3 Colour Combinations That Don't Look Expensive and 8 That Definitely Do

It's safe to say that everyone may have different ideas of what makes an outfit look "cheap" or "expensive." But one thing we do know is that an item's price point does not always dictate the way it will be perceived. It's easy to fall into the trap of "more is more," assuming that adding designer pieces into your outfit equation is enough to guarantee a premium aesthetic. Often, it's the simplest things that can make your ensembles look more elevated, and today, I'm going to talk about one of the easiest sartorial tricks in the book: colour combinations.

Wearing different and unexpected colours with one another can instantly update your look, and I like to try out fresh combinations on a semi-regular basis to ensure I'm not limiting myself to specific pieces. This is something I indulged in a spot of recently, throwing open my wardrobe doors so I could see my clothing collection in its entirety and then pulling out garments and pairing them with pieces I hadn't previously thought of.

Sure, some of the formulations I tried didn't work and definitely didn’t look as chic as I would have liked. There’s just something about black and fuchsia that falls short for me (no judgment if you love the combination). I wasn’t taken with purple and yellow either, and I always avoid green and red (unless looking like an extra from The Grinch is my goal). But this, my friends, is all part of the journey. What I did notice, however, was how some colours seemed to look especially expensive when worn with other shades. To test the theory, I styled my tangerine linen shirt with a pair of sandy-coloured tailored trousers I'd forgotten I owned, and the shirt looked timeless and way more expensive than it was. This got me thinking: Are there more expensive-looking colour combinations I've neglected?

I took my search to Instagram, where I found that many of the influencers I follow have also been experimenting with impressive colour combinations of late. After falling into something of a fashion rabbit hole, hours later, I emerged having found expensive-looking colour combinations I couldn't wait to try, and I have a feeling you're going to like them, too. From classic pairings that will forever stand the test of time to the chicest ways to incorporate this season's trending tones, scroll on to see the expensive-looking colour combinations influencers are obsessed with right now.



(Image credit: @emnitta)

Style Notes: For years, brown was largely considered to be outdated in fashion circles, but after it began to reappear in the collections of high-end designers, it’s become elevated once more and looks particularly polished when worn with gold accents. 

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(Image credit: @naaomiross)

Style Notes: On paper, wearing blue and yellow together sounds like it would run the risk of looking garish, but when you add powdery, soft blue tones into the equation, the combination is sure-fire chic. 

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(Image credit: @basma_k)

Style Notes: The only thing more pleasing than the unintentional rhyming of the words sage and beige is how they look when worn together. Classy with a capital C. 

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(Image credit: @modedamour)

Style Notes: Of all the colour combinations out there, it’s hard to find one more timeless than black and white. This season, the runways were flooded with monochrome looks, but updated with white as the predominant color in the white-to-black ratio. Handily, this is perfect for summer, when white looks so fresh. 

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(Image credit: @femmeblk)

Style Notes: Earthy hues always wear beautifully together, and the combination of rust and moss green is no exception. You need only look at the outfit above for information that this pairing looks so expensive. 

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(Image credit: @hannastefansson)

Style Notes: Though fashion types formerly avoided pairing red and pink, now it’s considered one of the most directional colour combinations out there and never misses the mark. 

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(Image credit: @monikh)

Style Notes: Cream and ecru tones have the power to make every outfit look significantly more expensive, but paired with navy, even for casual looks, this is a combination that always looks so high-end. 

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(Image credit: @monikh)

Style Notes: Orange began to dominate the fashion scene last year, and since has proved it has unwavering staying power, especially when stone separates are involved. 

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This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.

Next Up: The 9 New-In Pieces I'm Adding to My Wish List This Week

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over twelve years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories, and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, works closely with influencer talent on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media. Previously, Maxine appeared on TV in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. 

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship, she was offered a position on the Look magazine fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. She went on to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others. Maxine works remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh.