34 Cheap Things Fashion Stylists Rely On To Make Outfits Look Good

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Fashion stylists know the industry hacks that make any outfit pop. That's why I turned to a few experts to find out what they rely on to make outfits look good on a budget. I spoke with stylists across the spectrum, including Christie Ressel, a personal stylist in Toronto, and private stylist Nicole Russo of Let’s Get You in New York City. I also heard from Melanie Lippman, a stylist based in the Hamptons, and Lindsay Zgonina, a costume designer and stylist whose credits include outfitting actors on Nashville and The Walking Dead.

These stylists weighed in on everything from ways to look put together fast to what makes the biggest impact on your overall style — plus, what they’d buy if they only had $50 to spend. You'll find their recommendations below, but expect to find jackets and accessories for their ability to finish an outfit, along with statement jewelry, tops, even, as Russo recommends, a "swipe of dramatic makeup."

One repeating theme that all the stylists echoed was to choose pieces that you absolutely love instead of, as what Russo describes as, settling for "good enough." Russo advises, “When I teach my clients to invest in what they love, they feel more satisfied and stylish, even if they have less.”

What is most telling is that every single stylist interviewed seemed to agree that the way you feel matters more than whether something is influencer-approved. As Zgonina points out, “It’s less about specific pieces and more about how a person is wearing them. If someone is comfortable and confident in their look, they can pull off anything.”

Ahead you'll find 34 stylist-approved pieces to elevate your look without breaking the bank. From chunky gold jewelry to classic wardrobe staples, these are the pieces to up-level your look — and to keep it wallet-friendly, all of the items below are under $50.


The Chunky Gold Hoops You’ll Rely On

When asked about a go-to accessory that she loves, Russo didn’t hesitate: “Thick gold 3-inch hoops. They tell people a lot about what's heading their way and make any look dynamic.” Ressel agreed, noting, " The gold adds this rich, luxe look, but the oversized pieces create a bit of edge and a bold statement. Makes any look less boring." These chunky gold hoops rock a high-impact silhouette, with a hollow core for a nearly weightless feel. They have a hypoallergenic stainless steel post that’s nickel-free, lead-free. “Price was unbelievable and the earrings are lightweight and well made. I am beyond impressed,” one shopper commented. Wear yours to automatically elevate jeans and a tee, or lend arty edge to your office blazer. If you love the hefty style but want a smaller earring, check out these bestselling thick hoop earrings in three different sizes and platings.

  • Available colors: 3
  • Available sizes: 20 – 60 millimeters


An Endlessly Versatile Leather Jacket

Russo’s top pick for a wardrobe staple? “A leather jacket (vegan or real).” She considers them one of the best investments because they come in so many different versions and can be styled so many ways. “Over a dress, with jeans, with cutoff shorts, in fall, in spring, under outerwear as a blazer in the dead of winter, dressed up for a wedding, dressed down for country living,” Russo lists. This vegan leather jacket is offered in several sleek quilted styles and comes in every imaginable neutral color along with rich shades of red for a bolder look. If you're looking more for a motorcycle jacket, consider this incredibly nice moto jacket as well.

  • Available options: 28
  • Available sizes: X-Small – XX-Large


A Plus-Sized Motorcycle Jacket Available In Different Cuts

A motorcycle jacket lends downtown edge to everything from your weekend leggings and tees to a sequined party dress. This one is made from 100% vegan leather and comes fully lined, with subtle ball stud accents. “I love this jacket! Beautiful detail, and very durable,” one fan raved. “The jacket is not only gorgeous, but it's affordable.” It’s even offered as a blazer-style jacket with a waterfall collar that you could wear to the office or a cocktail party.

  • Available options: 8
  • Available sizes: X-Large Plus – 3X


The One Accessory You'll Wear Nearly Every Single Day

"In my personal wardrobe, I'm pretty low-maintenance and keep my accessories pretty simple, but sunglasses are always a must," Zgonina reveals of her go-to accessory. This bestselling pair is beloved by thousands of Amazon shoppers for being "great quality," with scores of reviewers comparing them to RayBans and ordering a second pair because they were so well-made. They're slightly oversized with a Wayfarer-esque shape and luxe gold arms, but you can get the frames in tons of different colors, from classics like tortoise (featured) or pitch-black to modern translucent frames and fun colors. "Still look amazing, still so strong. I’ve sat on them 8574927 times and they are still alive," one fan raved. "I’ll never buy expensive sunnies again."

