Good news! It doesn't cost a million dollars to look like a million dollars. We can't all be celebrities or influencers that are showered with new, free apparel every season. Most of us can add a few new pieces every season but not a whole new wardrobe. There are a few simple style tips that will help you to make every outfit look expensive (without spending your whole paycheck). Spoiler: none of these tips involve "investing" in a new Chanel bag or a pair or Louboutin shoes.
- Watch the Fit:
- Clothing that fits your body well will always look good. Check for areas like the waist band, pant length, and sleeve length. The length and width of these areas will depend on the intended silhouette. For example, it is very difficult to find skinny jeans that hit at the perfect spot on your ankles, especially when shopping at affordable, fast fashion stores. But if you find a pair that fits perfectly everywhere else you can take your jeans to a tailor and have them hem them for around $15 in most cases. That minor change can make your $25 jeans look like $200 jeans. Minor alterations can make your whole outfit look way more elevated.
- Check the Material:
- Look for materials that look more expensive, like suede, silk, linen, and cotton. Avoid polyesters and man-made materials because they will not hold up as well over time. They may look cute in the store, but after a wear or a wash they will degrade quickly. Natural fibers will age much better and look more expensive. For denim, look for something without stretch because again, it will hold up much better over time.
- Be Selective with Color:
- At fast fashion stores, stick to neutral colors. Neutrals tend to look higher fashion and more timeless. A black and white color palette will never go out of style. Also, bright colored fast fashion items tend to fade very quickly in the wash, which is not a good look.
- If you do like to add color to your wardrobe, make sure that your color palette is complimentary. Stick to either a monotone color palette (all one color), or colors that have the same tone (warm vs. cool). From there you can mix and match colors and patterns, but keeping everything in the same color and tone family will make your outfit much more cohesive.
- Thoughtful layering and mixing will make your outfit look much more high-end. Wearing a thin turtleneck under a belted blazer or a thin strap jumpsuit, or skinny black trousers under a dress are a few examples of how to do elevated layering. In the summer, you could pair denim shorts with a crop top and a sheer duster for a light-weight layered look. Further layering of colors, textures, and patterns can really take a basic outfit to the next level.
- Be Careful of Trends:
- I rarely meet a trend I'm not into. But, trends can look tacky if you try to do too many at once. A pop of neon or tie-dye is cool, but if you try to pair tie-dye bike shorts with dad sneakers and a pearl hair accessory your outfit is going to be all over the place. Also, you should stick to what you really like. If you are making purchases based on trends, make sure it is because you really like the items and not because you feel like everyone has it.
- Do Your Hair and Makeup:
- If your hair and makeup is done you will instantly look more put together. If your hair and makeup are on point you can be wearing jeans and a t-shirt or a track suit and still look elevated.
- The Details:
Jewelry: Sleek, minimal gold jewelry will always look good. Jewelry is a great investment because it can be worn for years and years without going out of style. Like doing your hair and makeup, jewelry can also make any outfit look more elevated. In the words of the one and only Jennifer Lopez, "A woman should never go without earrings, that is an opportunity missed."
Belts: I have been an Olivia Palermo style stan for years, and one thing I've noticed is that she wears a belt with almost every outfit. A thoughtful belt choice can really pull an outfit together and define your waistline in a flattering way.
Handbag: I promised I wouldn't recommend buying a Chanel bag. And I won't. There are so many chic, affordable handbags available for less than $500. My tip is to buy a classic shape in a material that will hold up well over time. I like a neutral cognac leather crossbody or top handle bag that can transition from season to season. I love the look of a white handbag or a suede handbag, but unfortunately I have learned that they get easily scuffed or stained and are very difficult to clean. For that reason, I recommend a natural leather or black leather handbag for keeping your outfit looking high-end for the long haul.
- Don't Forget the Shoes:
- Match your shoes to the weather, your day, and the style of the rest of your outfit. Avoid wearing dark, heavy shoes in the summer. Also, you will always look better if you are comfortable in what you are wearing. Choose shoes that let you walk comfortably and that are appropriate for the temperature and weather. Also, a pointed toe will always look chic.
- Always Iron or Steam:
- Don't leave the house with wrinkles! They are distracting and will cheapen the look of any outfit. Pro tip: if you're in a hurry or traveling, try Wrinkle Release Spray. I keep a travel sized bottle with me for quick touch ups when necessary.