How to look more “expensive”?

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    I was out shopping in the city and I just felt so frumpy, frazzled and scruffy whereas everyone else just seemed so polished and well styled. I’m not sure if “expensive” is the right word, but the clothes look good quality, classic and well-styled. I already like classic styles and try to emulate that kind of look but I just fail at it. I think I am doing ok until I am in a nice restaurant or out in the city and I see how put-together these other women look.


    Today though I was wearing skinny jeans, I chucked on Converse that are looking a little scruffy and worn and just put on my navy blue parka jacket which is ill-fitting and I just felt so frumpy and horrible. It doesn’t help that I have some weight to lose which I am working at but I want to feel nice in myself now and not in some distant 3 months+ when I am at my goal weight.


    Tomorrow I am going shopping again with a new source of motivation and I want to treat myself to some things to elevate my style. I am a graduate student so I still need to be fairly comfortable and casual but the scruffy coat and Converse have to go. I am also having my haircut next week to freshen it up with some layers.


    I have tried to find some photos that show the kind of classic look I mean:

    [Outfit 1](

    [Outfit 2](*)

    [Outfit 3](

    [Outfit 4](

    I would really, really appreciate advice/suggestions on what to buy to get this look. Thank you.




    I experienced that when I moved to a city where most of the women dress well and look good.

    Here is what I suggest:

    Shoes and your coat are good things to spend money on. You don’t need to wear heels, but boots or non-sneakers tend to look more polished.

    It looks very polished to have well fitting clothes. Not particularly tight or loose, but well fitting.

    Keep away from clothes you could wear in a gym. I know everyone is okay with atheleisure, but generally it looks dressed down.

    Higher quality fabrics look better, lay better, hold up better after washing. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy more expensive brands, but pay attention to the fabric content. Tissue tees are popular because the fabric is very cheap and thin and don’t look good after a few washes. Also stay away from 100% polyester and acrylic.

    Buy a sweater shaver and keep all your clothes de-pilled.

    Make sure your bra is well fitting.



    I know you already got a ton of advice so this might be redundant, but I struggle with looking too expensive sometimes (very very casual city and looking too polished gets weird comments) and here’s what I think:
    Get yourself a good coat and good boots before winter.

    1. Coat: invest in a classy non sporty/techy coat. This will be wool or waxed cotton. Barbour jackets are nice but not very warm, so look for wool unless you live somewhere warm. Look for 100% wool that feels smooth rather than fuzzy. This will be less likely to get linty and pilly. Go for a solid color that matches everything you have, camel or cognac are nice. You should be able to hit places like Nordstrom Rack and find a nice selection this time of year. Thrift stores are also good. Look for mid tier and heritage brands like Pendleton, Hunter, maybe Lands End or Michael kors if the wool feels decent. Make sure it’s fitted and makes you feel great. A peacoat or car coat are classics. Avoid faux leather trim.

    2. Boots: a nice pair of good quality leather boots will last forever. There are subtle indicators of quality here. Leather lined is better than synthetic, they’ll mold to your foot. Top grain leather that isn’t stamped or coated with be thick and smooth and wear and scratches will only make it look better, like Kate’s boots. Definitely look for at least real leather, not too shiny, with minimal embellishment and a simple riding boot shape.

    In general, if you can’t afford super high quality stuff, get the cleanest, simplest styles you can. Hardware and embellishment are where things start to look cheap.
    I’ll also echo what others said about keeping things clean and pressed. I assume fancy hair helps but I suck at that so I’m no help there.



    As a (admittedly self described) stylish man and admirer of women and women’s fashion, here are some suggestions.

    After I left college and began making more money and could buy more expensive clothes, I believe my style of dress actually took a dive. My newfound wealth meant that I was buying many more clothes and in different styles. I wasn’t familiar with how to wear them and not all of them were flattering to my figure / build. It is also very tempting when buying upmarket clothes to see value in gimmicks like extra stitching or big, flashy features. In reality, these things are distractions from style.

