You don't need a closet full of designer duds to look like a million bucks. We've all seen Marie Claire 's "Splurge vs. Steal" column and other "get the look for less" articles in magazines and on style blogs. All of them prove that it's possible to dress stylishly without breaking the bank. But even with all of these penny-pinching tricks, sometimes our best efforts still fall a little flat.
Here's an example: You bought a shirt on the sale rack that's totally your color and fits you perfectly. Way to go! You would look flawless, but the problem is that your bra is way too big and totally visible underneath, which is making your outfit seem less polished than it should be. Same holds true for visible panty lines. It's glaring faux pas like these that can detract from your look and make even the most expensive outfit look cheap.
Fortunately, fixing these issues is super easy — all you need to do is be aware of what's not working and what you can do to change that. For a little guidance, I got in touch with Jessie Holeva, the beautiful brunette behind the blog Trend Hungry. Holeva is a budget-friendly fashion expert whose work has been featured by the likes of Woman's Day, The Wall Street Journal, and SheKnows. Here are a handful of things that she suggests you can do to make your outfit look less cheap and more chic:
1. You're Wearing The Wrong Undergarments
Appropriate underwear is just as important as the outfit itself. You may think that no one else can see it, but that's not always the case, unfortunately, so make sure that you pay attention to this. "Start with the right foundation," says Holeva. "This is where it all begins, so go and get measured to ensure your bras fit correctly. Every woman needs some seamless underwear, a good tee-shirt bra, and a strapless bra. Shape-wear items are great too and necessary to create a smoothing effect in many figure-hugging outfits."
It's important to invest in a good T-shirt bra that won't show any seams through fabrics. Flesh-colored is best because you can wear it with anything, even whites, and it won't show through. (Perfect Shape Bra, $39.50, Victoria's Secret)
2. Your Clothes Don't Fit Properly
It may seem like common sense, but try to avoid wearing pieces that are too big or too small. "Wear what fits correctly," says Holeva. "When clothes fit your body right, you'll appear slimmer, taller, and much more chic. Invest in a tailor so pieces will complement you and will get more use, too." The best thing to do is to try before you buy so you know that you're getting the right size. Also, staying on top of laundry and dry cleaning will not only keep clothes from looking baggy and unkempt but will also make them last longer.
In the wise words of Tim Gunn, "make it work." (Image: Getty Images)
3. You're Sticking To What The Store Gave You
To avoid looking like a store mannequin, infuse your outfit with some of your own accessories. While some clothes already come with add-ons, Holeva warns us that these can make an outfit look less sophisticated. "Cheap dresses often come with belts, or a blazer may come with a pin. Swap the freebies and add your own to elevate the look." Adding a personal touch can make an outfit more intriguing and feel more up-to-date, even if it is from the clearance rack.
4. Your Clothes Are Emblazoned With Logos
Many brands put a little logo on their clothes, like Abercrombie's moose or American Eagle's eagle, and even though they're small, they are noticeable and can indicate the price of an outfit. Instead, Holeva suggests trying to avoid logos and sticking with understated pieces. True, there are high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Burberry that are known for their bold prints, which is a large part of the appeal, but in general it's better to stick with logo-free pieces. A knock-off designer piece that's clearly not the real deal can look tacky.
"Can't afford the luxury goods you want? Go for an understated style, no logos, and not too trendy," suggests Holeva. "A sleek pair of black pumps can range from $20 to the quadruple digits." The average onlooker won't be able to tell the difference between these two pairs of black patent peep toes, but this is the perfect example of how you can get a designer look for less. (Jimmy Choo Crown Peep-Toe Patent Platform Pump, $695, neimanmarcus.com; Bowlick, $80, aldoshoes.com)
5. Your Nail Polish Is Chipping
Peeling polish can stand out like a sore thumb, even if you've nailed the rest of your look. "If it looks like you take care of your nails, it'll look like you put thought into your outfit too," says Holeva. "Try red, nude, pink, or navy with a shiny top coat to seal the deal."
6. You Are Not Putting In Effort On Your Hair And Makeup
Most of us don't have the luxury of hiring a personal hair and makeup team, but that's no excuse for looking like you just rolled out of bed. "Become a hair and makeup master," says Holeva. "You don't need to be a pro, but simply looking well kept will do. Although, the better you are at your hair and makeup, the more polished you'll look overall."
"I love the book How to Look Expensive. It talks all about what expensive beauty and style looks like so you can fake it on your own," she says. (How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank, $14.50, Amazon)