My Trick for Looking Like I Earn Way More Than I Do

how to make an outfit look expensive



I'll let you in on a little secret of mine: The first thing I notice about people is their shoes. Whether I'm getting to know someone on a first date or idly people watching on the street, the shoes on someone's feet can usually tell me everything I need to know about the person. Well, not everything, but it gives me a pretty good idea about them. Are they wearing sneakers? They probably value comfort. Are their white sneakers impossibly clean? Chances are that they're a meticulous person.

Since I'm pretty attuned to the footwear choices of others, here's how I use it my advantage. By making the right choice in shoes and bags, I've learned how to make myself appear as if I qualify in a higher tax bracket than I actually do. At just one year out of college and into my fully-employed adult life, it's not as if I have a massive budget to be shopping for luxury items all the time. Which is why I've discovered the trick to faking an expensive outfit: investing in a quality bag and shoes. Even if I'm wearing head-to-toe Zara, the luxury finishings will elevate my whole outfit to a Net-a-Porter-level price tag.

Every Who What Wear editor seems to favor the same high-low combinations as I do. Just below, see how my co-workers and I are using this trick to our advantage and shop the shoes and bags we love most.

Nicole's luxe fur-lined, crystal-embellished mules instantly elevate her otherwise casual outfit while a sleek crossbody bag ties the whole thing together.

Available in sizes 5 to 11.

expensive looking outfits



Look familiar? Kristen's Who What Wear blazer actually costs $40, but when it's styled alongside classic accouterments like neutral block-heeled shoes and a quilted leather bag, it could pass as luxury itself.

Available in sizes 38 to 40.

affordable outfits



Well-maintained white shoes are a foolproof way of looking quite rich. Kat coupled hers with an adorable mini bag and voilà, her high-street clothes just earned more value.

Available in sizes 38 to 40.

how to look rich



Lauren's colorful bag and patent mary-janes freshen up her jeans and a tee and give off the impression that she owns an entire closet full of equally expensive-looking items.

Available in sizes 36 to 39.

how to dress rich



Gina expertly coordinated the colors in her outfit with her shoes and bag.

Available in sizes 5 to 10.

Black leather accessories are my favorite way to elevate any outfit.

Available in sizes 35 to 41.

how to look richer than you are



Another key detail to pay attention to is hardware—make sure it's consistent throughout your outfit.

Available in sizes 4 to 12.

outfits that only look expensive



Don't forget about vintage! Shop for designer wares at a much lower price point and achieve the same effect as buying brand-new.

Available in size 8.

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