Not everyone has the budget of Richard Branson to afford the designer wardrobe of their dreams. For those of us who are still going to school or just starting their career, money isn’t likely to be flowing in as abundantly as you may be wishing. So how can you look like a million bucks on a budget?
Just because you don’t have a millionaire’s bank account just yet, doesn’t mean you can’t at least look like you do. There are so many alternative options and styling tricks that will not only stretch your dollar but have you looking like you just stepped off a page of GQ.
First and foremost, before we even talk about what to buy and where to shop, having clothing that fits correctly is golden to always looking good. Ever see the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company in an ill-fitting suit? Didn’t think so.
It's Not Just What You Wear, But How You Wear It
Your clothes should fit as if they were tailored for your body, even if they weren’t. If something fits too big, it’s going to look like a hand-me down from your dad. If the fit is too small, it’s going to look like you are auditioning for a part on Jersey Shore or haven’t bothered buying new clothing since high school.
A Million Dollar Look Begins With You
The second and most important key to always looking great is to take good care of yourself. While it’s most likely a no brainer, taking good care of yourself from the inside out will only aide in elevating your appearance. Taking your multi vitamins, wearing a daily moisturizer with SPF, getting an adequate amount of exercise and drinking a lot of water are vital to taking good care of your skin. Lastly, and I hate to state the obvious but make sure your grooming is on point. Your hair should be clean and cut regularly, and facial hair should be trimmed or shaven. If you have a fuller beard be sure to wash it regularly.
Don't Just Pick From The Pile
Also invest in some minor purchases to help with the upkeep and appearance of your clothing. Have a steamer handy to smooth out any wrinkled shirts or pants, buy strong and thick hangers to hang your clothing, and maintain a well-organized closet space. There are mini steamers available on Amazon that go for around $20, and work just as fine as the more expensive ones.
Hangers are inexpensive and can be found in packs of varying quantities at places like Target, Dollar Tree, or Marshalls.
And Don't Complicate It
Outfit staples that will elevate your already existing wardrobe are going to be your best friend. Think linen and cotton blazers, cashmere sweaters, button-down shirts, and trousers.
These are pieces that can be mixed and matched with casual or professional wear. Versatility is key! By focusing on purchasing pieces like this you can ensure that you will get the most bang for your buck.
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A major key wardrobe staple that will automatically elevate any look is a light but well-fitted blazer. It doesn’t matter what your style is, this is one piece every man should own and learn how to incorporate into his lifestyle. A blazer can be styled over a button-down and a pair of trousers for a professional look, or dressed down over a T-shirt and jeans for something more casual yet polished. When choosing a blazer, be sure to choose one that has at least some minor tailoring, and is of a lighter fabric, like a cotton blend or linen. This will keep it versatile!
For a blazer that will look straight off the runway but for less than a fraction of the price, I highly recommend looking at Zara’s selection. They have a wide variety of trendy and modern styles that go beyond just basic and boring; not to mention the fits are pretty good, especially considering the prices.
It's Not Always About The Brand
Most people think you’ve got to shell out the big bucks for stylish and good fitting denim, but what if I told you there was an affordable store that specialized in denim and has a million different fits and styles to choose from? It sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, it’s not. Most people forget, or often don’t even consider them as a place to shop for cool clothes, but Old Navy is an amazing resource for cheap and good quality denim. They use some of the same manufacturers as Diesel and other higher-end brands for their jeans, so think of it as buying designer jeans for hundreds of dollars off.
Old Navy has such a variety of different fits, washes and styles to choose from that there’s no way you won’t be able to find the perfect pair.
Whatever wash or style you go for, stick to a slim, skinny or straight cut. These styles are the most modern and are what’s currently in trend. The pair of skinnys above, in a mid-wash, are a perfect example of the styles they have for less than $50.
The Number One Giveaway...
Having worked at luxury stores for a few years, I can tell you the number one giveaway to how well someone lives is by their shoes. Never have I met a successful businessman or woman in dirty, worn-in shoes from Payless, no matter what day of the week it was. Having a few clean and fresh pairs of shoes is a big key to looking like you are worth a lot more than you are. A good pair of shoes don’t need to be expensive, but should be of decent quality and be a classic yet cool style. For casual, opt for a black pair of Converse or Vans. Both options are timeless and affordable, and black makes it easy to maintain.
For more professional or special occasions opt for a pair of genuine leather dress shoes. Clarks is a great brand to try if you are on a budget but want classic style with great quality.
Last But Not Least
The best way to look like a million dollars without having to spend any money is to just be confident in yourself. Confidence never goes out of style! Take time to understand, accept and love yourself for who you are. That type of confidence will exude through no matter what you are wearing.
About the author
Hi, I'm Lauren,
In addition to writing, I am also a fashion stylist based in San Francisco. I have been styling and writing for the last few years.