    I then decided to pare back my wardrobe to the essentials that served me well when I was younger. I went back down to what I knew worked. Good-fitting jeans that I bought selvedge and faded myself through wear, a couple well-fitting slacks, crisp white shirts and blazers. For a coat, I will wear a trim-fitting pea coat. Shoes are always classic looking Italian leather oxfords. Actually, decades later this is still essentially my style.

    I then began to build out, and came to understand that (at most) one interesting accent piece was all I needed if I wanted to pop a bit. Bright red shoes, a low brimmed hat, a bow tie, checkered pants, etc. Never both at the same time.

    Choice of material is critical. The fabric should drape well. Avoid synthetics.

    Color is critical. If you are a bit challenged, then stick to one palate. My personal challenge is that I travel frequently for work, so I make sure all my clothes go with each other. There’s nothing worse than packing carry-on only for a two week trip and discovering that my olive-brown pants don’t go with any of the jackets I’ve brought. Well, ya there’s a lot that’s worse, but it’s annoying.

    In the outifts you posted, the models were relying on lots of gimmicks and detail. Big coats, characterful scarves, heavy boots. I’ve never liked that look. Every year in the fall for the past decade or so, it seems like women all suddenly decide to ride their horses to work.

    You mentioned you have a couple of pounds to lose. I hear you sister, and I’ve been there. The fact is that I’ve seen trim people with nice figures look good with stuff they pull out of the bottom of the laundry basket, and chubby people look frumpy in head to toe chanel. Personally, I know that my wardrobe works, so when I see myself looking meh, I put down the fork and hit the gym. That does a better job solving the problem than a shopping trip.

    Fit! This is more of a challenge for women than for men because your wonderful figures have so much more variation. If you have a high waist (which means congrats, you have lovely long legs), then your build is a bit unusual and many brands won’t suit you. Shirts will bunch in a strange way or make you look boxy. Similarly, if you have wider hips, long, baggy sweaters can make you look boxy. Women with long femurs and short forelegs, normally quite an aesthetically pleasing feature, can look downright penguinish in dresses that hit at the knee.

    We are all unique and have idiosyncracies to how we are put together. Paying attention to what works with our physiques will go a long way to achieving better fit.

    So, to sum up:

    1. Be conservative. Find a style that works and stick with it.
    2. Branch out deliberately to slowly expand your style from that tried-and-true center.
    3. Pick a color palate that works for you.
    4. Focus on good materials.
    5. Avoid gimicks and feature-heavy garments. The only excuse to look like you jumped off a horse is if you really jumped off a horse!
    6. Ensure a good fit. This goes with point 1. Find something that works for you and stick with it.

    Good luck!



    – Always make sure your clothing is fit perfectly to your body (ie get it tailored)

    – Get clothing to suit your body. For example: if you’re confident with your legs, emphasis your legs; if you don’t like your bottom, use darker colours and looser clothes (take this with a pinch of salt, dress as you please – this a guideline only!)

    – Quality over quantity- I always believe you should buy a higher quality, perhaps more expensive piece that will last longer; maybe even consider a capsule wardrobe

    – Look after your clothes – always iron, steam etc. If it needs to be hand washed, hand wash! If it needs dry cleaning, dry clean it! and defuzz your cashmere

    – Invest in accessories- structured bags, a nice watch, diamond earrings, tennis bracelet

    – Drape your coat/jacket over the shoulders (this never fails to look good)

    – Maintain your general appearance: glowing, simple, fresh faced beauty is what I like to go for; clean, naturally manicured fingers; freshly blow dried hair; white teeth; maintain a nice figure (this may be controversial, but if you look like you got to the gym often, you do look more put together – this is not to say you can’t look fantastic over any size). If you always look polished, it looks like you can spend a lot of money on yourself (facials, estheticians, nail technicians, personal trainers etc)

    – Also: carry yourself well, ie good posture, manners, smiling!



