10 Ways to Avoid Looking Cheap
By Amy de Klerk
Unfortunately, not all of us can afford to dress designer from head to toe. However, just because your entire wardrobe costs the same as one Balenciaga blouse does not mean it has to look like it does. Here are 10 tips and tricks to fool others into thinking your very affordable ensemble actually cost the earth.
1. Don't buy the high-street 'It' item of the season
Every year, there is a top, dress, coat or pair of shoes from one of the big high-street stores that competes with the catwalk to be the item to nab. While it is popular for a reason – basically because it's hit the fashion nail on the head – everyone knows where it's from. Avoid buying this piece because you'll fool absolutely no one into thinking it is expensive (as they probably have it too).
2. Avoid materials that can't be done well on a budget
Lace, silk and patent leather are all lovely when done properly, but are also a sure-fire giveaway that your outfit is cheap if they aren't done quite right. Instead of lace, choose a simpler sheer material, swap a patent leather jacket for a classic dark denim and buy a floaty cotton top instead of a cheap silk shirt.
3. Steer clear of embellishment
In a similar vein to the above, over-embellishment can be beautiful, but not when done cheaply. Nothing is going to be able to compete with a hand appliquéd gown from Elie Saab, so don't attempt it. There's no bigger giveaway than a bejewelled dress that is missing some of its jewels. Instead, pick more basic pieces and make an impact with your accessories or some colour instead.
4. Be aware of linings
Few things reveal that your clothing is cheap more than when it is slightly see-through (unless it's designed to be sheer, of course). So never buy a top, skirt or dress that doesn't have a proper lining. If you're unsure, test drive the dress in daylight first (not just in the dark changing-room) before you decide to keep it.
5. Remember that dark colours fade
If you buy something inexpensive in a dark hue, remember that after a few washes, the colour is going to start to fade. If you opt for whites, creams and lighter pastel tones, you're less likely to notice the change in colour.
6. Look after your clothes (no matter how cheap they are)
Missing buttons, loose threads and scuffed shoes all make it painfully obvious just how affordable your ensemble was. You would never let your Gucci loafers get ruined, you would sew back on a button if your Dior blazer lost one and you would go to the end of the earth to get rid of a stain on your beloved cashmere jumper – so do the same with your cheap clothes. If you show them a bit of love, they will look a lot better, and for a lot longer.
7. Stay away from stretch
When it comes to buying jeans – and fooling people into thinking you have bought expensive ones – get as far away from jeggings as you can. Try buying straight-leg or 'Mom' jean styles that aren't too trend-focused (because this can be a giveaway too) but that won't stretch across your body, making the material look thin and unsubstantial, and therefore cheap. Dark denim also tends to look more expensive, but as we've said, be aware that it can fade more easily.
8. Keep your jewellery as simple as possible
When it comes to wearing fake diamonds or gold, the simpler the better. While it might be a trend at the time to opt for an oversize stone or chunky gold jewellery, nobody is going to believe that you're wearing Harry Winston. We recommend keeping it as simple and classic as possible.
9. Avoid slouchy handbags
When buying an affordable tote, it helps to stick to structured shapes, rather than anything too slouchy as it will inevitably hold its shape better and appear to be in better condition for much longer. So, think satchels and boxy bags, rather than slouchy shoppers.
10. Don't buy designer knock-offs
The most important rule in fooling other fashionistas is to be authentic, and therefore to avoid knock-offs. While sometimes the high street can do a pretty good job in duping the catwalk, it will never, ever look quite the same and you'll fool nobody. Instead of opting for direct catwalk copies, take inspiration from trends in a much more subtle way.