  • Available colors: 12


An Invisible Must-Have: The Best Silicone Nipple Covers For The Money

If you have pieces in your closet that you haven't worn because you lack the right bra to go with it, it's time to embrace nipple covers. Russo recommends Nippies Skin adhesive nipple covers, dubbing them a wardrobe staple in today's era, adding: “Let's stay braless.” Nippies Skin adhesive nipple covers have extremely high-quality attention to detail: They're made with hypoallergenic medical-grade silicone that features an ergonomically curved fit with seamless edges and a matte finish to completely disappear under clothes — and no bounce-back during flash photography. They’re washable, reusable, and come in the nicest travel case. Get them in light and medium shades, too.


An Effortless Statement Blouse In A Bold Hue

"Everyone is so comfortable with black, but color shows your personality and attracts people to you," Lippman advises, calling out color for its ability to make any outfit pop. Ressel also loves color, adding that pieces "don't have to be neutral to be versatile! Most people forget that." This colorful drapey blouse is a breezy option that's seriously so comfortable for a "fashion top," with a generous cut and billowy sleeves, plus an open V-neck that lets a dainty necklace shine. It also comes in really great leopard prints and subtle florals. Tuck it into skinny jeans and pair with a statement shoe and you're ready to go.

  • Available colors: 29
  • Available sizes: Small – X-Large


A Set Of Layered Necklaces For Instant Style

To instantly elevate a look, Russo recommends layered necklaces for how they draw attention to the face. “Everything else could be as basic as can be, but if our face stands out, so do we,” she points out. This set of delicate layered necklaces can be worn separately to maximize your style mileage, and comes in numerous combinations so you’re sure to find something that speaks to you. This pair stood out for its versatility, as the tiny pearls are formal and feminine while the horizontal bar feels modern and clean; a hammered coin pendant is the finishing touch with timeless appeal. “Exceptional quality,” one shopper gushed. “Super nice.”

  • Available options: 32


A Notice-Me Lip Color

Ressel's top pick to instantly elevate a look: "Bold red lipstick (I love warm reds)." Maybelline Color Sensational is a fan favorite with over 12,000 reviews. It goes on ultra-pigmented and totally matte but feels moisturizing and lasts for hours. You can stock up on nudes or pinks, then pick a high-impact shade to try out for the season. Choose from rich reds, wine and berry colors – even black and navy blue. “I freaking love this lipstick,” one fan raved. “The matte doesn't dry your lips out, the pigmentation payoff is impressive for a drugstore brand, and it's creamy for a long time before mattifying. I'm obsessed.”

  • Available colors: 30


Some Good Faux Leather Leggings

One of Ressel's favorite versatile wardrobe staple includes "leather/pleather pants" because they add "great edge to any casual or dressy look." These faux leather leggings can be paired with white sneakers and a graphic sweatshirt for low-key fabulous energy, or worn with a long blazer and statement heels when you need to dress up. Made with a high yoga waistband and lined in a thin layer of fleece, they're going to feel sturdy yet comfortable (though shoppers noted they weren't totally breathable). One reviewer, after having tried several other brands, gushed that "these are the least expensive and the best fit with the best look," adding they were "shiny without being ridiculously shiny." In addition to this black pair that will go with everything in your closet, they're also available in rich versatile shades like caramel and an oxblood red.

  • Available colors: 4
  • Available sizes: X-Small — 4X-Large


The Statement Headband That Looks Designer

For another face-framing option, statement hair accessories can have a dramatic impact on your overall look without the need for jewelry. “Think Lele Sadoughi headbands,” Russo suggests. This budget-friendly take on the designer headband has a similar turban knot in luxe velvet with faux-pearl studs. “The knot isn’t too big that it makes you look silly, the pearl studs are very secure,” one reviewer assured. This set comes with three soft shades that are so easy to work into your wardrobe, and they can even be stretched and adjusted for a better fit. “They look and feel super expensive,” one shopper praised, adding, “They’re right on trend and work with just about any outfit. Very comfortable. Love these!”

