How to Look Expensive on a Budget


Ladies in the house, come closer. Many of us indeed love high-end fashion and the sophistication it brings. I mean, a lot of us admire the fashion sense of top female icons like Beyonce, Rihanna, and Audrey Hepburn. We all wish to look rich and classy like them by dressing up the way they do and exuding the grace, elegance, and class that they exude. But let’s be real: not everyone can afford the designer price tags these women wear, especially in this Nigerian economy.

Regardless of all this, I have good news for you.

You do not have to break the bank to rock an expensive-looking style.

With a bit of understanding of ‘fashion formulas that defy trends,’ a dash of creativity, a sprinkle of confidence in between, and, of course, execution on your part, you will be well on your way to looking like a million bucks without having to spend a million dollars.

In this guide, I will be providing you with tips that will help you achieve the rich and classy look without spending much and also point out mistakes you should avoid that could bankrupt or cheapen your look. 

Without delay, let’s gooooo!

Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve the expensive look on a budget:

Invest in Classic and Timeless Pieces

Avoid purchasing trendy or fast-fashion pieces that always go out of style or season. Rather, invest in staple and classic pieces that are timeless. 

These staples are usually the core pieces that set the stage for a great ensemble, which means when you are buying, you should buy ones that are of great quality. Buying these classic, timeless pieces of clothing in great quality saves you a lot of money in the long run— even though it might cost a tad bit of money— as they will remain in good condition for a while.

Some of these classic, staple, and timeless pieces include a classic white crisp tee shirt, a white button-down shirt, jeans, a little black dress, a shirt dress, a black or navy blazer, a denim jacket, a trench coat, and flats. 

Note that you do not have to purchase these staple, classic, and timeless pieces all at once. Just buy them one at a time or as you can afford.   

Wear Clothes That Fit You

When purchasing your clothes, ensure you buy one that fits you perfectly— not too small or too big/baggy. A rich and classy look involves wearing clothes that are classic, timeless, and well-tailored to fit your body composition and flatter your figure. In essence, wear clothes that fit your body shape/type. Check out my post on this to know what your body type is and which clothes will flatter it. 

Also, you need to be best friends with your tailor, especially if they are good. You will need them, especially in instances where you buy classic clothing that is a bit bigger for you or when you need your clothes to fit you. A little cinch to the waist of your dress or hemming of your trousers makes a whole lot of difference to your appearance. 

Wear Neutral Colours

Do you want to look expensive? Then, stick to neutral or earthy colours. Neutral and earthy colours include black, brown, white, ivory, cream, khaki, beige, grey, olive green, and taupe. These colours have a way of giving you a richer and classy look than artificial colours. Artificial colours like purple, green, fuchsia, and neon yellow, especially on synthetic fabrics (more on this will be discussed later), have a way of cheapening your look. For a more effortless and classy look, stick to wearing colours that match your skin tone and hair colour. You can look at friendly tones for your skin using Coolors image picker. The wonder of wearing neutral colours is that it never goes out of style. They are also very versatile, meaning they match well with any colour or pattern, in case you want to add a little pop of colour or attitude to your clothing ensemble.

Aside from neutral colors, one color that looks effortlessly expensive and not cheap is red. Red is a bold color that looks very expensive and chic when properly styled. 

Invest in the Right Accessories

In your quest to look expensive and elegant, you need to have the right accessories. First thing first, jewelry. Go for pieces of jewelry that are dainty, sleek, and classic, which can be worn for an everyday look. For example, invest in a pearl necklace or a pearl drop necklace, a gold cuff bracelet, and croissant earrings. You can purchase statement jewelry like a long beaded necklace, which can add flair and chicness to any outfit. 

Other accessories you should invest in for the expensive and classy look include a good pair of shoes and boots, belts, and sunglasses—opt for the brown, oversized, cat eye-shaped ones (they look so elegant) or black wayfarer— silk scarfs (they have a way of adding richness to any outfit) wristwatch, and hats; opt for the Panama hat, Boater hat, Cloche hat, and fascinator hat for special occasions.

The final accessory you need is a bag. When purchasing a bag, opt for well-structured bags. And it does not have to be designers (duh). Overall, when purchasing these accessories, go with neutral colors for a more minimalist and expensive look.

P.S.: Ensure when accessorizing, you don’t go overboard with it. Less is more. 

Don’t Wear Rumpled Clothes!

Quick question: Why would anyone go outside of their house in wrinkled and rumpled clothes? Now, someone will say, “well, NEPA no dey bring light very well.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but at least they bring it once in a while. So go and iron your clothes. On a serious note, having wrinkle and crease-free clothes is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to look expensive. Thus, iron your clothes before wearing them to go out. Go to a laundromat if NEPA fails you. You definitely don’t want to look like your problem. 

Choose the Right Fabric 

Another way to look expensive on a budget is by choosing the clothes with the right fabric. This is because what gives away the price of a cloth is the material it was made of. When buying cloth, opt for ones made with natural fabrics like cashmere, linen, silk, cotton, wool, tweed, and suede. Although they might be a tad bit expensive, they are worth the investment. You also do not have to buy them all at once. 

There are also some synthetic fabrics (usually cheaper) that give off expensive vibes, which you can also opt for, like rayon, viscose, and elastane. However, you have to always be careful when buying synthetic fabric. Make sure you touch and feel the fabrics before buying the cloth. The fabric should at least be durable, thick, and delicate. 

Bonus tips:

  • Always stay neat. Ensure your clothes have no dirt, no holes, no stray threads sticking out, and no form of discoloration on them. 
  • Ensure you are well groomed. This means your hair should be neatly done, your nails are properly manicured and stick to classic red, French, or nude for nail design, maintain proper hygiene, and have a signature scent that does not smell cheap but just right— not too heavy, not too sweet, not too powdery.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that show your underwear. Also, avoid showing too much skin or cleavage. Showing too much skin and cleavages shows the amount of value you put on yourself. As the mama of elegance, Anna Bey said in her cheatsheet guide on “How to Look Expensive,” “vulgarity is declasse. 
  • Avoid wearing heels with platforms. They cheapen your look. Stick to classic pumps or court shoes or 
  • Stay away from fake designer items. You don’t want to look overly eager to impress others. 
  • Please avoid wearing big designer logos. You are not a walking billboard, sis. They look very tacky (aka trashy!) and not expensive or classy, which is not what we are aiming for (wink wink).
  • Finally, stand up straighter, smile more, and carry yourself with confidence. These are the main secrets to looking expensive without spending a dime. You are a QUEEN. Act like one!

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