    I stick to the three color rule when I’m getting dressed—include one tiny detail (such as earrings even when my hair is down or perfectly coordinated socks), and some make up/hair details. It helps me appear as if I intentionally got dressed and paid attention to what I was accessorizing with. I think it really helps to get a beauty routine as well, mine is fill brows, apply neutral/pearlescent eyeshadow lightly, and highlight my cheeks and brow bones. This allows me to skip foundation, yet look like I had an extra 15min to get ready that I actually didn’t have!



    I tried to read all of the responses so I could avoid being redundant, and you’ve gotten a ton of great advice already! So, just a few highlights:

    1) Take good care of cheap clothes. I’m petite, so a lot of my staples are not high-end designer brands, because they don’t care about my body type. I keep things looking fresh by hang-drying anything that doesn’t absolutely need to tumble.

    2) Spend more money on your staple, structured items, and less on the mix/match items. No one who isn’t insane can really spot the difference between a $250 or $25 soft, black jersey t-shirt. However, if your pants/jeans/blazers/structured dresses are poorly constructed or cheap material, it’s way easier to spot.

    3) Once my polish chips, I take it all off. Better bare, clean, even-length nails than a sad, cracked mess of polish. I don’t get gel so this is still a thing for me.

    4) Take care of your skin and teeth. My regimen is simple and relatively inexpensive, and I get compliments on my skin all the time. I never go to bed at night without washing my face and brushing my teeth, and I try to get 8 hours/night. Looking well-rested and clean goes a lonnnng way! I also don’t sun my face but that’s another thread entirely.

    5) Every woman’s makeup comfort level is different, but whenever I want to leave the house looking put-together, I put on mascara, brow filler, and lipstick, at minimum. Those simple touches can elevate any outfit by giving your face a finished look.

    6) Simple, high-quality stud earrings. Get you some! Don’t blow your budget on 2-carat diamonds if you’re not there yet, but definitely don’t try to fake it with some giant rhinestones. Check Etsy for custom, modern, affordable and classic pieces.

    7) Keep shoes and handbags clean. Converse are awesome, if they’re tidy and fresh-looking.

    8) I have to parrot because it’s so important: tailoring!!! Make it a part of your wardrobing process.

    I know you have a certain look in mind, and I think it’s smart for all women to have an understated, classic version of their personal style, no matter what it is. Just don’t limit yourself to an image to fit in- throw some of your personality into it! Fashion should be fun, not too calculated or stressful ; )



    A lot of good advice about fit and the tendency for these looks to to rely on great skin/hair/nails.

    My advice would be to spend more on leather shoes and a nice bag. These items get more wear than clothes. Real leather holds up better and develops a patina that polyurethane cannot.



    Lots of good advice here. Grooming is key. And in addition to fit, another part to look for when shopping, especially if frumpy is an issue, is how the item of clothing settles. I like to do a wiggle/flail my body quickly around test.

    Normally when we try on clothes, we arrange the clothes so that they look good. We smooth it out, adjust the collar, make sure the scarf is even, the tails are tucked, etc. But unless you are committed to constantly checking and re-adjusting, this is literally the best it’s going to get and as you go through the day , things will shift and settle to their true natural state.

    So its a good idea to evaluate the clothing for this! So twist your torso, lift each leg, wave your arms, do a dance. After all that, if the piece of clothing still looks good, you know it’s going to look good all day. 🙂



    All of these are gold, but remember that a well put together look involved steaming or ironing. Not being wrinkled always help! Also, don’t throw out the converse, they’re always a classic.



    I’m late to the party but my biggest advice is to stick to natural fabrics (wool, linen, cotton, silk, denim, cashmere, leather). I didnt figure this out until this year, and it changed my life.

