Five Tips for Dressing Expensive, Even on a Budget

Everybody wants to dress expensive even when dressing on a tight budget. There are several tactics that will help you accomplish just that!  The graphic below demonstrates just how different two identical sets of pieces can look!  Both feature Old Navy’s fit and flare cami dress, button front crew neck cardigan, classic ballet flats, laser-cut saddle bag and floral statement necklace.  But the first outfit with a bold print and bright color scheme looks much less expensive than the second ensemble.  It’s fun and colorful but not expensive looking!  The tips below will help you keep on track if you are aiming for an expensive look, no matter what your actual budget!

how to look expensive on a budget, dressing expensive, how not to look cheap, dressing on a budget

Tip 1: Stick to a primarily neutral color palette!

Neutrals convey a more expensive look than brights, neons or large patterns.  Not that you can’t wear these options!  Just use brights sparingly and stick to classic patterns (stripe, check, etc.) for a look that reads expensive.

Statement colors can make great accents when used sparingly – one great coat or handbag can pack a lot of punch, as demonstrated by Mira Duma’s bold fuchsia coat in the photo below.

Impactful – YES!  Cheap looking – NO!

Mira Duma, fuchsia, bold color, style

When you can start investing, put a little more money into your shoes and handbags for the maximum return on your fashion dollar.  See Wardrobe Building: Where to Begin Investing? for more information.

Tip 2: Keep trends to a minimum!

If you want to try something new on the market, limit yourself to one trend per outfit.  Statement jewelry tends to allow for more repeat wear than clothing items and can keep your neutrals from reading too boring.   Another way to balance some of the wilder trends is by purchasing them in a neutral color.  Sometimes the combination of a flamboyant trend and a bright, bold color can be a bit much.

Tip 3: Focus on fit!

Two great options for securing a better fit include proper foundation pieces and custom tailoring.  Get a good bra fitting and use Spanx or comparable shape-wear to keep a smooth line underneath your clothes. Small alterations like adjusting a sleeve length or nipping a bit in at the waist can give a much more tailored and expensive look to off the rack pieces for a relatively small cost.

Tip 4: Pay attention to details!

Make sure your clothes are pressed or steamed.  Polish your shoes and leather goods.  Replace cheap mass-market buttons with nicer ones like those available in most national craft stores.  Cut off tacky embellishments that distract from an otherwise classic piece.

Years ago I purchased a black cocktail dress with a crew neckline in front that was backless with cowl-like draping right at the tailbone.  I loved it aside from a tacky crystal necklace-type embellishment the manufacturer had added to the neckline. Five minutes with a narrow tipped pair of scissors and the look of the dress was elevated 10-fold!

Tip 5: Care for the mannequin as you do for the clothes!

Present a consistent image from head to toe.  Don’t ruin your look with over-processed frizzy hair, chipped nail polish, etc.

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This post is part of Classy Yet Trendy’s blogger link-up!

Author: Betsy Ramsey

Betsy Ramsey is the author of Natty Gal. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, she now lives there with her husband and Bichon-Frise, Dolce. A mindful fashion & capsule wardrobe enthusiast, she travels extensively, visiting 56 countries to date. Betsy is committed to helping others live their most fulfilling life!

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