How to Dress Like a Queen on a Pauper’s Budget

By Caitlin


Whether you’re a newbie going on her first couple dates or a seasoned veteran looking for an affordable wardrobe refresher, looking expensive on a budget is an art. Here are a few ways to look like a queen affordably.

The clearance rack isn’t always a good deal

Just because something is on sale doesn’t make it worth it. Maybe that jacket says it was $400 originally, but now it’s $100. If it wasn’t on sale, would you still pay $100 for a simple jacket? Maybe not.

Don’t pay too much attention to how much something used to be worth, just focus on whether it’s worth the price right now. That being said, you should still check the clearance rack for any steals.

Get second-hand luxury items

The smartest way to get yourself the basic luxury must haves – nice shoes, nice purse – is to shop second-hand. These items, as covetable as they are, are still depreciating assets. As in, once someone has used them, even once, they rapidly depreciate in value…and price.

That’s great news for you since you can scoop up preciously owned designers shoes, purses, coats and a lot more at super bargain prices. My favorite site for this? The Real Real – they’ve got a great selection and their stuff is in superb condition. I’ve gotten like-new Jimmy Choos here for less than $150.

Go thrifting!

Thrifting can be super fun when done with a friend. Go out with your girlfriends (preferably ones that are a different size from you so you don’t fight over the same items).

Plus, tons of thrift stores have sales. For example, Goodwill often will give discounts to certain colored tags for that day or week. Many thrift stores have tons of high end brands for very low prices.

You don’t have to look for Burberry and Versace. Look for high quality brands that are usually pricier retail, like Guess, Vince Camuto, and the like. Just make sure that there aren’t any stains or holes, or fabric that’s uncomfortable. And make sure everything fits! This brings me to my next point…

Make sure your clothing fits your body perfectly

No matter how expensive and quality a piece is, if it’s clearly not your size, it won’t be looking good on you. If in doubt, ask a close friend who won’t sugarcoat it.

Clothing that’s too tight or too loose never looks good. A cheap pencil skirt from Wet Seal could end up looking better than that Valentino one you thrifted if the fit and condition is better.

If buying secondhand, only get like new items

Thrifting is awesome, but again, many of these clothes are flawed. If it’s something like a loose thread or a missing button, grab it! Those can easily be fixed at the local tailor for just a few dollars.

Stains and deteriorating material (like silk with lots of snags, badly pilling sweaters, and the like) should be left on the rack because they either can’t be saved or won’t last very long.

Pair simple pieces with one or more expensive item(s)

You can pair any basic LBD with one expensive (or expensive looking) jacket, and it’ll dress up the whole look. It’s okay to splurge on a few essentials, like a beautiful purse and a pair of fancy heels.

These are items you can use almost anytime and anywhere, and accessorizing with them gives your entire outfit a more expensive vibe, even if you paired your Chanel bag with a pair of jeans from the Forever 21 clearance rack.

Don’t spend too much money on jewelry

If there are a pair of diamond studs you’ve been eyeing, divert your attention to some cubic zirconia ones! Nobody will be able to tell the difference but you.

This goes for tons of expensive jewelry. As long as it’s a decent weight and doesn’t just look outright cheap and tacky, nobody will be able to notice. To avoid over accessorizing, take inspiration from your favorite celebrities and emulate their style.

Check out budget websites and stores

Stores like Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls all carry some fabulous designer brands for a fraction of the price! Just be prepared to dig through piles of “rejects” and try everything on before you buy.

Online, there are tons of affordable fashion websites that offer dupes of designer clothing. Lulus offers dupes of high end shoes, like over-the-knee boots that emulate Balmain ones, or even clear heels similar to the ones that Kim Kardashian always wears.

You can also check out sites like Boohoo for expensive looking pieces for a fraction of what you would pay in stores.

Invest in a steamer

Wrinkles are never cute, but many synthetic materials shouldn’t be ironed. A steamer might be pricey, but it’s fast and straightens out pieces in no time. It also gets rid of any odor the clothing might have, so it’s a great idea to steam clothes before you go out with them to dispel and odors you might have from pets, smoking, or just in general.

A quick tip for when you’re on the go or need to look sharp while traveling: turn the shower on piping hot and leave your clothes to hang in the bathroom. The steam from the shower will loosen the wrinkles on fabric.

What are some other ways you can look expensive without breaking the bank? Where else do you shop? Let us know in the comments below!

This post is brought to you by one of our contributing SB writers, Candice, aka The Bay Area Sugar Baby. You can check out her sugar baby story here!

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