The key is really to mix low and high pieces, as in more expensive shoes, jackets and handbags, and less expensive things like tops or accessories.
5 BASIC RULES ON HOW TO PICK NICER LOOKING THINGS
- Avoid embellishments – Unless done right, like Louboutin glitter pumps, they tend to look cheap
- Choose darker shades – they hide a lot of flaws — black, navy, burgundy, are great colours
- Think about the weight of the item – The heavier it looks, the more luxe it seems
- Think about the drape of the item – A jacket that is a stiff, awkward fabric, looks cheap
- Pick the right size – Squeezing into a Size 8 when you’re a Size 10 is just a disaster
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MY TOP 5 HIGH-END ITEMS
This is where I’d spend the most of my money on.
- Knee-high leather boots – Honestly, I wear these to death. TO DEATH. They need to look great.
- Bag / Purse – I like soft leather, and in a colour I pick a lot (brown)
- Winter Coat – For very cold days, I break out the parka; for -10 C+, it’s my black wool trench coat
- Work Heels – I rarely wear heels in my regular life, but at work, I need to be comfortable
- Blouses – I find that blouses tend to show (v. easily) if they’re cheap or not by the way they move
1. KNEE HIGH LEATHER BOOTS
I can usually tell by the sheen and thickness of the material if it is real leather or fake, and how it holds up to wear over time.
Boots that are cheap and plastick-y, will look roughed up in a short amount of time, not to mention giving away that it’s made out of cheap stuff when the leather (real or fake) starts peeling.
If you wear boots as often as I do, if you don’t take care of them, and/or you buy cheap boots, it can ruin an otherwise perfectly fine outfit.
2. BAG / PURSE
Again, anything with too much glitter, sparkle, cracking leather (real or fake), or too much embellishment screams CHEAP to me.
I find that Guess handbags tend to fall in this camp for me, along with Louis Vuitton and Gucci handbags (which is surprising because they are not cheap..)
I’m partial to carrying Longchamp Pliage when I’m running errands because it is just so easily wiped down with a warm cloth and water if a yoghurt tub explodes inside. Plus it’s really light and not at all heavy.
3. WINTER COAT
During winter, who sees anything but your coat when you’re outside?
A luxe winter coat can make any outfit look better, even sweatpants can look professional when you’re running to the store.
If the weather drops below -15C, that’s when I break out the parka; I don’t care if I look like I’ve wrapped myself in a quilt, I am WARM DAMN IT.
4. WORK HEELS
Cheap heels are easy to spot by their plastic looking heel, the way they crack at the vamp (your toes near the front when you walk), but most of all, they are UNCOMFORTABLE.
Why torture yourself? Buy comfortable shoes.
8 times out of 10, I can spot if something is of a natural fiber or not (cotton, silk, wool) versus polyester or rayon.
Honestly it makes no difference to me, but what makes a blouse look cheap is either that it has too much embellishment on it (sparkles, glitter, chains), or it doesn’t drape well (is too thin and flimsy looking), or that the colour is really quite… ugly.
Plus.. it should be for you that you decide to have a nicer fabric against your skin because you will sweat less.
MY TOP 5 LOW-END ITEMS
This is where I wouldn’t bother spending a lot of money on, unless it was due to the fabric itself being extremely comfortable.
- T-Shirts & Tank Tops – I go to American Apparel because I like that they make their things from start to finish (literally)
- Jeans – Jeans are jeans. Unless they’re $20, it’s hard to tell the difference looks-wise; but comfort comes at a hefty price if you want to buy premium denim to feel good wearing them
- Jewellery – I prefer independently-made, artisanal stuff, but most jewellery looks the same to me
- Pants / Trousers – They look pretty much the same if you are careful in choosing the material
- Watches – No one really checks to see if your watch is cheap or not, but pick classic shapes
1. T-SHIRTS & TANK TOPS
I hear a lot of good things about James Perse cotton t-shirts, but I can’t reconcile spending $50 – $75 on a t-shirt when I can pick one up for $20 at American Apparel.
As long as you pick a dark rinse, avoid mom jeans, embellishments, whiskering or strange bellbottom flares that have patchwork, you can’t really go wrong with jeans.
I can’t tell the difference between premium denim or low-end stuff, and frankly, the only difference is how it feels on your body.
I like the way premium denim feels on me (softer, not as raw, not as thick), but it doesn’t look any better than jeans from H&M.
- Read: How to shop for and find the perfect pair of jeans to wear
- Read: Where to find jeans for flat, bony, small butts
Unless you’re buying dollar-store plastic stuff, jewellery tends to look nice if you avoid very chrome-looking or fake-looking things.
4. PANTS / TROUSERS
Same deal as jeans. I have trousers from Dynamite that look as luxe as the ones from a designer brand.
Sure, they’re not lined, but they feel pretty darn good and comfortable enough for work.
Target had a great classic silver square-faced watch with a black leather band that looked pretty luxe until you read the brand name: Mossimo.
A watch is a watch.
That said, I only really need two watches in my life (one brown, one black), so I’m willing to shell out more for it so that it lasts forever and I can bequeath it onto the one child that pleases me the most in the future (just kidding…………!!!)
But truthfully, any watch is fine as long as it’s classic and you enjoy wearing it.
Note: Charlotte wrote a great post on ways to make your outfit look more expensive the day before. We were literally on the SAME brainwave, everyone!!! Go check it out.