05 February 2015

Look Expensive for Less

We all want to look like a million dollars. The trouble is that most of us don’t have the bank balance to match our ideal image – and that image can be really important in the world of work, where being well-groomed and professionally presentable can be important to your prospects. Don’t despair. If you shop smart when buying your work wardrobe you can still look expensively dressed.

Let’s run through some of the hallmarks of an expensive wardrobe. The first is that outfits fit. This is where well-cut clothes have the edge. If you can’t afford designer clothes, opt for simpler cuts, like shift dresses, that are absolutely the right size all over. Classic clothes are often also conservative. Avoid plunging necklines or hemlines that are too high. Sleeves of some kind are often classier than bare arms, especially in the workplace.

Classic elegance also often relies on simplicity. Think of Coco Chanel’s ‘little black dress’. Frills and fussy details are best avoided, not least because they are most likely to go out of fashion faster. If you want to dress up an outfit, use accessories.

Expensive clothes always look as if they’ve just come out of the box. This is partly down to good quality materials (as well as clothes that are well cut and hang properly). You want to look well groomed, which means that you don’t want wrinkled clothes that always look in need of ironing. When considering a purchase, check the material for how much it creases. A good blend of fibres will give you the best of all worlds. It won’t look cheap, or like pure polyester, but it won’t crease like linen or silk.

Colour and pattern are also important things to consider. There are classic patterns and designs, but even these go in and out of style. On the other hand, you can’t really go wrong with plain fabrics – unless you pick the wrong colour. Neutral colours like grey, camel and blue are always safe and stylish. If you want to make more of a statement, keep it muted and well away from the extremes of the colour wheel, like bright reds, purple and oranges.

Lastly, nothing completes an outfit like a good pair of shoes. By the same token, nothing looks worse than a cheap pair. It’s worth not cutting back too much on shoes, for image purposes as well as comfort. Beware of shoes that are too shiny or have heels that are more suited to the catwalk than the workplace. A few other good accessories will always upgrade an outfit. A smart necklace, a good watch or a stylish scarf will upgrade your basic outfit and show that you have panache as well as subtle taste.

Looking expensive is about knowing what fits and suits you. It’s about being well-groomed and understated, without ever being boring. It’s about choosing appropriate styles, patterns and outfit accents for the occasion.

Get it right and well-chosen budget clothes can look a whole lot more expensive than they actually are.

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  1. Some of us just can't do this. I'm tall and very long-legged. I absolutely cannot find clothes that fit that are used. Probably because all of the other tall ladies do what I do - wear our clothes until they fall apart.

    1. I am tall too so I tend to wear a skirt that is maybe a size larger therefore sitting more on the hips. Then I wear a longer line top....my latest is a band style 'stretchy" straight but fitting black skirt from Kmart for $15...lovely with a long line button shirt .



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