome manicure and ring stacks.

Nails are also an accessory! Don’t overlook the power a good manicure and pedicure has on your outfit—especially during the warmer months when you’re wearing sandals. This summer, opt for a simple, clean-looking mani and pedi to elevate your vibe. Ivory, baby pink, nudes, and barely-there sheer polishes look classy and go with any outfit! 

Want something trendy and bold for summer? Shiny neutral chrome, as seen on @bri_beauty_studio, or a classic red mani, is fun and luxurious. If you are on a really tight budget, do a DIY mani/pedi at home! 

4. Accessorize With Intention

It’s all in the details. To dress more expensive on a budget, it’s important to accessorize with intention. Expensive-looking outfits tend to be very minimal, so make sure every element of your outfit – from clothing to accessories – looks purposeful. 

When choosing luxe-looking accessories, stick to sleek shapes and timeless styles. For example, a natural raffia bag (plain or with small leather details) has a rustic, Italian vibe that is perfect for elevating a summer outfit! Structured leather bags are best for polished outfits, but you can find inexpensive faux-leather options too. Shop for ones with a subtle design, neutral color, and minimal hardware.

As for shoes, you can’t go wrong with tan, white, or black leather sandals. They’ll go with everything! Have a flat option for every day and a heeled strappy sandal for dressier events. 

5. Avoid Wrinkles

One of the simplest ways to elevate an outfit is to keep it wrinkle-free. Summertime fabrics like cotton and linen wrinkle easily, so always steam or iron your clothing (especially those prone to wrinkling) before you wear them out. Wrinkle-free clothing will always look more polished and shows that you pay attention to the tiny details that make an outfit more luxe! 


If you loved this article, don’t miss How To Look Expensive On A Budget (in any season!) and 21+ Effortless Summer Outfits To Copy!


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