How to look expensive on a budget

I have expensive taste and I love fashion… which doesn’t suit my bank account. In the last few years I’ve been honing my style and my wardrobe, picking up staples and trend pieces along the way, without getting into major credit card debt. My style touches on many different trends, but I always try to look put together and polished. I am an obsessive shopper with my shoe count scarily creeping up to triple figures and I’m therefore (out of necessity) the biggest bargain hunter you’ve ever met.

Here are my tips to look expensive on a budget:

1. Style is everything

It clicked recently that if I want people to take me seriously, I better start dressing like an adult. Polished and smart is key – that means tailored pieces, blouses and cute accessories. Ditch the hoodies, leggings and baggy tees! However, although my general style is classic, I like to mix it up with random fun pieces, like a patent pink shoe in a funky shape or a fun take on a classic like a printed trouser or blazer.

Extra tip: If you want to make your outfit look more expensive, make sure your clothes are polished and tidy (ironed and in good condition)!

2. Pick the right fabrics

Fabrics are essential to not only the look of your clothes but their longevity too, as many cheap materials will disintegrate and bobble in the wash. The thicker and heavier the material the more expensive it will look. And… when buying items with metal hardware, go for less not more!

Kim K has inspired everyone to do crop tops and body con skirts but honey, she does it in Chanel and Herve not Missguided. You can spot cheap, thin fabric a mile off. My number one rule? Avoid jersey. My number 2 rule? Be very careful with leather. Faux leather can easily look very cheap and shiny!

This brings me on nicely to my next point…

3. Know when to splurge

Although many of my my most worn and loved items are Primark and Zara, my favourites pieces are my ‘splurges’. I have a few major designer bags which when worn with a high street outfit just kick it up a notch. I am a huge fan of bags and bag designers, so for me, these bags are worth the price tag. Quality jewellery also does a lot for an outfit. A great watch and a simple necklace and a few rings made from gold or silver are must-haves in a grown up girl collection.

I would also say that a great jacket is worth splurging on (bet you thought I would say shoes… nope, Primark shoes are the bomb). When buying a leather jacket I always go for real leather or suede. It’s worth saving a bit harder for as a great jacket in a classic cut makes any outfit and will last years and years.

When not to splurge:

– Knitwear

– Basic blouses and t-shirts

– Costume jewellery

– Going out outfits

– Ballet flats / flat sandals

– Summer dresses

– Jeans

3. Do your research 

I rarely pay full price for anything. It’s all about the discount code! It’s also good to be signed up to email newsletters from your favourite brands as you’ll know when the sales are on.

I scour the high street brands’ online stores constantly – in fact, I never shop in store because I hate it. Crowds, snarky shop assistants, getting hot and agitated in the changing rooms – not worth it. Online shopping also gives you a chance to find shops you wouldn’t normally look at. I’ve bought some gorgeous accessories and shoes at Matalan and Dorothy Perkins that I get loads of compliments on – but I’d never have dreamt of stepping foot in there!

Here are my favourite places to nab a bargain:

– Matalan and Dorothy Perkins for shoes and clutch bags

– Primark for everything (you just have to be willing to rummage and try a million things on!)

– Gap and Marks & Spencers for classic pieces

– Zara for trend pieces

– H&M is my favourite high street store – incredible basics and even more incredible trend pieces! (and insanely low prices)

There are so many great options on the high street – you just need to know where to look! Honing your style takes time and it’s important to know what you want to buy to build certain looks, rather than just buying things as you see them. I love Pinterest for this – I use it to look for street style inspiration (and to see what my fave Olivia Palermo has been wearing) and then I pin things I like from online stores on my boards. I’m then able to plan what I want to buy and how to build up and plan my outfits. Check out my inspiration Pinterest board below:


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