Small Budget, Expensive Taste: 7 Items I'm Buying to Look On-Trend This Summer

Does anyone else have expensive taste, small budget syndrome? I’ll admit that my style preferences don't always reflect my available bank balance. I seem to be drawn to luxurious designer pieces, sumptuous fabrics, sophisticated silhouettes, and elevated styles—which all tend to carry a hefty price tag. Luckily, as Who What Wear's senior market editor, I've become hugely savvy on how to satisfy my expensive taste without breaking the bank. I tend to reach for modern detailing, refined silhouettes, and opulent fabrics that exude a luxurious vibe.

With the warmer weather approaching, I'm highlighting a handful of items I'm eyeing that are guaranteed to make you look on-trend this summer. From sheer skirts to mesh ballet flats and '90s-inspired pieces, the finds below look luxe and are trend-forward. Best of all, everything is under $100.

Luxe-Looking Linen

Fashion influencer in linen pants and black shirt.

(Image credit: @deborabrosa)

This summer, it's all about effortlessly elegant linen items such as tailored trousers and breezy button-downs. These picks will add a rich-looking touch to your outfits.


Elegant Footwear

Woman in white outfit and black flat shoes.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

From sleek black slingbacks to pointed-toe flats and trending satin shoes, these fashion-forward and elegant styles will take your outfit from subpar to sophisticated in an instant.


Preppy Cool

Emili Sindlev in striped polo top and hot pants.

(Image credit: @emilisindlev)

If Miuccia Prada says preppy polo shirts, academic blazers, boat shoes, and sporty swim bottoms feel right for spring/summer 2024, who are we to disagree? Whether you have a membership to a country club or not, it's easy to emulate this preppy-meets-sporty, moneyed aesthetic without spending a fortune.


Butter Yellow

Influencer in butter yellow vest and pants.

(Image credit: @monikh)

Spotted everywhere on the spring runways, beautiful, barely-there butter yellow is already shaping up to be the top color trend of the season—as seen on a whole host of fashion people in the past month. It's fresh and pretty, looks luxe, and is surprisingly versatile.


'90s Basics

French fashion influencer in black '90s dress.

(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

Minimalistic silhouettes are here to stay this summer, and whether you opt for a slip dress, boatneck silhouette, column skirt, or gray tailoring, the discreet-chic look is understated and cool.


Full Skirts and Dresses

Woman in black blazer and white full skirt.

(Image credit: @taffymsipa)

Whether you go for a skirt or dress, A-line silhouettes are having a major moment this summer and will add an elegant touch to your look. Stick to crisp neutral hues and style with chic Mary Janes or ballet flats for a luxe-looking outfit.


All Things Sheer

Woman in sheer green dress.

(Image credit: @carodaur)

The momentum for all things sheer isn't slowing down any time soon. We saw a whole host of ethereal dresses and skirts in white, pastels, and gray float across the spring/summer runways. For a wearable take on the trend, opt for a sheer skirt paired with a plain tee or a transparent blouse layered over a bra or tank and styled with jeans.


Judith Jones
Senior Fashion Market Editor

Judith Jones is the senior fashion market editor at Who What Wear who specializes in shopping content and trend stories with high-affiliate impact. She shares the coolest, most desirable fashion market finds and brands for every budget. Previous to working in fashion, Judith worked as a TV host on the PBS travel show Globe Trekker (airing on Netflix and Amazon Prime) sharing her passion for travel and culture.