How To Look Expensive On a Budget

In this article, I am going to teach you how to look bougie on a budget. If you read my post about the things I learned in my twenties you would know that I never used to care about looking expensive. I would buy the cheapest clothes I could find and throw them away as soon as they went out of style. But as I have gotten older and I’ve become more established in my career, my perspective on clothing has changed. I’ve learned that the way a woman dresses says a lot about her. People are always judging you and while I’d like to say I don’t care what they think, the truth is that to some degree, it matters what people think of you. And buying the right clothes will help you create a wardrobe that will last you a long time and portray you in the way you want

Stick To Mostly Neutrals

The first, but the simplest way to look expensive on a budget is to stick to neutral colors. It’s unusual to see women of the upper echelon wearing hot pinks, teals, and purples. Generally, you see whites, nudes, blacks, and browns, and for good reason—they are classic and easy to match. Recently, a neutral color range is something I have tried to implement into my wardrobe. I buy colors here and there to keep things interesting but mostly stick to neutral colors. The whites, blacks, and nudes are almost guaranteed to stay in style (so long as you are sticking to simple pieces). It also makes it insanely easy to style an outfit when all of the items look good together. I’m not saying that you have to throw wads of cash but if you want to buy a pricier piece, it’s more justifiable when you know it goes with everything and will still be trendy for years to come.

Choose The Right Materials

So much of how to look expensive comes down to the materials and the quality your clothing appears to have. As I have gotten older, I have learned to easily distinguish a forever 21 top from one that is a little nicer.

Choose fabrics that whisper elegance and pieces that are built to last—wool, cashmere, leather, linen, and many others. Feel the material, how does it feel? Is it thick, soft, warm? If it feels like you can puncture it easily with a pencil or it’s thin enough to see through, skip it. Quality material will generally not reveal your undergarments (there are exceptions but use your judgment). Pull the clothes at the seams and see if there are any gaps, if there are, it is a sign of a poorly made item.

Do Something With Your Hair

This one seems daunting (especially to me—someone who has never done anything with her hair) but it doesn’t have to be. “Doing something with your hair” doesn’t mean you have to concoct an elaborate updo or flowing mermaid waves. Do anything with it! This could be a low bun in the back of your head, a high ponytail, running a straightener through it, you name it. Just don’t make it look like you just rolled out of bed—that’s all. High-class women don’t stroll around with bedhead, you shouldn’t either.

Wear (Somewhat) Pointy Shoes

Next on the list for how to look expensive is to wear pointy shoes. Now I know that this one seems silly, but once you think about it, you will know why it’s on here. Pointy shoes shout high falutin but not necessarily in a bad way. Get a couple of nice pairs of pointy loafers or heels. And for clarification, they don’t need to be the pointiest shoes that you can find. To be honest, I prefer more of a pointed square shape rather than a straight triangle. I love these Sam Edelman nude ones, perfect for summer and spring. A classic pair of brown loafers like these Sperry Top-Siders are a wardrobe essential for looking expensive.

Accessorize, Thoughtfully

I thought about making a separate section for jewelry, handbags, scarfs, etc. But I figured I could sum up the takeaway altogether. Next on the list when you’re thinking about how to look expensive is accessorizing. But doing so mindfully. That means choosing a few classy pieces of jewelry like a chain necklace, pearls, or a nice pair of small hoops (emphasis on small) to elevate your outfit. This could also be tossing a simple neutral shoulder bag over your shoulder or adding a nice scarf. The key to accessorizing thoughtfully is to not do too much at once. Don’t wear a statement scarf with a statement bag and dramatic jewelry. Choose one thing you want to be the “star” accessory and choose more subtle options for everything else.

I would recommend are having a few basic (Basik, if you will—wink) accessories in your closet and a few more trendy or statement pieces that you can throw on an otherwise simple outfit. This will be easy to do with a neutral wardrobe 🙂

Wear Fitted Clothes

This one sounds like a no brainer, but expensive women have tailored clothes. So if you want to look expensive, you should make sure your clothes fit. If you are wearing looser pants, pair them with a tighter, more fitted shirt or vis versa. While sometimes it’s easier to just accept pants that “could be” one size smaller or shoes that are just a little too tight. The truth is that you won’t wear them nearly as much as you would if they fit properly and clothes that don’t fit like they are supposed to can look underwhelming.

Keep Your Makeup Simple

The next thing on the list of looking expensive is portraying natural beauty. This means sticking to makeup that looks like your skin and colors that seem natural (your browns, peach, and nude colors). Check out my easy spring makeup tutorial for tips on how to do this. If it looks like you’re wearing too much makeup, you’re doing it wrong. Your face should look naturally beautiful. If you want to wear red lipstick, pair it with a subtle eye look—a light brown eyeshadow all over the lid with some mascara. Similarly, if you want to go with more of a “nighttime” eye look, combine it with a nude lip. Ditch the fake strip lashes and caked-on foundation. Elegance is a natural look that makes people think, “she’s pretty” rather than “her makeup is pretty.” Take a less is more approach to beauty and you will immediately look more bougie and expensive.

Disclaimer: While this post is not sponsored in any way (I chose and paid for any of the products or services featured), I do make a small commission on some of the affiliate links above. If you chose to purchase any of the items through the links, I appreciate your support in that way!

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