Culprit 1: Embellishments
Embroidery, sequins, beading and the like look amazing when they are applied by skilled craftspeople using high-quality materials. However, they are a dead giveaway when mass-produced by machines on a $29.90 blouse. Sure, they usually look deceptively decent in pictures, but when you look at them up close and actually start wearing them, you’d realise that the jewels will fall apart in no time, and nothing looks cheaper than a blouse with missing embellishments.
Focus on simple, unadorned apparel. You don’t have to make the garment do all the styling for you. If you need to accessorise, use your shoes, jewellery or even bags!
Culprit 2: Lace
Handmade lace that are used to make couture gowns and wedding dresses are really intricate and beautiful, so those flimsy machine-churned fast fashion versions will never quite measure up. You might get the occasional gem if you look hard enough, but if your aim is to look luxe when you’ve only spent $49.90, you might have to give this fabric up!
We are all about providing alternatives. If you’d like the same see-through vibe, you can opt for fine mesh. It might not be as feminine as lace, but it will definitely look luxe as it has less detailing.
That being said, I know there are many ladies out there who cannot live without lace, especially the lovely office ladies. In this situation, go for pieces with lace accents, rather than a full-on lace piece. Lace that is delicate and sports a raw uneven hem will look more luxurious than one that has been folded over and sewn down on a fabric.
Culprit 3: Complicated prints
Prints are a great way to add statement-making touches to your outfits. They are usually painstakingly sourced or designed by the designer. With the mass produced fast fashion pieces, it’s highly likely that complicated prints (for example loud colorful florals or abstract motifs) will look cheap and messy.
Stick to the basics. Classic (and classy) stripes, tiny polka dots or simple geometric patterns in high-contrast color combinations (read: black and white) will do the trick. Additional tip: if you want to amp up that luxe factor, don’t go for a full printed piece. Instead, pair a printed bottom with a top in a solid colour, or vice versa.
Culprit 4: Fake stones on jewellery
Coloured plastic stones do not look like rubies or sapphires, they just look like plastic, period. From experience, these shiny faux jewels will plop out of their setting within a couple of wears. Nothing shouts cheap louder than an empty setting with a glob of glue.
I’d really suggest that you steer clear of all these faux jewels when purchasing cheap costume jewellery, at all cost. A luxe looking $19.90 faux jewel ring simply does not exist. Invest in plain plated styles and polish them periodically to prevent the metal from rubbing off onto your skin and literally turning your flesh green. Having said that, if you want really want glam without the high price tag, your best bet would be clear crystals.
Culprit 5: Faux leather bags
Whether it’s due to budgetary constraints or ethical concerns, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing fake leather goods. However, faux leather bags that belong to the lower end of the price spectrum often look tacky and will cheapen your entire look in a second.
Texture is key when it comes to faux leather. Select styles with a pebbled or textured finish, as this looks the most similar to real leather – even the best leather goods have a visible grain. Never ever go for a perfectly smooth surface; nothing gives away faux leather faster than that!