Being an employee or a woman entrepreneur makes no difference when you’re planning on your working wardrobe: you want to figure out how to look expensive.

But, while the “minimize cost and maximize profit” is so practical when you plan on your business, it comes out you have no clue on how to apply it to your wardrobe, right?

Now, let’s leave behind the microeconomics nightmare, and let me show you how to look expensive on a budget!

How To Look Expensive On A Budget


#1 . Dress Cheap But Look Expensive – What To Buy


So you’re going out for a shopping session, and you’re very intrigued by that beautiful, affordable and extremely fashionable dress, right?
Expensive brands are extremely recognizable for “in vogue” items, which are the seasonal references, prints, patterns and cuts of the season. You’ll see those prints on their campaigns and they’ll make you believe that that’s what you need to look expensive.

Now, don’t let them fool you. The concept of looking expensive is directly linked with the one of elegance, and it comes out elegance and fashion are best friends, they often hang out together, but they’re not the same person!

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.
– Coco Chanel

So, what to do with the fashionable dress you’ve found? To buy or not to buy?

Well, if it’s someway of a “classic” you should buy it.  Classics are not time sensitive, and they are versatile. Sometimes they are also “in vogue”.

If you look well, most of the garments are classics, what turns them into “fashion” are the prints , patterns, logos and “accessories” – zippers, metal, crystals and other decorative elements.

Choosing classics is not about wearing only black and white or “serious” clothes, it’s all about keeping a non imitative and yet peculiar allure.
Just pick the classics in your closet and choose the colors that best suit you!


Striped lonsleeve T-shirt $15.50

Feigel Sunglasses By Aldo $12

Floral Belt Slim Jumpsuit $22.33

#2. How To Look Expensive With The Right Fabrics


Precious natural fabric is the first choice, and before going out for shopping, consider to open your closet and have a look inside..

  • Silk? Yes, always. It’s elegant, you can find it also in stores like Zara  and it is sophisticated!
  • Cotton: a good-quality cotton top, skirt or pant can give you enormous satisfaction. Look at the label, a little percentage of elastane will make the ironing easier and the clothes will look fresh, well pressed and more expensive for longer.

[Tweet “Touch the clothes to taste the fabric quality – the softer the better.”]

  • Wool and cashmere: it’s not easy to find pure wool or pure cashmere at cheap fashion retailers, and if you find them they’re of the poorest quality for a reason of costs. This will result in horrific bobbles and pilling on your cardigans and sweaters after one week ( check out mrs thrifty’s post if you already have bobbles!).  The solution?

When it comes to knit and tricot, same as cotton, touch the clothes and read the etiquette. A good compromise of softness, expensive appearance and quality is a mixed fabric of wool, mohair and a little acrylic, you can buy it for few money and look stylish and expensive.

  • Lycra: good quality lycra, sometimes mixed with silk yarn, is also flattering, just consider the fabric weight and its softness.

As a general rule, always touch the clothes to feel the softness and quality of the fabric, plus, read the inner label to chose what to buy and what to keep in your “faux-expensive” wardrobe!


Trina Turk Stacking Circles Dress

Lela Rose Purple Dress

#3. Get Picky – Look At The Details


This is what makes a big difference in expensive clothes and style. If you’ve ever participated to a product briefing with fashion designers, you know they can spend days deciding where to place a little rip in the clothes or the color and quality of the cotton yarn they’re using to refine the product.

They spend lots of time talking about very little things people will never notice on average, but be sure that once you wear a well refined garment, no matter how much it costs, you’ll look expensive.

What details should you check in order to look expensive?

  • The shirt’s buttons: Ugly plastic or natural shell? Consider you can always make a “button upgrade” to your shirts without spending a dime! 🙂
  • The seams: Are they straight or do the t-shirt and pants “twist” on one side or one leg? Is the cotton yarn strong enough for the purpose of the seam?
  • Other accessories: Maybe one of the dresses in your wardrobe is perfectly sewed, but the belt is so and so… it may be too heavy, looking to cheap and give the same appearance to the whole outfit. Will you dismiss the dress? No! Just dismiss the belt or the wrong accessory that came with the dress. Invest on a more flattering belt instead of buying an expensive dress.

Consider all these little things and pick the best refined pieces in your wardrobe. Upgrade them with little actions like changing the buttons if you can, this will instantly make a big difference on the overall aspect!


#4. How To Look Expensive Following Smell And Sound


Yes, we’re still talking about styling your working wardrobe to make you look expensive!

Have you ever bought or seen a cute bag or shoes, and then notices they’re really smelling like plastic? Well, that’s definitely bad plastic!

Ever heard a void sound coming from someone’s shoes? That’s the sound of empty plastic heels!!

If you want to look expensive just don’t spend your money on such poor quality items, they’re not even worth their little price. You better look around and find something else for the same price, believe me you can do it!

