8 Zero-Cost Styling Ideas That Make You Look Like an Expert Dresser

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(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

After the better half of a decade writing about fashion, I know this much is true: You don't have to spend your whole paycheck on new clothes to look on-trend. In fact, I'd argue you don't have to drop a single penny to tap into some of the season's most current ensembles. Whether it's doubling up on belts, wearing your oxford shirt as a jacket, or adding crew socks with your heels, there are a handful of cool styling tricks that will inject your outfit with an air of in-the-know coolness in seconds flat.

Many of these styling tricks come from fashion people who are often the first ones to incorporate trend-forward styling ideas from the runways into their everyday outfits. To show you how, I'm highlighting a number of the cool styling tricks I'm spotting on the fashion crowd—none of which require any shopping to recreate (unless you want to, of course). Yep, I'd bet that you already have all the fixings in your closet to try these simple combinations out for yourself.

So if you're looking to freshen up the clothes already hanging in your closet, then keep scrolling below as I share eight ways to make your outfits look elevated and forward without you having to spend a fortune (or anything at all).

Wear socks with your pumps.

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(Image credit: @nlmarilyn)

Heels and... socks? Yes, heels and socks. The unlikely combo is one I keep spotting on some of the most stylish women I know and I like how the simple addition of contrasting socks creates tension with something ladylike such as point-toe pumps. Try it out next time your outfit feels overly polished to tone things down.

Wear a big belt over your dress.

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(Image credit: @vivianhoorn)

There's no question that belts are having a moment. The ways to wear one are infinite but using a statement belt to cinch a simple dress is easily one of my favorites. Whether you wear one to highlight your waist over a column dress like Vivian did above or sling a chain belt low on your hips, a cool belt might just be the accessory your plain dresses were missing.

In fact, double up on belts.

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(Image credit: @anna__laplaca)

Speaking of the power of belts, an outfit trick I'm personally backing is the double-belt. Thanks to Miu Miu's fall 2022 runway for first putting the idea in my mind. While the first belt actually does the work of holding my jeans in place, the addition of a second one is purely aesthetic. I suggest trying it out with a belt one or two sizes up so there's room for it to sit on your hips.

Layer your shirt unbuttoned over a turtleneck.

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(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

There's something quite '90s about layering a button-down over a turtleneck. I'll get back to you when I figure out what the exact reference is, but until then, it's a sophisticated look I recommend tapping into. Create a stylish effect by wearing your shirt partially or all the way unbuttoned and tuck it into jeans or trousers to hold it in place. Pro tip: reach for a sleeveless turtleneck when you don't need the warmth of that second layer.

Double up on T-shirts.

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(Image credit: Zara; Pictured: Zara Nylon-Blend Parachute Pants ($60))

I'm sorry for this next one, but all those layered T-shirts we used to fawn over in the early 2000s might just be coming back. At least, the styling teams at Zara and Mango seem the think so. Lately, both sites have been showing long-sleeve tees layered one on top of another in contrasting colors. At Miu Miu S/S '23, t-shirt dresses were styled with the same effect, so this feels like the IRL way to wear it. Test out the waters with contrasting neutral tones like black and white or cream and gray.

Throw on a button-down as a jacket.

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(Image credit: @tamaramory)

Sure, you may own plenty of button-downs and even wear them often, but may I suggest wearing an oversized style open as a jacket? The Row presented the genius idea when they dressed Kendall Jenner in that one viral outfit with a button-down, crewneck tee, and trousers and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

Layer a long skirt with tights.

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(Image credit: @pernilleteisbaek)

Layering tights underneath long skirts is something women in northern regions have always done for warmth, but lately the styling idea has caught on in the fashion world with brands like Tibi and Tory Burch co-opting the idea. Tights had a major place on the fall runways, too, so it's an easy way to test a trendier pair like fishnets or colored tights.

Flip down the waistband of your trousers.

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(Image credit: @tamaramory)

Pants too big? Flip the waistband. Whether you thrifted a pair that are too big or intentionally bought them upsized, try flipping the waistband down for both a tighter fit and an eye-catching detail. Or, peruse one of the styles below that gives the same effect.

Up next, see the 10 spring It bags we saw on Instagram and immediately wanted to buy.

Editor

Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.