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How to Make Your Clothes Look Expensive — Without the Splurge

Spring is here and it’s almost hot girl summer, so if you’re anything like me, you're looking to revamp your wardrobe on a budget. While I love saving money while shopping, I don't want to give my money to fast fashion websites like Shein and Romwe that rely on unethical labor practices, so I am here to help you out if you have the same ethical dilemma as me. 

I personally define “looking expensive” as looking put-together. Sure, if you are dripping in designer brands you can look expensive, but there are other ways. I think if you keep your outfits simple, classy, and chic, you will instantly look more expensive. Here are a few of my tips for looking your best without breaking the bank. 


Some of my favorite ways to look expensive on a budget are not knock-off designer brands or fast fashion trends, but wearing staple accessories like hoops, simple necklaces, dainty rings, and other everyday jewelry. I love gold jewelry, but silver works too! Find which color is best for your skin tone and accessorize with that metal. Earrings, necklaces and rings are a great way to dress up any look.

Etsy has a ton of amazing shops that sell handcrafted jewelry. Simple jewelry elevates any look, and there are so many options to choose from on Etsy. The best part about Etsy is that the products are homemade, and your money goes to small businesses.

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Wardrobe staples 

Another great way to look expensive on a budget is with simple staple pieces. These simple to wear and versatile pieces can elevate any look and be styled in many different ways. Try to include blazers, solid-colored tops, boyfriend jeans, white sneakers and of course jewelry in your everyday attire. 

Luckily, staple pieces are easy to shop for at most major stores. Madewell can get a little pricey, but their items also always look great. They’re known for their jeans in particular, but you can find other basics like blazers there as well.

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Custom tailoring

Nothing looks better than an article of clothing that sits just right on your body. We are all born in different bodies, so even two people who are usually mediums won’t look the same in everything. Getting items tailored to fit your body makes you look so put together and so expensive, and you can usually get it done at your local dry cleaner or tailor for a pretty inexpensive price.

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Define your style 

Certain styles and vibes look more expensive than others. For example, a preppy look gives off a more expensive vibe than a boho outfit. If you have a consistent personal style, you can spend less money when you are shopping, as many of your clothing items and accessories go with each other. Bouncing between styles can look cheap, especially when you have a few items from each style that don’t go with other items in your closest. Once you define your personal style, shop for that!

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Related: 5 Spring 2021 Fashion Trends to Look Out For 

Second-hand shopping 

If you’re looking to get more expensive clothing for a cheap price, I recommend thrifting or consignment shopping. I have found some trash at thrift stores, but I have also found a Dooney & Bourke purse and a Saks Fifth Avenue blazer. It takes some digging, but look through your local thrift stores and you might find treasure. 

If you’re new to secondhand shopping, there are a few places you can get started:

Plato's Closet 

If you are into thrifting but want some nicer items, I would recommend Plato’s Closet. It depends on your area, but I can often find great items at Plato’s that are priced very affordably. 

Local boutique thrift stores 

Avoiding chain thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army might allow you to find more expensive-looking items. I often shop at a boutique thrift store in my college town that is much more selective than a large thrift store. 


Depop can get pricey, but they also have a lot of moderately priced clothes on their pages that can look very expensive. If you don’t like thrifting in real life, be sure to check out websites like Depop where you can secondhand shop from the comfort of your own bedroom. Be sure to take some time to look around the website because they have so much content. 

The Real Real 

The Real Real is a luxury consignment website. Like Depop, it can get pretty pricey, but it's much cheaper than buying these luxury items at full price. If you are obsessed with purses like me, The Real Real has a great collection. You can also look for clothing, watches, belts, scarves, wallets, and sunglasses. If you are looking to add luxury items to your wardrobe, The Real Real is a great place to look. 

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Remember the most important thing is how you feel in your clothing. Confidence looks better than any specific outfit, so make sure you feel confident and pretty in whatever you are wearing. Now you have my permission to go shopping!

The Her Campus National Editors write about products we love and think you’ll love too. Her Campus has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase. All products are in stock and all prices are accurate as of publication.

Grace is a Senior Media Art and Design major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She has lived in Virginia her whole life, but plans on moving to New York City after graduation. Gracie loves to travel and plans on being a travel writer post-grad. Her favorite places to visit were either Munich, Germany, or Cusco, Peru. Besides Her Campus, Gracie is in Gamma Phi Beta, works as the Creative Coordinator for Bluestone Communications JMU, and writes for the culture section of The Breeze, JMU's newspaper.
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