Look expensive, on the cheap: 7 timeless ways to look like a million bucks without spending it

Look expensive on the cheap
Look expensive on the cheap

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As any budget-shopper with high-end tastes would know, it can feel impossible to look like a million without spending it. We are flooded with runway images of designer looks we love, yet can rarely match that adulation with the IRL amounts in our bank accounts. Since waiting for the good ole’ trickle down can be painful (and sometimes produce less than thrilling results), we thought we’d share a few ways to always look expensive, while shopping on a budget. Avoiding flash-in-the-pan trends, we’ve selected seven timeless ways to look expensive, without anyone knowing how cheap it ways to do it.

Expensive Cheap Zara


Black has long since been a staple during the winter months, but navy is a great alternative to take your outfit up an extra notch. Not only does the dark shade have great visual depth, but historically, it’s been associated with bourgeoisie activities such as yachting, horse-riding and formal dining. Fancy. The wide lapels and big brass buttons on this Zara coat make it look like classic Brooks Brothers, though it costs much less. ($199, zara.com)

Expensive Cheap Fur


Nothing says old world luxury like fur (ahem, have you seen Anna Karenina?), and while the real deal might be above your price range; the addition of a faux or vintage fur collar like the one pictured above ($28, etsy.com) elevates your look without breaking the bank.

Fur accents have been popping up lately in many variations. Other Karenina-approved options include vintage fur headbands and vintage fur-covered elastics by Toronto-based line, Headmistress.

Expensive Cheap Romwe


Velvet is the easiest and most cost effective way to look expensive without spending much. However, it can be tricky. While many affordable brands have made velvet look tacky by buying sub-quality material and sewing at mismatched edges, vintage is usually a safe bet. This diamante-collared black velvet blouse from Romwe is a good choice as well. ($52, romwe.com)

Espensive Cheap V Vintage 69
Vintage fur hats at Toronto’s new V by Vintage 69


Since many runway styles are re-inventions of the past, vintage is quite often the easiest way to cop a runway aesthetic at a fraction of the price. While amazing pieces can be found at thrift outlets such as Value Village or Salvation Army for as low as a loonie a piece, curated vintage boutiques offer a smaller selection for mostly reasonable rates. Honestly, the high-end appeal of vintage could spur its own post (and it will, just you wait).

Expensive Cheap Asos

Collar Jewels

While collar tips may have reached their fever pitch earlier this year, collar jewels are making a comeback. This pair from Asos ($21, asos.com) are beautiful, and quite an unexpected way to wear jewels. For an even easier way to try this trend, try pinning your favourite studs and vintage clip on earrings onto your collar. Instant statement, zero cost.

Expensive Cheap Costa Blanca

Impactful knits

This tip comes from first hand experience, as I get stopped in this sweater ($25, available at Costa Blanca) everywhere I go. It references Proenza Schouler without downright copycatting, and costs a fraction (of a fraction) of the designer price. With knitwear already on discount, and a second round of sales coming up on Boxing Day, it will be even easier to capitalize on the knitwear trend this month.

Expensive Cheap Topshop

Exposed zippers

Thick silver zippers stand out, and were huge in the ‘90s, but are rarely used by affordable brands today. This pair ($38, topshop.com) hits the mark right on the head in one of the season’s strongest colours, oxblood. Replacing regular or hidden zippers on pieces you already own is another fun way to try the trend at a relatively low cost.

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