And if you're interested in a lower-profile option, a silk turban headband will feel incredibly soft all day long.

  • Available options: 2


A Really Fabulous Coat

When asked about which pieces make the biggest impact on overall presentation, Russo had this to say: “The last layer. It's the finishing touch.” And this leopard print coat is a classic way to make a statement in a style you can wear with everything from jeans and a tee to your little black dress. Since it’s all neutral tones, the pattern is easier to wear than most (especially for the color-phobic). “Very cute and pretty much what I expected,” one reviewer reported. “Good price for a fun trendy piece!” Wear the jacket open-front or clasp it at the neck with a single hook and eye. Some shoppers had better results sizing up, so check the recommended measurements before hitting “add to cart.”

  • Available colors: 3
  • Available sizes: 2 – 12


A Tailored Menswear-Inspired Coat

If you prefer minimalist lines and classic cuts, this long coat features sharp lapels over a three-button closure for a timeless topper you’ll wear with everything. Two welt pockets on the front are warm and roomy without adding bulk, and the back is tailored for a nice fit. “I am in shock over the quality of this coat. It is well made. Warm. Overall worth it,” one fan gushed. It’s made from a blend of acrylic and polyester with a tiny touch of wool and comes lined in soft satin; dry clean it to keep looking crisp.

  • Available colors: 4
  • Available sizes: X-Small – XX-Large


The Prettiest Statement Necklace

Another way to instantly update your outfit is “when an eye-catching accessory is worn neck-up,” according to Russo. This sparkly statement necklace is a great finishing touch to layer with almost any top. It can fill in scoop necklines or be popped over a button-down shirt and fastened to the neck. It’s eye-catching without being too oversized and is surprisingly lightweight, too; find it in eight different colors from light crystal to dark faux onyx. “Well made, comfortable and totally stunning. Would absolutely buy again,” a reviewer remarked. Several shoppers raved that it was even more gorgeous in person.

  • Available colors: 8


Some Statement Earrings That Won't Weigh You Down

When asked about an accessory she can’t live without, Lippman says “A pair of earrings... especially on video [they have] been my go-to for the past couple of months.” These silky tassel earrings — backed by more than 2,500 Amazon reviews — are capped with a sparkly druzy stud for major impact without the weight. They come in dozens of colors to match your favorite wardrobe pieces, including ombre variations that add depth. “They’re beautiful, sturdy, yet incredibly light weight. I was completely surprised when they came with not one set, or two sets, but three sets of backs just in case you lose one. They’re totally versatile and can be worn to work, for a night out, or even casually. These were an excellent purchase and I highly recommend,” one fan remarked. “Perfect strangers crossed the room to tell me how awesome my earrings are,” another shopper commented.

  • Available colors: 30


A Silk Scarf You Can Use So Many Ways

When it comes to quick outfit hacks, Lippman suggests that a “unique color combination instantly elevates your look.” Pick up some faux silk scarves, in your favorite accent shades, that can be knotted on your bag, worn as a headband, or draped around your neck to add a pop of color. A scarf can do everything from upgrade neutral separates to inject boldness into a colorful outfit. This silk scarf comes in a generously sized 35-inch square you can wear numerous ways and comes in dozens of patterns across a range of styles. “I am absurdly thrilled with this scarf,” one reviewer confessed. “The scarf has a great liquid slip to it, and the weave is indistinguishable to the touch on the good side of the fabric. There are no snags or runs in the fabric, and the stitching is straight and without error.” At just $9 each, you can pick up a few.

