10 Expensive-Looking Staples Every Wardrobe Could Benefit From

I admit it; I have expensive taste, and I'm also quite (read: very) picky. I always have been. When I was a teenager, knowledge of labels generally wasn't as prevalent as now. (We have the internet and social media to thank for that.) But even then, I found myself gravitating towards pieces of substance and brands of note over the quick and easy wardrobe updates that would tempt my friends. I dressed older than my years, which, at the time, sometimes meant I felt the opposite of "trendy". Looking back, however, at photographs of my best friend's 16th birthday party, to which I wore wide-leg tailored trousers and a silky camisole, I'm just grateful that such photographs don't make me cringe today.

Now, a fully-fledged adult, I'm still picky and have the same expensive taste. My budget, however? Well, it doesn't always allow me to indulge in the latter. As such, I've become something of a dab hand at spotting expensive-looking pieces at any price point, as well as unearthing the pieces that are worth a more significant investment. Generally speaking, these are classic wardrobe staples—pieces that will forever be stylishly appropriate. Below, I've listed 10 such items, with shopping from our favourite high-street and premium brands to match. 

From the dress that will carry you through a host of occasions to the denim update that will make your outfits look more premium, scroll on to see the expensive-looking fashion staples your wardrobe will always benefit from. 



(Image credit: @lizzyhadfield)

Style Notes: Of all the dress trends out there, none look quite so expensive as those featuring satin fabrications. Be it for weddings or just elevated weekend attire, there’s no summer occasion a satin dress can’t handle. 

Shop the staple:



(Image credit: @_jessicaskye)

Style Notes: Lighter-coloured jeans always make a comeback in the warmer months. As is often the case, it’s the little things that can make your outfits more premium—instead of opting for pure white jeans, I suggest looking for off-white or ecru pairs, as they tend to look more expensive. 

Shop the staple:



(Image credit: @brittanybathgate)

Style Notes: If your goal is to look rich and unbothered, a printed square scarf will certainly get you there. Worn in your hair or around your neck or tied to the strap of your bag, this is a common detail I see in the most expensive-looking outfits. 

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(Image credit: @lindseyholland )

Style Notes: Leather jackets are classic, this we know, but if you’re in the market for something that looks a little more elevated, seek out the boxy styles that are currently dominating the fashion scene. With less of an emphasis on the metal hardware and more of a focus on the sleek silhouette, these look more spendy in my eyes. 

Shop the staple:



(Image credit: @leasy_inparis)

Style Notes: Perhaps the most in-demand item on our list, striped knitwear is proving incredibly popular with fashion people right now. There’s just something so inherently luxe about a Breton stripe. 

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(Image credit: @nlmarilyn)

Style Notes: Rotate your black tailoring with pieces in a softer but no-less-sleek navy hue. 

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(Image credit: @ch.phr8ph)

Style Notes: When I want to look like I’ve put considerable amounts of effort into my look but, in reality, have neither the time nor the patience to do so, I simply add pearl jewellery. Et voilà—your outfit looks expensive. 

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(Image credit: @abimarvel)

Style Notes: Though I do have a soft spot for basket bags, this year, I’m looking to invest in a chic canvas tote, as I generally find they look more elevated than my beloved basket weaves. 

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(Image credit: @monikh)

Style Notes: Though they were prevalent last summer, the relaxed shirt returned for 2023, with so many influencers already wearing theirs. Effortless and endlessly versatile, it’s key pieces like this that make whatever you’re wearing look timeless and, thus, more expensive. 

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Style Notes: Loafers are a classic wardrobe staple that will never go out of style. Thanks to brands like The Row and Gucci, who put them on the map, they’re considered to be a very premium footwear choice (even if you buy yours on the high street). 

Shop the staple:

Next Up: They're Here the Most Stylish Cashmere Jumpers for Every Budget

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

Opening image: @symphonyofsilk/

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically 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, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning 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 at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.