    I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores, with the main exceptions being underclothes and shoes. Do not skimp on shoes. (I just bought M. Gemi driving moccasins this summer and they are WONDERFUL, I live in them. Worth every penny)

    My latest thrift store find is a long camel wool/cashmere coat, which I found for $15. I have beautiful dresses, blazers, jeans, slacks, coats, scarves, purses, and most everything I own I bought for less than $10.
    I’ve always been a thrift shopper but things really starting clicking for me when I switched to natural fabrics and re-donated all of the ill-fitting polyester, acrylic, nylon junk I was bringing home, and EDITING my wardrobe to only the best of the best; I.e., get rid of all the crap in your closet you actually hate wearing and that you never wear. It makes you feel like shit about yourself, which is totally unnecessary.

    When I first edited my closet, I only had like 20 items left and it scared the hell out of me, but it was really something to go in to get dressed every morning and feel good in every thing I tried on. Once you get down to only the stuff that you love, be VERY choosy about what you bring in.

    I did the same with jewelry. I just finished grad school, and when I did, I bought myself 2 gorgeous pairs of earrings. I was fortunate to receive a very nice watch as a graduation gift, and I wear it every day. I edited down the jewelry and accessories that I own to only the best of the best. Keep it simple.

    Also, figure out your colors, and know yourself. Every clothing list in the world will tell you that need a white t-shirt in your capsule. I hate wearing white, it makes me look sick. I feel good in black t-shirts, so that’s what I wear. Edited to add: I also realized that I hate most anything with a pattern on it. It just looks busy and is outdated pretty quickly. There are a couple exceptions in my wardrobe, but not many.

    There are also great Youtube videos on looking well put together. I started following Audrey Coyne after seeing a video she did on outfit adjustments. It was really helpful, and I’ve since learned a lot from her videos.



    Judging from what you posted it seems like investing in nice coats is what you want and then pair them with your basics. I’d say a nice trench, a nice leather jacket, a nice wool coat, and a more fashion-y blazer.



    Puffy down jackets always make me feel puffy and down lol. I like wool coats as another option for very cold weather! It seems like a small thing, but I got a nice wool coat because I wanted outerwear that was professional looking to wear to interviews or nice functions. I was stunned at how much more put together I felt throwing it over any winter outfit, even just jeans and a turtleneck.

    Two of the girls you posted are in barbour coats I think, which compared to other jackets that just emulate the look are so so much warmer and weather-proof and great for fall. Theyre expensive upfront but I know people who have had theirs for literally a decade. I’m saving up for one because I know it’s a worthy investment.
    (I’m wondering if there’s a similar quality brand that’s a bit cheaper for lack of name recognition? Need to research waxed jackets…)

    Of course, sometimes a puffer will be the best option when things get very cold, but little details as well like nice leather gloves or even the right shade of lipstick help me feel pulled together too.



    Some people have said fit isn’t that important but I think the fit is *the most important* part. You can wear all neutrals and comb your hair and wear nice shoes, but if your clothes are baggy, awkward and unflattering then you will look frumpy.

    Look up the styles that flatter your body shape for a starting point. Those can be a bit restrictive, but still helpful to begin with.

    Another thing – make sure your clothes are ironed/free of wrinkles.



    Those are professional models. Heavily photoshopped. You could have a photoshoot with your best outfit and look just as confident as those models, and I bet you will look flawless too. Princess is another story. She has people around her at all times, that fixes for how she looks, how she acts etc. So she doesn’t count either.

    Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand what you mean. Some gals get hit by a tornado and still look like they just left the house. I personally accepted the fact that spending so much time and having to think of how one looks all the time is exhausting.

    Here’s what I observed over the years. First, weight hardly matters. You gotta dress for your body type. Just the right amount of accessories are essential.

    You can still wear converse, but you need to keep them clean, as if you just bought it. Get new laces once in a while for example.

    Learn how to care for different types of fabric. Inspect your bags, accesories, shoes for stains, wear and tear.

    Go to thrift stores often, look into websites that sells or rents second hand stuff. You will find amazing things.

    Most importantly make sure your body language shows that you are confident and content.

    Aaannnd visit the rest room very often for quality control.

    Good luck. 🙂

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