There are some women who can somehow make a cheap clothing find look like an expensive store splurge. The secret to such a cultivated style isn't magic: It is knowledge of how to spot the design details that make clothes seem cheap — and the ones that make them look way more expensive than they are. Here are some signs that a piece is of low quality and how you can be sure even your on-the-low purchase look luxe.
Sweaters: A whisper-thin cashmere knit is a thing of great beauty, but nothing makes your basic cotton or wool look cheaper than when it is transparent or hangs badly. When you are bargain-shopping for sweaters, make sure you choose thick, substantial knits. It is even better if the top has textural details like ribbing or cables. The rule of thumb is thicker is better.
Jeans: Jeans with too much stretch can look thin, insubstantial, and more youthful than you intend to wear. If you looked at the average teenager, you will see them sport jeggings that are not for mature women. You want weighty denim that looks like it can take a beating, and not rip if you get off the couch too quickly. A good ratio to look for is 98% cotton, 2% elastane (also known as Lycra or Spandex). That way, your denim comes off more downtown-cool than school-going chic.
Rings: when you buy a cool, chunky cocktail ring at the low-priced store, you can be sure that the shiny faux jewel will eventually slip out of its setting and roll right into the nearest grate, leaving you the proud owner of a glob of glue on a fake-gold band. Instead, make your statement with a set of stacking bands. Preferably ones that have a hammered finish that will hide the inevitable gold-plate rub-off.
Jackets: If you love wearing a trendy jacket with your outfits, go for tailored fits, luxe-like fabrics, and sophisticated add-ons that make your selection appear much more high-end than the price tags warrant. For winter, silky bombers look great with all-black, simple ensembles whist a dazzling printed blazer is an instant upgrade on winter fashion with a simple circle skirt and classy shoes.
Faux leather bags: Whether you are looking for a bargain or an ethical buy, there is nothing wrong with fake leather. When you make the wrong choice, the result is not so glamorous and a very cheap look.
Look for a pebbled or textured style, because it will more closely mimic the matte finish of the real bag. Also, try a structured shape — a satchel, duffle bag, or shopper tote will make the best of the faux leather's tendency toward stiffness.
Platform heels: Platform heels are fine, but most lower-priced shoe manufacturers just do not get them right. And wobbling around on too-high, wannabe plats are just an accident waiting to happen. If you're bargain shopping, best to avoid platform heels and try boots or colourful flats instead.
Booties: Nothing cheapens a cute pair of booties like a bunch of glaringly fake, too-shiny gold or silver accents all over the place. Choose a muted, everyday ankle boot, and avoid the studs, buckles, and exposed zippers that will snap off in a week anyway.