#5. Avoid Faux-Leather


Same as before, chap faux leather is just bad plastic. If you’re going to buy a faux-leather skirt or coat, don’t do it. There’s no way it will contribute to make you look expensive!

If you love “green” fabrics and don’t like leather, you can choose other flattering materials and treatments. Try suede for shoes and accessories and coated pants or jackets, they rock!

#6. Pick Your Size


If you’re still wondering how to look expensive, you can’t overlook wearing the right size! It is the starting point of every outfit, too big or too small is not good.

Are you loving the oversized style? That’s ok, you still have to buy your own size for that oversized style.

If a garment is not born and sold to be oversize why should you buy a bigger size? It’ll just look like you borrowed it from someone. Oversize items are oversize even when you buy an XS, so in the case, just buy your size!

On the other hand you may be an M size trying to fit S and XS. But, in this case you already know that trying to fit something smaller than your body is just frustrating, and you won’t look better. You can be a very thin woman, but if you wear undersized clothes it will always look as if you’re going to explode!

[Tweet “Just buy and wear your size, it will always compliment your body.”]

Now, go open your closet and throw out all the wrong sized clothes! 🙂

pick your size to look expensive

#7. Love Your Clothes


Even if you bought them for a ridiculous price, it doesn’t mean you have to stress your clothes. Take care of them, treat every item like an expensive designer piece and it will return you the love making you look expensive!

Wash your clothes gently, iron following the label instructions and they will look new and precious for a long time!

love your clothes look expensive

#8. Invest In Lingerie


Another key point in looking expensive on a budget is wearing excellent lingerie.

A good bra, in the right size, color and fabric is the basic of a stylish appearance. Imagine yourself wearing a fantastic Chanel dress, let’s say a white dress, with an old black lace bra that make your boobs fall down near the belly. Do you think you’d still look expensive?

Now imagine yourself wearing a no-brand-ten-bucks-cute-dress, and a good, seamless underwear that shapes your breast and reshapes your body. Can you see the difference?

I’m not talking about making your boobs look fake, they just have to be at their place, not hanging near your belly nor looking like two big tonsils under your face.

Choose a bra that can keep your breast on if it’s heavy or one that gives it a little roundness if you need some volume.

Next step is the color.

[Tweet “I know black is sexy, but a black bra under a white top is just no good.”]

To be honest, I don’t even like white on white or visible lace.. I know I’m maybe too strict on this point, but I think the best lingerie is the one you cannot see. After all you can always use laces and colors on non transparent or heavier fabrics!

If you want to stay on a budget and keep the perfect shape of a good underwear, just buy a couple of high quality seamless bras of the color of your skin.

Invest on them as wardrobe basic, and start spending your money on sexy underwear only once you have your basics!

invest in lingerie

#9. Do A Statement With Accessories


Once you’ve figured how to look expensive with the clothes inside your closet, choose an outfit, wear it and have a look in the mirror.

Is there something missing? Is there too much stuff on you?

[Tweet “Just remember to use accessories to give life to your clothes, to enhance your figure.”]

You are the protagonist, everything you put on has to compliment you. Are you wearing straight pants and a solid top? Get a glowing face with a luminous maxi collar, or enrich your arms with one or two metal bangles.

Just remember you’re not a mannequin ( or a manneQueen.. 🙂 ) in a  jewelry shop. Plus, if you wear all your accessories today what will you wear tomorrow?


#10. Hair, Makeup And… Posture


While the previous 9 steps on how to look expensive were all about the clothes, the last and uber-important tip is all about you.

In fact, as you’ve seen at this point, looking expensive is not just a question of clothes or money. Think how expensive would you look if you got out wearing designer clothes marked with dirty spots, wrinkles or unstitched hems. You wouldn’t look expensive, would you?

Were talking about grooming ladies, that’s one of the most important things to keep in mind when trying to look expensive. Don’t think that little oil spot is just a detail, it isn’t. According to Donna Pank Allen of professional skill builders

Good grooming sends the message to people that you like yourself and take care of yourself.

Keep your hair fresh, healthy and styled, enhance your face with a natural makeup and keep your head up and your back straight!

Do a self-love action before going out – spray a touch of your favorite perfume in the air and then jump into its cloud!

The untold rule to follow, is to keep in mind that you are beautiful and unique just the way you are. You can improve your style and enhance your shape to feel more confident and gain strength!


Now tell me something about you. How important is your image for you and for your success in life and career? Is there a moment you felt a disaster or really charged just because of what you were wearing? And what are your secret weapons to look expensive? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s get in touch!

how to look expensive on a budget

Learn how to style yourself confident


PS: One more thing… I put hours and hours of work to write my posts, because I want to help women to live their life feeling on top! So I really appreciate when you comment and share my posts all the way around! 🙂


photo credits: WeHeartIt