Save. Spend. Splurge.

How to increase the luxe factor of your wardrobe without breaking the bank

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.


  1. Avoid embellishments – Unless done right, like Louboutin glitter pumps, they tend to look cheap
  2. Choose darker shades – they hide a lot of flaws — black, navy, burgundy, are great colours
  3. Think about the weight of the item – The heavier it looks, the more luxe it seems
  4. Think about the drape of the item – A jacket that is a stiff, awkward fabric, looks cheap
  5. Pick the right size – Squeezing into a Size 8 when you’re a Size 10 is just a disaster



This is where I’d spend the most of my money on.


  1. Knee-high leather boots – Honestly, I wear these to death. TO DEATH. They need to look great.
  2. Bag / Purse – I like soft leather, and in a colour I pick a lot (brown)
  3. Winter Coat – For very cold days, I break out the parka; for -10 C+, it’s my black wool trench coat
  4. Work Heels – I rarely wear heels in my regular life, but at work, I need to be comfortable
  5. Blouses – I find that blouses tend to show (v. easily) if they’re cheap or not by the way they move


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.


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.


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.


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.


This is where I wouldn’t bother spending a lot of money on, unless it was due to the fabric itself being extremely comfortable.


  1. T-Shirts & Tank Tops – I go to American Apparel because I like that they make their things from start to finish (literally)
  2. 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
  3. Jewellery – I prefer independently-made, artisanal stuff, but most jewellery looks the same to me
  4. Pants / Trousers – They look pretty much the same if you are careful in choosing the material
  5. Watches – No one really checks to see if your watch is cheap or not, but pick classic shapes


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.


Unless you’re buying dollar-store plastic stuff, jewellery tends to look nice if you avoid very chrome-looking or fake-looking things.


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.



  • Nicole

    Love this post! Trying to establish my capsule wardrobe – so this will really help. I’m limited on the budget side of things as I’m tall so the fit isn’t always great. Couldn’t agree more on the winter coat, living in the UK, it’s all you see from about September to around now.

  • Meems

    What brand of knee-hi boots are those? I would love some Fryes, but they’re $400-ish!

  • Yetunde

    I’m learning to splurge on comfort shoes because the older I get, the less forgiving my feet are to my tastes. With pants and jeans, I don’t know if it’s a splurge or save for me but I find a brand that works for me and stick with it. Having said that, 80% of my pants and jeans over the last 10 years have been from Express – it’s not a luxury brand, but it’s not too cheap either

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Shoes are the #1 for me. I want them to be PERFECT. 🙂

      Try consignment shopping if you’re OK with secondhand stuff. They have great jeans for quite cheap (comparatively speaking).

  • Tania

    I think embellished pieces made well can look very luxe but yup they aren’t cheap. Also, not as durable. A metallic leather, no matter how well made, will not last as long as say a black lambskin piece. I like lining on certain pieces too (dresses) as can mean a better hang and drape. Since I don’t wear much color I like a colorful handbag but nothing that screams a particular season (like the fluorescent phase we had last season with Coach/Kors). My turquoise Balenciaga can be worn with earthy colors, black, grey, you name it although I guess that’s not so cheap, right. 🙂 For jeans, I recommend thrift store shopping. I buy almost all my jeans second hand (although I do most of mine online since I’m very familiar with brand/styles that fit me well). I wear premium just because it fits me so much better (big butt). Cheaper jeans, except for Levis, never look flattering on me.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Jeans in thrift stores or via consignment is a much better deal. For some reason there is ALWAYS a huge pile of them that no one picks through.

      Emebellished pieces and very colourful seasonal pieces, I tend to avoid. I just KNOW people can date it. Maybe not everyone, but I may also eventually get bored of it…

  • Sarah

    I agree! I feel like if you keep your wardrobe choices simple and stay away from crazy embellishments, your outfits will look more polished. Also, I too wear my brown boots into the ground!

  • Melissa

    I don’t know if you have any ideas, but for where I live, knee high boots don’t work (I live in a really hot climate, and even winter it’s rarely cold enough to wear boots). I LOVE your style, but would you still suggest fancy footwear in terms of sandals?

  • Tracy

    Louis Vuitton makes beautiful leather bags without any obvious embellishments. The regular canvas line is not for everyone (I personally love it due to the history behind the monogram print) but there are lots of other options including the iconic Epi leather line. Once you carry one of their leather pieces you will fall in love with the hardware and quality.

  • CielBelle

    I agree with the handbags. I usually buy the most basic looking ones without the buckles and the hooplas. I love the simplicity of Kate Spade bags… I usually get them when they have the surprise sale

  • Gia T.

    Ditto on the shoes, bag, and coat splurges (one day Burberry, one day I will have you!). I also pay more for good underwear, especially well-fitting bras, and nice tops, particularly knits.

    I try to find deals when it comes to plain old t-shirts and pants too, and until recently, never bought a pair of jeans over $30 in my life, though I just splurged on designer jeans because the fit was pretty great, though we’ll see how that goes in the long run.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Underwear is worth the money. The cheaper stuff actually falls/slides off my butt (really.. no kidding).

      Designer jeans to me are worth it if they’re comfortable. I like Citizens but in a certain wash — the super soft cotton.

  • Kathy

    My guilty pleasure is handbags. Coach, Modalu, Vera Bradley. I buy good quality shoes because of a foot problem I’ve had for years. But since I’m retired, my wardrobe consists mainly of polo shirts and jeans or shorts. I have a few high quality suits and dresses in case a wedding or funeral comes up that I need to attend.

  • Charlotte

    Thanks for the link!
    Also, by the looks of it, we have very similar styles right down to the le pliage bag! Great minds really DO think alike 😉

  • Renee

    If you like artisan Jewellery and you want the real thing check Etsy.

    I got 4 sterling silver rings from etsy sellers for $180 (Not including postage. Postage to Australia is a bit steep). And not that nasty weekend-market quality stuff either.

    To answer your question, I splurge on coats, shoes (I have really wide, sensitive feet), umbrellas, and sometimes dresses. I’ll fork out extra for anything that is sufficiently wide in the butt and narrow in the waist to fit properly off the rack. I always buy good handbags but I never pay full price for them. You’d have to mad to spend more than $200 on a handbag when you can get made-in-Italy for $150 if you buy them on clearance.

    You are right about jeans. They’re nearly always made of heavy material and the manufacturers haven’t figured out how to make them out of polyester (yet). You just have to find a pair that fits.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I do go to Etsy 🙂 You can get cheaper necklaces handmade there than in a store.

      I too, also bought sterling silver rings and love them.. I basically overhauled my jewellery wardrobe this year. LOL!

      How can you splurge on umbrellas??

      • Renee

        @save. spend. splurge.: OK probably not *splurge* on umbrellas. But I hate having cheap ones. If you spend a bit more they look so much nicer and last longer. I don’t know if they really count as part of an outfit. I consider them to be an accessory 😛

  • SarahN

    Gotta agree with you, with respects to a great coat. I wish it was colder in Australia, cause a coat looks so polished – between my woolen one with a drop waist and a navy trench, I’m sorted, and then I have two (very cheap and I know it) cropped jackets – I want to replace them, but not until I find something that’s suitable quality.

    I also am picky about shoes – cause my feet hurt so easily. Just today I returned a pair to buy another pair, which have the softest leather, and rubber nubs on the soles, which will be perfect for all the walking I plan to do in them!

    I don’t even wear a watch, but I have a Guess one. Only wear it on planes. And cheap jewelry – just bought a $10 costumey ring at the thrift shop, v content!

  • Serena T.

    I like to break every rule, but you have to know where the box is to think outside of it!

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