  • Available colors: 40


A Gutsy Nail Polish Shade

A standout mani is a finishing touch that helps make everything look a little more “done.” Get a salon-quality look without leaving your home (or your pajamas) by stocking up on a quality bottle to keep at home. The OPI Scotland Collection brings a suite of moody hues, as well as highlands-inspired brights and opaque pastels with backbone. “It goes on neatly and doesn't get gunky after sitting in the bottle for a while. I'm rough with my hands so it's hard to make nail polish stay on if it's not gel, but this is very good classic polish,” one shopper reported. It's no

  • Available colors: 12


A Dainty Charm Necklace For A Subtle Accent

For those who prefer subtle statements, a dainty necklace might be all the accent you need. This delicate charm has rock ‘n’ roll appeal in a stylized pyramid stud with an opal accent — and you can find several different plating options to match your preference. This one is made from 14-karat gold plating, on a 16-inch chain with a two-inch extender so it works with almost any top. One shopper remarked: "I love that it is delicate, but also has just enough color to stand out! I'm very happy with this purchase, and I will be getting the gold one as well!"

  • Available colors: 14


The Statement Shoe One Stylist Would Buy Immediately

If Russo only had $50 to spend to refresh her look, a pair of Freedom Moses slides were on her list. They’re a kicky spin on the Birkenstock slide sandal, in soft rubber infused with a luxe milk and honey scent. In this abstract leopard print, they’re cute and casual with leggings and statement-making enough to support trendy outfits. They also happen to be totally waterproof and nonslip. “Love these shoes - purchased in multiple colors and styles. Fit is perfect and they are really comfortable for the pool or everyday use,” one shopper commented.

  • Available colors/patterns: 38
  • Available sizes: 4-5 – 11-12


The Ultra-Trendy Barrettes For Keeping Your Hair Back In Style

As Russo noted, “We see faces first.” Another way to draw attention to your features and upgrade your look is by leaning on the still-trending-strong statement barrette. Clip back bangs, pin your hair to one side, or use them to accent your style. In shiny gold, pearl, resin, and faux tortoiseshell, this 20-piece set will pair with just about everything so you’re guaranteed to get a lot of use out of them. “These are all super cute, not cheap at all! The barrettes are a bit larger than I was expecting, but that turned out better for me since I have such thick hair,” a reviewer commented. “I wear these for weddings and for work, so they work for any occasion.”

Available colors: 1 multi-colored set


A Bright And Shimmery Blush For Dewy Radiance

If you prefer to keep your makeup relatively natural, an iridescent flush of color on your cheeks offers low-impact drama. These cult shimmery drugstore blushes add the perfect dewy glow. Choose from a marbleized mix of shades in each cake for dimensional luster. With over 21,000 reviews, you might find a new holy grail in this one. “Such a silky, luminous formula that adds a natural glow to the skin,” a fan enthused; and several shoppers also noted that it was a great alternative to the famous Nars' Orgasm palette. If you're more of a bronzer fan, consider this shimmery bronzer that also delivers a radiant glow.

  • Available colors: 16


The Rancher Hat With Boho-Chic Vibes

Another item Russo would consider with $50 to spend is a “colorful rancher hat.” And you don’t get much more fun than this wide-brimmed fedora with a braided tassel band. It’s made from a blend of cotton, wool, and polyester and features a high peaked crown and nearly 3-inch brim. The adjustable one-size-fits-most hat has a ribbon string inside for a custom fit. Wear yours with everything from a floral dress to jeans and ankle boots — it's an instant outfit-maker that takes two seconds to throw on. "I am TRULY in love with this hat," one shopper declared. "Fit, style and comfort exceeded my expectations." Multiple shoppers chimed in that this quality hat was really well made and never failed to elicit compliments on the street.

  • Available colors: 14
  • Available sizes: one-size-only


An Ultra-Versatile Clutch That’s Big Enough For Daily Essentials

Russo also recommends a clutch as one piece that can make an impact on your overall presentation. This oversized clutch has structure and style with its sleek width and sharp edges. It comes in crocodile-embossed faux leather and is lined with a cotton-blend fabric, all finished with a sturdy zipper. Measuring 13 inches by 9.4 inches, there’s plenty of room for an iPad so you can be sure your must-haves will fit. Get it in black or a rich chocolate brown and carry it for everything from quick errands to brunch or take it out on the town for a date. It's seriously that versatile.

