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How to make your clothes and accessories look more expensive

Just because you're not a millionaire, doesn't mean you can't look like one.

There’s just something about an expensive piece of clothing: the fabric feels richer, it fits better and it lasts longer. And then there’s that special kind of high you get when wearing it, knowing that you’re clad in something luxurious. Although we would love buy cashmere coats, Italian leather boots and designer handbags all day and everyday, most of us don’t have a bank account big enough.

But just because you don’t have a six figure salary doesn’t mean you can’t look totally chic. If you know what to look for and how to wear the things you already own, you can look like a million bucks regardless of how much you spent. Here are our top tips to making your clothes and outfits look more expensive.


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Ditch the hardware 

Literally cut it off.

Why? Well, inexpensive hardware and embellishments look cheap. These elements of clothes, handbags and shoes are a lot more expensive to produce. Especially when they’re made well. Since most high street stores have to cut costs to keep prices low, the quality of hardware or embellishments is quite low. Gold hardware quickly loses it’s colour and silver tarnishes. It’s not quite the right shape and it feels flimsy.

As a result, hardware and embellishments are one of the easiest ways to tell if something is expensive or not. So what do you do? Either avoid buying it or cut it off (neatly).

My favourite pair of black t-bar sandals originally came with a tacky gold bar across the toe. I unpicked the stitching that held it on and now I have a basic and much more expensive looking pair of shoes.

Image source: Instagram user talisa_sutton


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Pay attention to stitching and construction

Quality, high end clothing is all about the craftsmanship. Loose threads, wonky seams and poor stitching are tell tale signs of lower-quality, cheap clothing. When you’re out shopping, always pay attention to workmanship and how well it’s been sewn. Don’t buy anything that’s been poorly constructed - ever. While you may love the colour of that $10 top on the sale rack, if the stitching isn’t right, it will look raggedy after a few wears and it will make everything else you’re wearing look cheap too.

As for things you already own, always cut off loose threads and repair any damaged hems or seams immediately before the problem gets worse. If you’re not an expert with a needle and thread, there are some great DIY videos on YouTube that will help you get it right.

Image source: Instagram user apairandaspare


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Fabric is everything

Not only are premium fabrics nicer to wear, they last longer. Synthetic fabrics like rayon and viscose break more easily, are  prone to shrinking in the wash and they can pill after just a few wears. Nothing screams cheap like a misshapen, pilling jumper.

Always look at the label and make sure the clothes you’re purchasing are made from natural fibres like wool, cotton, silk, hemp and cashmere. These fabrics are more breathable, durable and they look more high end.

There are two exceptions to the synthetic versus natural rule. Although linen is a luxurious, natural fabric, I would avoid it because of its tendency to crease. Also, imitation suede can often look just as good as the real thing so synthetic fabric is not necessarily a no-no.

Image source: Instagram user apairandaspare


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Don’t buy cheap looking buttons

Just like with hardware, a cheap button is a dead giveaway that your clothes aren’t expensive. When you’re shopping, always take a look at buttons and make sure they’re not flimsy and plastic looking. If you already own something but you aren’t too impressed with the buttons, consider replacing them with something a little nicer. You can find some really beautiful replacement buttons at Lincraft or Spotlight.

Image source: Instagram user harperandharley


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Length matters

Sleeves and legs that are too short for you look tacky. The odd length looks as though the a clothing has cheaply tailored or that the manufacturer was trying to skimp on fabric.

Ideally, you’d want to have all your pants and shirts tailored to the right length for your body. Since that can be a bit pricey, there are plenty of handy DIY YouTube tutorials to help you. If all else fails, always opt for things that are a bit too long rather than too short.

Image source: Instagram user harperandharley


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Dress minimally

Have a look at the truly stunning and ultimately chic outfits you love. You’ll probably find that many of them are very simple and minimal. Simple outfits let expert tailoring and luxurious fabrics do the talking and allow pieces to truly shine. Dressing minimally will always look more expensive than piling on scarves and bangles. After all, in the wise words of Coco Chanel, you should take one thing off before you leave the house.

Image source: Instagram user friendinfashion


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Splurge on basics

But buy cheap trend pieces.

Have you ever heard someone say: “don’t spend $100 on a white t-shirt, it’s just a white t-shirt”? I have and it’s so wrong! Think about how often you wear a white t-shirt. Once a week? Maybe more? Exactly.

It’s baffling that some people will drop $500 on a distinctive, sequined party dress that they’ll wear once and leave sitting in their closet for the rest of forever. But when it comes to buying a t-shirt that you wear with almost everything, $50 is just too much.

If you invest in the pieces you wear almost daily, it’s not hard to look effortlessly chic. Buy one high quality white tee, a pair of plain but designer jeans and a real leather jacket. Once you have those three pieces, you’re set.

Image source: Instagram user beginningboutique


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Stick to monochrome

Generally, basic monochrome pieces look more elegant and sophisticated than brightly coloured ones. This is particularly true when you team monochrome pieces together. Plus, you can get a lot more wear out of staple black and white pieces.

Image source: Instagram user friendinfashion


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If you love colour, keep it all one tone

If you’re not ready to give up on colour but still want your outfit to look high end, dress all in the one tone. Selectively styling an outfit so that you’re wearing just shades of blue or shades of grey will help to make your overall outfit feel more premium.

Image source: Instagram user kimkardashian


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Add plain or expensive looking accessories

Accessorising with a plain leather handbag or branded jewellery is another way to make everything you’re wearing look a lot more high end. A simple (perhaps very inexpensive) outfit topped with a Tiffany’s key necklace or Chloe bangle will immediately appear far more premium than it is.

Just remember to keep your handbags free of hardware (unless it’s top quality) and don’t overly accessorise. Just a few key pieces is more than enough.

Image source: Instagram user kaity_modern


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Add a monogrammed accessory

Back in the day, monogrammed accessories were reserved for those who could afford to pay the extra to have their Louis Vuitton leather goods personalised. Not anymore. Companies like The Daily Edited and Mon Purse are all about personalised and monogrammed leather accessories that are relatively affordable. Nothing will make your outfit look more expensive than a monogrammed leather clutch under your arm.

Image source: Instagram user thedailyedited


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Don’t jump on the trend bandwagon

Pieces that are very obviously part of a current trend like suede fringing, jogger pants or flares will date quickly and will leave you looking very last-season. Your clothes and outfits in general will look a lot more expensive if you stick to buying classic pieces that transcend current trends. You’ll also get way more wear out of a classic piece of clothing than that “it-was-cool-at-the-time” bomber jacket.

Image source: Instagram user showpo


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Beauty counts too

You’d be surprised at how much good grooming can affect the perception of an outfit. This doesn’t mean you have to start caking on your makeup. But a statement lip or polished ballerina bun can add that little extra element your outfit was missing.

Image source: Instagram user gigihadid

Mia Steiber

Mia Steiber is a journalist at finder.com.au with a serious shopping habit and an addiction to gold jewellery. Her talents include tracking down one-off or almost sold out pieces and knowing the sizing charts for just about every brand.

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