Remember that really cute plaid shirt you paid $200 for last fall? We can pretty much guarantee there are equally ones just as stylish for just $50. You could’ve saved that extra $150 for a timeless pair of black pumps you’ll wear for years to come. That’s how smart shoppers think—and we have 16 chic wardrobe staple examples to prove it.
Scroll down for our spend vs. save guide —smarter shopping awaits you!
H&M Denim Shorts ($25) in Light Denim Blue
It’s very hard to tell the difference between a pricey pair of cut-off denim shorts and a more affordable set. This perfect, basic pair from H&M will get you through the summer with style and ease.
Monserat De Lucca Botevara Large Pouch ($110) in Rose Gold
Save up for a quality everyday bag by getting an inexpensive, simple clutch with one or two standout details. This roomy metallic pouch with a tassel zipper pull is a great option—you’ll only use it occasionally, so justifying a higher-priced option would be tough.
Gap Boyfriend Shirt ($55) in Red Plaid
There are countless affordable, quality plaid shirts in the retail universe. Purchase a few, and rotate them throughout the year to create different outfits. We particularly love this oversized Gap version in one of our favorite classic color combinations.
Blank Denim Jean Jacket ($92) in Toe Jam
Save your money for your dream leather jacket by choosing this chic under-$100 option as your go-to denim jacket.
Everlane The Slingback Sandals ($98) in Fig/Rhum
Finding a pair of affordable, well-made sandals is an easy task, as they don’t require a lot of material. Needless to say, you’ll probably burn through them in one summer, given how much you’ll wear them to the beach and beyond—so don’t spend more than $100. We love the versatile color combination and simple design of this pair.
J.Crew Two-Tone Panama Hat ($55) in Natural Navy
A fun hat is much less fun with a high price tag. Instead, choose one of the many affordable styles, like this cool twist on a standard panama hat.
Zara Fringed Cupro Dress ($100) in Charcoal
Let’s face it: you’re probably not going to wear your going-out dresses very often, so keep it thrifty. Luckily, you’re going to hunt out opportunities to wear this subtly fringed slip dress on the regular.
L.L. Bean French Sailor’s Shirt ($30) in Cream/Navy
When you can find a classic nautical striped top as perfect as this one, why would you spend more than $30? Based on how often you’ll wear it, the cost per wear will plummet quickly.
Sophie Hulme Stamped Zip Plate Tote Bag ($940) in Navy
Look for a roomy handbag made of quality leather with interesting details, such as the studded gold hardware plates on this stunning navy satchel. Err on the side of classic, as opposed to trendy, and you’ll carry it for years to come.
Sunday Somewhere Laura Sunglasses ($240) in Marble/Black
Opt for a pair of tortoiseshell frames in a classic shape, like cat-eye, and you won’t regret spending a little extra.
Theory Jaho Crepe Blazer ($595) in Black
This perfect black blazer will come to your rescue in a multitude of situations. For the best fit and fabric, invest in a go-to brand for quality, such as Theory (shown), Helmut Lang, or Rag & Bone. We’re obsessing over this version’s notched-collar detail—we recommend wearing it with a high bun to show it off.
Acne Studios Pop Jeans ($270) in Light Vintage
For the perfect slouch, wash, rise, and fit in one pair of jeans, it’s worth it to spring for a pricier designer pair. You’ll wear them on a regular basis, and you’ll look cool and put-together every time you do.
Saint Laurent Paris Classic Pumps ($625) in Noir Black
These classic pumps are sexy, sophisticated, and stylish. You’ll magically feel more confident when you slip them on, whether you’re going to work or out on the town. This Saint Laurent pair is beautiful and sturdy.
Equipment Sloane Cashmere Sweater ($270) in Camel
A cheaply made cashmere sweater is not a pretty sight after a few wears and a trip to the drycleaner (there will be a pilling situation). Instead, invest in quality cashmere in a neutral hue. Just be sure to store it properly when not in use, to protect the delicate fabric.
Iro Tara Front-Zip Leather Jacket ($1,260) in Dark Brown
It goes without saying that we’re obsessed with leather moto jackets. Most fitted, buttery-leather versions won’t come cheap, but the joy your purchase will bring when you repeatedly reach for it will justify how diligently you saved your hard-earned cash. We’re particularly smitten with the unique color of this Iro design.
3.1 Phillip Lim Silk Tapered Pants ($375) in Black
There’s something about a pair of expertly tailored black pants that can’t be replicated on the cheap. This silk 3.1 Phillip Lim pair is everything that black pants should be and more. A slightly cropped version will allow you to pair them with flats or heels—versatility for the win!
Do you agree with our save vs. spend suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!