3 Things That Make Cheap Boots Look Expensive

I don’t need to tell you that boot season is officially in full swing (and has been for a while). After all, we're in December, if you can believe it! However, if you’re still struggling to find the perfect pair(s), and your budget isn’t making matters any easier, today I am here to help. Not only have I rounded up 18 affordable boots that look anything but cheap, but, as I did with sweaters, I’ve also broken down the three things you should look for (or avoid) while shopping for the footwear essential on a budget. Trust me when I tell you that these tips will help you end up with the most expensive-looking pair possible (even if the price tag is anything but). 

So whether you stick with just one of the below rules or want to overachieve with a pair that ticks all three boxes, just keep scrolling to learn what to look for, and, of course, shop my picks along the way.

1. Embossing


(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

The croc-embossing trend on clothing, handbags, and shoes that has been gaining (and maintaining) steam for quite a few seasons now isn’t just luxe-looking when the price tag is high. Affordable versions of embossed items possess the same high-end quality as their designer counterparts, which makes it a great detail to look for in a boot.

2. Minimal Hardware


(Image credit: Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

As my colleague, Allyson, recently pointed out, hardware is a difficult detail to do well at an affordable price, so it’s best to stay clear of shoes with any studs, chains, buckles, statement zippers, and embellishments when shopping for affordable shoes. Poorly done hardware can instantly cheapen an item, whereas minimalist styles tend to look more expensive.

3. Black


(Image credit: Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

Great news for minimalists: The most expensive-looking boot color is, without a doubt, black. Whether it’s suede, leather, or fabric, affordable materials look best in dark colors, and since it doesn’t get darker than black, it’s definitely your safest bet when you don’t want to risk buying something that looks cheap. 

Up next: 27 cool bags that are worth your money—even if it's just $24.

Nicole Akhtarzad Eshaghpour
Senior Market Editor

Since starting as an intern back in 2013, Nicole Akhtarzad Eshaghpour has held several roles here at Who What Wear, and she is currently senior market editor. It was a less expected route, seeing as she was graduating from business school at USC when this all began, but it has turned out to be the best one for her. Fast-forward to 2020, and she's moved to NYC from her hometown of Beverly Hills and spends her workdays a little differently from when she was an intern starting out. Currently, she focuses on a weekly mélange of shopping content. As far as her personal style goes, she's largely drawn to classic pieces and neutral basics but will always make an exception for something colorful, printed, or bejeweled as long as it's deemed worthy enough. After all, the only thing she loves more than a good party is dressing up for one. On weekdays, she can usually be found at home eating something delicious for dinner and trying to force her husband to watch 90 Day Fiancé.