Ever see someone in an impossibly chic outfit and think to yourself, “I wish I could afford that?” Because same. In an alternate reality, I live in an NYC apartment with more than 500 square feet of space and a closet to rival Carrie Bradshaw’s. But in my present-day non-fictional life, I’m frugal out of necessity.
Rent, takeout, rooftop drinks, and taxes really do add up, and sometimes, there’s little left for splurging on high-quality clothes. But here’s some good news: Many of the street-style looks we love aren’t as expensive as they seem. The best dressed aren’t spendthrifts, they’re savvy—and we have a few style tips up our sleeves to help you look luxe on a budget too.
1. Get the perfect fit
It may seem obvious, but clothes that are too tight, oversized, or otherwise ill-fitting will never live up to their true potential. Bring your favorite jeans, dresses, and other go-to pieces to the tailor—it’s worth it. A few nips and tucks later, your closet staples will be made to fit you, not just anyone. And to my fellow impulse buyers: Please, put down the $10 Primark sweater and back away slowly.
2. Be a minimalist
We all have our own fashion mantras—but one to live by if you’re going for the elegant aesthetic is “less is more.” That means less competing colors, clashing prints, and over-the-top embellishments and more neutral basics. When in doubt, go monochrome for an effortless yet elevated ‘fit. And if you’re struggling to put an outfit together, stick to adding minimal jewelry, a bag, and a pair of sunglasses to complete a look.
3. Wear understated jewelry
On that same note, be selective with your accessories. If you’re wearing a top with a dramatic neckline, opt for a pair of pearl earrings or leather watch rather than a necklace. One or two delicate pieces will enhance your overall style—New Year’s Eve circa 1998 is what we’re trying to avoid.
4. Carry a structured bag
Designer labels are nice but never necessary when you know how to shop for the perfect purse. A neutral-toned, structured handbag is not only sleek and chic, but it’s also an everyday essential. The shape and style are timeless in a way that automatically elevates an outfit in a seamless way.
5. Invest in a great coat
In the cooler half of the year, your outfit is almost always covered up with your coat of choice. The point here is this: You can even wear loungewear and still look luxe when you top it off with a timeless coat. A camel trench or black blazer are transitional must-haves this time of year.
6. Add a belt
An often overlooked accessory, belts manage to upgrade just about any outfit. Whether it’s jeans and a T-shirt or a little white dress, a classic black or brown belt will pull any look together. Invest in one in a neutral shade that you know you’ll be able to throw on with anything you want to pair it with.
7. Go incognito
Channel your inner celeb and score extra glamour points in oversized sunglasses. Even the simplest ensemble becomes instantly vogue with a pair of bold, black shades. No photos, please. Even if you’re just heading out to run errands, it’ll give you a cool-girl vibe every single time.