Expensive Taste On A Budget: Tips From A Fashion Editor

As a fashion editor, I spend my days curating and writing about the best style trends and buzziest pieces across the internet for POPSUGAR’s readers. It’s the best! Just don’t look at my bank statements. Just kidding… kind of.

image via    Sunkissed Steph

image via Sunkissed Steph

Jokes aside, I’ll let you in on a secret I’ve learned over the years: you don’t need to spend a lot of money to look like you spend a lot of money. Because let’s be real: I live in the Bay Area where cost of living is insane and my boyfriend and I would eventually like to own a home — it’s just not realistic to be spending my paycheck on all designer everything. But your girl’s gotta keep up with appearances! Luckily, I have a few tricks up my (non-designer) sleeve that often have Very Stylish People at Important Business Meetings think that what I’m wearing is all designer. So if you too have Tom Ford taste on a Topshop budget, keep reading! This one’s for you.

image via    Sunkissed Steph

image via Sunkissed Steph

A Little Altering Makes a Big Difference

Don’t invest in designer clothes — invest in a good tailor. This is how you get a Forever 21 dress to look like it’s Reformation. From the way the fabric hangs and drapes on your body to where the hem hits you, when a piece is custom-fit to your specific proportions, it looks more expensive than it is. Sure, you may end up paying $35 to alter a $25 dress, but it will turn fast fashion into something with longevity, and it’s still more affordable than a $200 dress.

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Pay Attention to Fabrics
More often than not, when it comes to a designer item, it’s not so much the fabric you’re paying for (although there are exceptions), it’s the design and craftsmanship. Believe it or not, this means that there are plenty of designer items constructed from the most cost-effective fabrics. And this also means there are plenty of non-designer items constructed from those same fabrics. This is especially the case for natural fabrics, like cotton, linen, and silk, which are easy to find at high street stores like H&M. You’d be surprised at how easily a Topshop linen blazer could pass as a Frame one. Sometimes being a fashion snob actually means being a fabric snob.

image via    Sunkissed Steph

image via Sunkissed Steph

Details Matter
When it comes to style, it never hurts to be ruthlessly detail-oriented. The best dressers pay close attention to everything, from the exact placement of their pearl barrette down to the color of their shoe laces. Don’t overlook things like metal hardware, accent colors, or the way you’re tucking your shirt or rolling your sleeves. I try to tie one element of my outfit back to another — like wearing white shoes with a white bag or gold earrings with gold-rimmed sunglasses.

image via    Sunkissed Steph

image via Sunkissed Steph

Incorporate One Novel Element Into Your Look
High-end pieces usually have one distinguishing detail that makes them unique. Think: the sculptural heel on Jacquemus sandals or mismatched buttons on a Rejina Pyo dress. Train your eye to look for special novelty details when you’re shopping or putting together an outfit. I love things like tortoiseshell accents (on buttons, bag handles, shoe heels), unexpected button or zipper placement, exaggerated sleeves, or asymmetrical anything — these can really take your look to the next level.

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About The Writer:

Stephanie Nguyen is a fashion editor for POPSUGAR and a Bay Area native. With her editorial eye and luxury market expertise, she covers the latest trends and must have products both for her work at POPSUGAR, as well as on her own personal style blog, Sunkissed Steph, which focuses on her preference for creating minimal, urban looks. She has been featured in WWD, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Spain, ABC, and Lucky Magazine. As a quintessential California girl, sunshine, avocado toast, vintage Levi’s, and matcha lattes are just a few things she can’t live without.