How to Look Expensive Regardless of Your Budget

Champagne style on a beer budget.

naomi campbell and kate moss

Dave Benett / Getty Images

Repeat after me: Having a great sense of style and having an unlimited budget are not mutually exclusive. In fact, some of the most adorned streetwear looks on social media mix high-end and affordable pieces, representing a classy, personalized look that happens to follow the trend.

The key to looking expensive is actually pretty simple: Confidence, a couple of tailored pieces, and good fit. “If you’re unsure of your outfit, everyone else around you will be too,” says wardrobe stylist, Noah Diaz

Britt Theodora, celebrity fashion stylist, also suggests focusing on texture and fabric. “When we see rich cashmeres, luxurious silk, and clean cotton, it always tends to look more expensive. My mantra? Less is more when it comes to looking expensive.”

Ready to elevate your existing wardrobe? From ensuring everything is steamed and pressed, to finding a good tailor and opting for monochrome colors, here's how to dress the best you can with what you already have. In tandem with some of our favorite looks from Instagram It-Girls, we rounded up eight stylist-approved tips for making your outfit look more expensive. Because dressing expensive doesn’t have to actually be expensive.

Meet the Expert

Noah Diaz is an editorial and celebrity stylist who has worked with Alexa Chung, Azealia Banks, and more.


Britt Theodora is a New York-based stylist who has dressed Pete Davidson, Sofia Bryant, and more.


Esther Kim is the founder of New York-based fashion label Into The Night.


Amanda Greyson is the style director of Free People.

Tip 1: Tailor Everything

Every well-dressed person will tell you that getting your staple clothing items tailored can make a world of a difference in your wardrobe. A great tailor will be experienced at fitting your jeans or tops to your exact frame to make sure everything hits properly.

Tip 2: Steam or Press

To avoid looking like you just rolled out of bed, Diaz recommends steaming everything before you leave your house for a wrinkle-free, polished look. “Regardless of the price tag, clothing in poor condition that is visibly pulled out of a drawer or marinating on your ‘clothing chair’ (we all have one) without being ironed, never looks good,” Esther Kim, co-founder of Into The Night tells Byrdie. Portable steamers are a cost-efficient option and can easily be taken with you on the go.

And we get it, it might be time consuming or tedious, but taking the extra five to 10 minutes to steam or press your clothes could be the difference between a thoughtless outfit and an instant polish to even the most lived-in pieces. But of course, if you are pressed for time, a depiller or a lint roller for your sweaters and T-shirts can work too.

Tip 3: Choose Quality Staples


Closet staples are the items in your closet that create a strong foundation for your statement pieces (more on those later). By taking care of your staples (washing or dry cleaning properly, steaming, and tailoring) your outfit options will be unlimited.

Tip 4: Monochrome It Out


One of the easiest ways to add extra spice to an outfit is with tonal or monochrome pieces. Theodora often styles her clients in identical colored tops and skirts while changing the textures to add a bit of dimension. Monochrome outfits are not only incredibly elongating, but they look effortless, put together, and very expensive.

Tip 5: Add a Blazer

Amanda Greyson, styling director at Free People, believes blazers are the surefire way at elevating even the simplest of outfits. “Try adding a blazer to a simple hoodie and denim look, finishing with a baseball hat and high-top trainers,” she suggests. “This will instantly make your look feel more luxe for all those weekend errands. Or, for date night, add an oversized blazer to a silk black dress and easy bootie.”

Tip 6: Elevated Accessories

If you are stuck on how to make your clothing look expensive, why not start with your accessories. “You can’t go wrong with a good purse," Diaz tells Byrdie. "Whether you splurge on a new one, or find it at a secondhand shop, a bag can always elevate the look.” In addition to a bag, you can also choose a chic hat, sunglasses, statement jewelry, or socks for a lavish upgrade to any outfit.

Tip 7: Button Downs

The best part about button downs is their versatility. “You can dress them up or down, layer them over a graphic tee, or under a sweater or leather jacket.” says Greyson. Her suggestion to transition from the office to after-work drinks or dinner is to get it oversized so it feels more relaxed.

Tip 8: Invest in Statement Pieces

Yes, statement pieces are an investment. They cost a lot more than your basics or staples, but the benefit you get out of them could last you a lifetime. In the long run, it actually saves you money and is the sustainable option when it comes to avoiding landfills.

Related Stories