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Style > Fashion

How to Look Expensive On a Budget

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at New School chapter.

With Christmas just around the corner, holiday parties and all kinds of special gatherings are bound to be held. And if they call for more than just your traditional ugly sweater, it can be tricky to decide what to wear, especially if it’s a more formal event. Thus, I have gathered some of my favorite tips for looking expensive this winter season that don’t break the bank. 

One major note I’ll make before diving into these tips is that “looking expensive” doesn’t have to mean splurging on expensive labels or wearing designer clothes. With the right styling, your outfit could totally pass for something that came off the runway.


@zendaya via Instagram

There’s something about sticking to one color that just elevates your entire look. Take Valentino’s Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear showing, for example. Every single one of their models wore varying garments that were all the same vibrant shade of pink. In fact, the show was such a hit that celebrities like Zendaya and Florence Pugh were incorporating the monochromatic color scheme in their wardrobe rotations. (Sebastian Stan even wore an all-Valentino pink suit to the MET Gala!) You can apply this trend to any color of your choice, and if your clothes aren’t exactly the same shade, that’s okay too! It will create more of a gradient feel, which works just as well. 

Keep it neutral

@alexachung via Instagram

Color isn’t your thing? A timeless alternative that requires almost no effort is to opt for garments that come in neutral colors. Think blacks, whites, browns and beiges. Some good winter pieces to purchase in these colors are sweaters, pants, blazers and jackets. And the best part about neutrals is that you can style them with anything else in your wardrobe! 

Faux fur

@princess.sugarplumfairy via Instagram

Faux fur always reminds me of the “old money aesthetic” you may have seen at least once on your Instagram feed. Faux fur coats and shawls are definitely statement pieces that you can pull out for more special occasions, or if you simply want to elevate your winter outfit during this cold New York season. I’ve found this piece is best paired with dresses or the miniskirts + tights combo, but it works just as well with a good pair of pants. I actually purchased my favorite faux fur coat from Burlington, and it was only $24, much more budget-friendly compared to other stores.


@keachains via Instagram

It’s a common misconception that the more jewels around your neck, the more expensive you’ll look. And while this may be true in a handful of circumstances, it can look gaudy and over-the-top if it’s competing with your outfit. Dainty jewelry is one of the simplest and most elegant ways to dress up a look, especially when layered over a solid-colored top or dress. If you’re wearing a blouse with a dramatic neckline, opt for earrings instead of a necklace. And if you’re wearing a high-neck top, add a dainty necklace that you want to show off.


@tezza.barton via Instagram

You’re going to want a statement coat, especially in New York City. Coats are such versatile pieces to have in your wardrobe, and you can even layer them over a hoodie and sweatpants and still look effortlessly chic. TJ Maxx was super reliable when it came to finding high-quality coats for less. I even discovered a pink, tweed ZARA coat that was marked at just $20! 

Kea Humilde

New School '26

Kea Humilde is a New School first year intending to major in Journalism+Design and minor in Fashion Communications. When she's not busy shopping in the city and creating content, she's rooting for the Los Angeles Chargers.