My Mom Taught Me These 5 Tricks to Always Make an Outfit Look Expensive

It’s a known fact among my family and friends: I got my love for clothing from my mother. My mom won best dressed in high school and ever since has always known the latest trends, read more fashion magazines than me, and never failed to look über stylish. So it really wasn’t a shock when I started expressing interest in the fashion world at a young age.

Throughout the years, I’ve picked up plenty of style advice from her (obviously along with a lot of really great life advice), and since I ended up as an editor at Who What Wear, I’m convinced it was pretty good. The one thing she was always a stickler about was making sure I looked expensive when I walked out the door. And she taught me that I didn’t need designer labels to do so.

When shopping, she’d check the bags I picked to see if the hardware looked okay, make sure my jewelry wasn’t about to turn my finger green, and always steer me toward the real-leather options when it came to shoes and handbags. To this day, I still take her tips and tricks into account when I’m looking for things to buy. Want to see the items that are mom-approved? Keep scrolling.

This is one of the first things my mom taught me. Cheap-looking hardware (think chains, buckles, and buttons) can make a piece look less expensive than it is. That’s why, when I can, I buy pieces without any hardware at all, so I can avoid the issue altogether.

If it looks like it’s going to turn my skin green, I try to avoid it. I learned from my mom to search product descriptions for words like “gold-plated,” “vermeil,” and “gold-filled.”

Just because something is made with leather, doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to be super expensive or designer. In fact, you can find good leather gems at some of your favorite affordable retailers (or even some good on-sale options at pricier sites). Even though I can find some really good faux-leather options (like the bag pictured above!), I also like to invest in the real deal since I know it’ll be more likely to hold up over time.

I think I’ve said this a million times, but my mom agrees: Neutrals just make everything look chicer. We’re both not sure what it is, but it’s the quickest way to make your outfit look five times more elevated.

This is a discovery we’ve both found in recent years, but you can’t argue with us—puff sleeves are this year’s most stylish must-have. And luckily, there are a lot of really affordable options!

Up next: Here’s Exactly How I’d Spend $200 at Shopbop, Mango, Nordstrom, and H&M.

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