I Won't Go Near Basics With These Cheap-Looking Details

Why basic clothes look cheap


The Style Stalker/Szymon Brzóska

One of my fellow WWW editors recently wrote about why she’ll never buy shoes with excess hardware for risk of them looking cheap. And you know what, it really got me thinking. What I realized is that I actually tend to avoid basics (which is what makes up the majority of my wardrobe) that have very specific design details as well because they skew somewhat cheap to me. To highlight further, I rounded up the culprits that can make staple items like jeans and sweaters feel chintzy. I also shopped out high-end-feeling iterations of each of the basics in question. Oh, and because an expensive-looking outfit doesn’t have to actually be expensive, everything highlighted below rings in under $100.


While I like a little stretch in my jeans for comfort, I don’t like excess stretch because the denim can then appear a bit too flimsy and unsubstantial for my liking. My perfect formula is either 100% cotton, or 99% cotton and 1% to 2% elastane.

Fashion editors are all about these jeans for the classic fit an on-trend wash.

A pair of jeans with a wider leg will inherently feel more elevated and special.

The heavier-weight fabric brings a substantial quality to these jeans.

There's just the right amount of whiskering on these stylish mom jeans.

Yes, distressing can actually have an expensive feel if you choose jeans with forward details like a straight cut with a step hem.


Thin cashmere sweaters are undoubtedly glorious, but if I’m shopping for a more affordable cotton pick, I tend stick to more heavy-duty, thicker knits. It always feels just slightly off to me to have my undershirt shape show through the sweater, creating awkward ripples.

The thick, cable-knit fabric has a much more expensive feel than something lighter weight in this case.

The balloon sleeves and slouchy fit is so elegant.

While this sweater appears more high-end with the fabric, it gets bonus points for the gorgeous color.

A wrap sweater is not only elevated, but incredibly flattering.

The button accents on this sweater give it a little something extra.


I’m all for a tailored silhouette for an expensive-looking vibe, but I’m not into those super-tight, shorter blazers. A slightly slouchier style that’s a bit longer feels more elevated and modern to me at the moment.

This slouchy check blazer seriously looks like it could be triple the price.

Toss this oversized blazer over anything for a polished vibe.

A camel blazer—especially one with a posh belt detail—will also feel sophisticated.

A check blazer like this one is cool yet refined.

A longline blazer is especially modern and will bring that elevated feel to a look.

Black Booties

In line with what my fellow WWW editor covered recently, I specifically tend to skip basic black boots that feature shiny accents like studs and zippers that are too in your face. A streamlined style (even the under-$50 picks out there) just feels so much more luxe.

Suede will always make shoes feel expensive (even if they're under $100).

It's the fashion-forward kitten-heel and luxe-feeling fabric that makes these booties so elegant.

The taller upper and block heel brings comfort to these stylish boots.

You just can't go wrong with a pair of pointed black ankle boots—always chic.

While suede is expensive-looking, shinier leather (or leather-like styles) is also particularly elevated-feeling.