  • Available colors: 2


A Classic Blazer That Isn't Basic

A good blazer also makes Ressel's list of versatile must-haves. This plaid jacket is a great deal for a classic piece that can be worn so many ways. The warm brown check adds interest and depth to casual outfits and looks perfectly artsy-grunge with some mom jeans and a retro tee. It dresses up a sleek turtleneck and skirt just as well. The double-breasted blazer is so timeless, and you can even find a longer plaid coat in the same listing for a great statement layer. "Love, love , love this jacket and have received many compliments. So much more than expected. It’s completely lined and finished very well. Great quality for price," one fan noted.

  • Available colors: 6
  • Available sizes: Small – 4X-Large


The Perfectly Shrunken Tee

"If there was one thing every wardrobe should have, it's a basic white T-shirt," Zgonina says. "You can literally wear it with anything and it can be dressed up or down with the right styling and accessories." These tees get Russo's seal of approval for stocking up when it's time for a refresh. While you might be surprised to see that they are Hanes boys' T-shirts, they come perfectly shrunken with boxy feel. Reviewers confirm that the cotton is soft but thick and high-quality, and many note that they stand up to multiple rounds in the washing machine. They feature double-stitched seams and a flat collar that won't lose its shape. For a basic worth buying in multiples that you'll wear under everything from your favorite hoodie to a blazer, this is the tee for you — and that price simply can’t be beat.

  • Available colors: 1
  • Available sizes: X-Small – X-Large


An Edgy Clutch To Make Any Outfit Look Good

A clutch with major dazzle can transform even simple outfits — so much so that Ressel names "a fun clutch" as one of her wardrobe staples. This satin bag has a studded finish that’s outlined in a crystal pavé grid. There’s one slim pocket inside and a detachable chain strap so you can even use this as a crossbody bag. Get it in black or silver — either neutral will serve you well, because it works just as well with an evening dress as it does some cage heels and distressed denim for a girl's night out.

  • Available colors: 4


The Distressed Denim Jacket For Your Next Casual OOTD

A great jacket also makes Zgonina's list for what she'd buy with $50 to spend. "I love layers because they add depth and visual interest to a look, and it's an easy item to mix and match with different pieces to change up your look," she notes. One casual option is a denim jacket and, in an oversized cut, it's a laidback third piece you'll throw on with leggings for a weekend coffee run and drape over your shoulders with a cute dress for a low-key get-together. Choose from three different versions of distressing (or lack thereof), whether you want a subtle accent or a lived-in look. "Overall I am super stoked with this jacket. I want to wear this with almost every outfit I have. Can wear with leggings and an athletic shirt, dresses, graphic tees, you name it," one fan reported. In cotton denim with four functional pockets and a comfortably baggy fit, you'll want to wear this classic almost everywhere, too.

  • Available colors: 3
  • Available sizes: Small – Large


Some Cute Fashion Boots Under $50

Never underestimate a high-quality boot to elevate your look. Russo loves the Ralph Lauren Tally boot (if you're lucky enough to find it in stock). However, these similarly chic Chelsea boots from Evshine have a fashion-forward vibe and are truly wallet-friendly. They're made from lightweight and waterproof rubber with a slim ankle and elastic gore for a comfortable fit; the black has subtle sparkle, and you can also nab high-impact shades including glossy red, pink, and pearl. The interior is padded and lined so you don't have to sacrifice comfort for style. "So far they have been grippy on the bottom and so comfy," one reviewer reported. "The first day I wore them no joke, 4 different people stopped me in the office or on the street to say they loved the boots."

  • Available colors: 7
  • Available sizes: 5 – 11


If You Only Buy One Thing, Make It A Statement Top

When asked what she would buy to refresh her look, Lippman weighs in: "A statement puff sleeve top will immediately uplevel your look and make it look current." The cute party top style is quite versatile in a not-too-boxy cut that's made from lightweight polyester crepe. The statement shoulders add interest without effort and can make a major impact on a Zoom call, too. Get it in a chic neutral or really wow 'em with a saturated shade, including rich magenta and royal blue. Add chandelier earrings and you're ready to party. "This top is so cute! If you are into the puff sleeve trend, I highly recommend you purchase this blouse. I got the hot pink and I get so many compliments on it," one reviewer promised.

