Looking Expensive On A Budget

Sydney personal stylist, Sharon Billingham

photo credit www.stylescribe.com

Probably the worst judgment one woman can ever pass on another is, “She looks cheap.”

What does that mean?  The dictionary defines cheap as costing little or being inexpensive, but we know that’s not what we’re referring to.  Quite often a woman who might be described as “cheap” has spent thousands of dollars decking herself out in luxury labels and ostentatious logos.  She’s a walking billboard for all the brands she’s wearing.

Looking cheap/expensive is not just about  how much you spend on your clothes. It’s about attitude and self-care. And about being comfortable in your own skin.

I’ve met gorgeous women who emanate confidence and self-assurance.  You probably know a few too.  They look like a million bucks even though you know they’re not big shoppers or are on a limited budget because they’re working hard to put 3 kids through private school.

So what’s the secret to looking rich without looking like you’ve spent a fortune?

1.  Avoid being too much of anything.  Too much skin, too much tan, too much bling, too much colour, too much pattern.  These can all tip you over the edge into cheap territory.  Instead aim for quiet, understated and subtle. Imagine “old money”. They never had to advertise being rich, it just oozed through their pores. Stick to classic (yes potentially boring) shapes and colours. Invest in luxury items if you choose to, but for the enduring quality not the logo.

2.  Devote time to personal grooming. At times, it’s easy to forget that we have in-built accessories – our hair, skin and nails – that accentuate who we are and can speak more about us than our clothes.  Get regular cut and colours. If  you haven’t changed your hairstyle in 10 years, you need to.  Whatever your skincare regime, clean, moisturise and protect your skin from the sun.  Trim and keep your nails tidy.  Have regular mani/pedis if you like or go for the natural look with just a buff. The devil is truly in the details.

3.  Mix high and low. You don’t need to have a whole wardrobe of expensive things. It’s actually more savvy to mix high-end items with low-end ones.  Remember how Sharon Stone wore a Gap t-shirt with a Valentino skirt to the Academy Awards?   If you expect to wear something for a long time then be prepared to pay more for  better fit and fabric quality.  Stretch your budget by filling in the gaps with items from chain stores.  (You can read my review of Uniqlo here.)

Over to you. What do you think makes a woman look rich and polished?