Every once in awhile, there's an article about looking high-end and in the comments section, people always say things like "how to look expensive = be rich/buy expensive clothes". I'm here to say that, yes, having enough disposable income to buy whatever you want does give you a leg up in this area however it is a) not necessary and b) not always effective.
Like let's be honest (and no offense), I've seen plenty of celebrities wearing expensive items that look incredibly cheap because they're either too trendy or just weren't styled properly. I'm sure you've noticed the same! And you know, looking expensive isn't necessarily always the goal and that's fine!
But, if you do want to build a quality wardrobe that makes you look and feel more sophisticated, you can do so without filling your wardrobe strictly with Chloé, Prada, and Chanel. Here are a few of my tips:
Dress in a tonal palette.
I'm all for color and you can certainly pull off a multi-colored, rainbow look if you do it right. However, an easy way to make your look more sophisticated is to use a tonal color palette. This just means selecting different shades in the same color family (i.e. cream, beige, and camel or lemon, buttercup, and saffron). You can do all solids or throw in prints, so long as they're all in the same family. Some of my favorite examples are here on Aimee Song and here on Shiona Turini.
Play well with texture.
Especially if you're dressing in a tonal palette (but also if you're not), adding layers of texture is key to a beautiful outfit. Let's say you're wearing head-to-toe shades of white. You could do white denim skinnies and gray/white snakeskin leather shoes, then layer in textured pieces like a chunky knit sweater and a taupe suede bag. Some examples here, here, here, and here.
Opt for a structured bag.
Another quick tip is simply to choose structured handbags to pair with your outfits. See how much more luxe this bag looks versus this one? The first was under $90 while the second was Prada.
Pay attention to the details.
This encapsulates a few things I've already mentioned like choosing luxe textures and pairing tonal colors together, but it can also refer to accessories, styling, makeup, fragrance, and basic grooming choices. Putting together a solid look and looking high-end both require a sense of balance and artful intention. Make sure your clothing is steamed, keep your nails taken care of, drape your jacket over the shoulders, wear classic sturdy jewelry pieces, get your clothes tailored if needed, and keep your hair/makeup natural.
Invest in your denim.
Obviously the quality of cheap denim is subpar but sometimes you just want a trendy pair of jeans and don't care if they fall apart after a year. However, I know I've personally attempted to buy cheaper pairs of trendy denim from places like Old Navy and H&M and have been so disappointed in the fit that I couldn't move forward with the purchase. Buying quality denim means so much more than just getting a higher quality material. The amount of work and detail that goes into a pair of premium jeans means that you're likely going to get a more flattering fit for your body and ultimately look more expensive. Some brands I love are Madewell, AG, Paige and J Brand.
Wear the proper undergarments.
This really is a huge key to looking put together. Choosing the right undergarment as well as being fitted for your proper size will make a major difference in the way your clothes look on your body. StitchFix has a solid guide, but definitely make an appointment at a lingerie shop if you can!
Know how to embrace modern trends.
if you wear a trendy print (like gingham, candy stripes, bold tartans, rainbow, tropical, art-inspired, etc.), wear it in a classic silhouette. If you want to wear a daring silhouette, do it in a neutral, classic material and color (like this, for instance).
Choose a shoe with a pointed toe.
This is a quick and easy tip. In most cases, a pointed toe looks more high-end and is much more flattering on the leg than a round toe.
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Cambridge, Olivia Palermo, Olivia Culpo, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Queen Letizia of Spain, Carla Bruni, Jeanne Damas, Alicia Vikander, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sofia Coppola, Catherine Deneuve, Kerry Washington, Carine Roitfeld, Amal Clooney, Gabrielle Union.