  • Available colors: 15
  • Available sizes: X-Small – X-Large


The Celebrity-Stylist-Approved Wardrobe Staple

"Dressing in monochromatic tones is very photogenic," celebrity stylist Jill Jacobs told The Zoe Report. "Neutrals are also very pleasing to the eye and calming." Pairing a textured skirt with a coat and thigh boots is just one way to lean into the look, according to Jacobs speaking with TZR. The refined lines of this pick are easy to dress up, but a cozy sweater knit makes this skirt equally worthy of comfy tees and white sneakers for a chic athleisure look. "If you are searching for a cheaper alternative to the very trendy sweater midi, this is a great option," one reviewer wrote of this find, adding that it was "a great alternative to the Free People sweater skirt." Several reviewers recommended sizing up for a less body-con fit.

  • Available colors: 19
  • Available sizes: X-Small – X-Large


The Piece Your Closet Is Missing, According To A Stylist

When asked which wardrobe staple she considered to be truly the most versatile, stylist Melanie Lippman opted for a more subtle power player. "A belt is something that is usually missing," she explained, calling it "the most useful piece once [a person owns] one!" A leopard print belt in genuine calf hair leather adds texture and color and looks glamorously high-end without relying on designer logos. Wear it with distressed denim and mules or cinch at the waist of a little black dress. "I was surprised by what a high-quality belt this is. I didn’t expect it would be so nice, especially at this price. The leather is outstanding and the leopard print is realistic (because of the real texture it is on). You would pay a lot of money to buy this belt in an expensive department store," one shopper pointed out.

  • Available colors: 3
  • Available sizes: XS – XL


The Perfect Black Ankle Boot

These black ankle boots have sleek lines, with a minimalist upper and low block heel. They're made from vegan leather, with a brushed finish that almost looks like Saffiano leather, and have a comfortable footbed that's easy to walk in all day thanks to an easy 2-inch heel. Wear them with everything from leggings and jeans to skirts and dresses. "I bought them for a trip to Paris and they were my most preferred shoe while there," one shopper raved. "I walked miles in these suckers & my feet still felt great at the end of the day. I wanted to dress the part while over there and these went with everything."

  • Available colors: 7
  • Available sizes: 5.5 – 11


This Boxy Menswear Blazer

An oversized blazer is another piece that can pull a look together in an instant. This boyfriend blazer has all the right lines in a cut that's easy to wear. It's soft and a bit drapey in a light polyester crepe, falling to the low hip with a double-breasted button front and flap pockets on each side. It looks amazing styled with jeans and a graphic tee, and makes a sophisticated outer layer for dressier looks, especially when draped over the shoulders.

  • Available colors: 5
  • Available sizes: Small – XX-Large


The Ultra-Soft Tee You'll Wear With Everything

If you loved the shrunken fit of the stylist-recommended Hanes boys' shirts above but prefer more standard sizes, this Fruit Of The Loom cotton tee is made from ultra-soft 100% cotton jersey that’s pre-shrunk for easy care. It has a good thick knit with high-quality finishing details like shoulder tape and a contoured fit through the body without clinging. For just $5, it’s an impossibly good deal for a basic tee, and it comes in just about every color you could want.

  • Available colors: 25
  • Available sizes: Small – 3X-Large


The Vivid Eye Shadow For A Simple Statement

Russo also recommends “a swipe of dramatic makeup” as a foolproof way to step up your style in an instant, suggesting fuschia eyeshadow for the brave. Having a budget-friendly palette of fun bright eyeshadows in your toolkit is a painless way to experiment with looks before committing to pricier brands, but NYX shadows are formulated so well that you may not want to trade. Their ultimate shadow palettes feature finely milled pigments that apply so smoothly. Even nicer, they’re PETA certified cruelty-free. “One of my all time favorite palettes. I don't have a lot of money to spend on makeup, but I wanted a colorful palette that gave me a good value and was decent quality. I'm really happy with this one,” a reviewer shared. “It stays pretty well all day and even into the next morning. The colors are BRIGHT and I always get compliments. They also blend well.” You can also find this palette in a larger 80-hue set.

  • Available colors: 8
  • Available sizes: 2

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