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How to Dress Like a Million Bucks Without Spending a Fortune

Master the quiet luxury look for less than $100.

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photo collage of different clothing items and accessories to make you look like a million bucks, fashion, clothes, style
Elena Lacey
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The quiet luxury microtrend started buzzing last spring. Squeezed in among fashion distractions dedicated to Barbie, mermaids and prairie looks, quiet luxury was easy to miss. It is, after all, quiet.

But for fall and winter, quiet luxury has moved from the opening act to the main event. Whatever the price point, there is no escaping the neutral color palette, luxe textures, elegant layers and dramatic shapes that define the stealth-wealth vibe. This means dressing like the upper 1 percent doesn’t require an offshore bank account or a secret handshake — just some fashion savvy.

Here’s what you need to know to capture this look of effortless elegance without breaking a sweat or your budget. And if you’re hunting for a gift that looks more expensive than it is, consider it done.

The Influences

Elite brands like New York-based KHAITE, the Olsen twins’ The Row, Sweden’s TOTEME and Italy’s Loro Piana have made relaxed tailoring and luxurious fabrications their calling card for years. Beyond the runway and high-end retailers, you can find examples of this aesthetic in the wardrobes of the Roy clan from the HBO series Succession and the walk-in closet of Jessica Pearson from the record-busting series Suits.

The Color Palette

A clean, classic color palette is at the core of quiet luxury. The nine rich-looking hues to lean into are black, navy, gray, camel, chocolate, olive green, baby pink, ivory and bright white. Based on what’s selling out first this season, camel is a fan favorite.

Rather than mixing, go with matching. Monochromatic dressing, a key element of last summer’s Coastal Grandma trend, makes a return engagement here too. Play with tones within the same color family to sidestep monotony in an outfit.

Dos and Don’ts

Do: Look for ways to create visual interest. Mix textures in knitwear through cables, tweeds and boucles. Ruching and draping add dimension to woven tops and dresses while camouflaging any lumps and bumps. Experiment with the finish of fabrics. For example, pair a satiny shirt with a cashmere vest and pinstriped trousers or sport a cabled sweater atop a satin slip skirt.

Don’t: No matter how prestigious, avoid logos on bags, shoes or belts on the days you rock your quiet luxury ensembles. And skip the prints too. There’s nothing quiet about them.


$50 and under: No matter their shape, styling or fabrication, these knits are inherently luxurious and ready to wrap you in a warm hug of stealth wealth. Thick, Shaker stitching distinguishes the Chunky-Knit Half-Zip Sweater and the mock turtleneck Knit Sweater at H&M ($33-$35, hm.com/us),.

$100 and under: Quiet luxury may be about clean classics, but don’t confuse that with plain. This is a trend of nuance and unique twists. Some are quite literal like the Cello Knit Top with a twist at one shoulder or the Ezlynn Knit Top with a twist and draping across the bust, both at Reformation ($68-$78, thereformation.com). There also are twisting cables on sweaters like Topshop’s Crop Cable Stitch Cardigan ($62, nordstrom.com).

Soft and sumptuous fabrications abound in knitwear. You can find every quiet luxurious shade in Naadam’s long-sleeved Essential $75 Cashmere Sweater ($75, naadam.co). Layer on luxury with sweater vests like the Cashmere Crewneck Sweater Shell at J. Crew ($98, jcrew.com) or the Alpaca V-Neck Vest by Everlane ($49, everlane.com).

Long, lean sweater dresses are another pillar of this aesthetic. Elegant one-and-done styles include H&M’s Merino Wool Turtleneck Dress ($65, hm.com/us) and Charles Henry’s Off the Shoulder Long Sleeve Rib Sweater Dress ($79, nordstrom.com).

$50 and under: Mix luxe-looking separates into your existing wardrobe for an immediate update. Take it from the top with a Satin Classic Shirt ($35, bananarepublicfactory.com) or Satin Effect Shirt in flowy or slim silhouettes ($36-$50, zara.com/us). Next, pull on comfortable, wide-cut pants in classic solids or pinstripes. A search for “wide-leg pants” at H&M delivers ample offerings priced from $35 to $46 (hm.com/us).

$100 and under: Sleek satin returns in the bestselling Gwyneth Slip Skirt and its spinoff, the versatile Gwyneth Slip Dress in Luster Charmeuse ($90-$98, jcrew.com). For a sexy vibe, consider a jacket with a little something extra, like the detailing of the Open Edit Corset Blazer ($45, nordstrom.com) or warm up with the Double Breasted Textured Weave Jacket ($70, zara.com/us).

Wrap it all up with the ultimate separate — a fabulous coat. Layer the Tie Belt Coat ($65-$85, hm.com/us) over an outfit in the same color to create an instant wow factor.

Sculptured Accents

$50 and under: Find sculptural drama at an unexpected price with the Corey Oval Corded Necklace ($10, urbanoutfitters.com) tied atop a sweater or the asymmetric flair of the Irregular Buckle Belt ($21, mango.com) on wide-leg pants.

Gold accessories are a must, and Madewell’s Chunky Square Hoops ($28, nordstrom.com) hit the mark. With their liquid contours, the Petra Mini Drop Earrings and matching pendant necklace ($44-$48, anthropologie.com) are the epitome of sculptural. For something edgier, the Lightweight Sculpted Hoop Earrings ($30, jcrew.com) and Sculptural Wavy Post Earrings ($25, anthropologie.com) both make a statement.

$100 and under: Chunky cuff bracelets had their day in the ‘80s and return this season with sculpted grace. Aureus + Argent’s Modernist Cuff features a hammered finish ($60, bananarepublic.com), while the Sculptural Hinge Bracelet is a rounded expanse of burnished gold ($40, jcrew.com).

When it comes to leather goods, nothing says quiet luxury like a great dupe. A dead ringer for a Bottega Veneta version that costs many times more, J.Crew’s Plaited Italian Leather Belt ($80, jcrew.com) sculpts your figure as it defines your waistline.


$50 and under: Texture and minimalism inspire quiet luxury — even in purses. Ruching elevates the Buckle Shoulder Bag ($20, zara.com/us) while irregular ribs lend dimension to the Textured Knot Handle Bag ($40, mango.com). For something sleeker, strap on the Minimal Flap Shoulder Bag ($40, zara.com/us) or the Padlock Mini Shopper ($50, mango.com).

$100 and under: Restraint and refinement capture the quiet luxury aesthetic in the Lily Shoulder Bag and Joy Shoulder Bag that come in all the right hues ($69-$89, jwpei.com).

With these tips and tricks in mind, you can scour your closet and favorite stores to create elegant outfits that are gorgeous and affordable. Taking pieces you already own and adding in a few new classics you’ll wear for years combines the best of both worlds — fashion and fiscal!

What store do you go to in order to find the best deals? Let us know in the comments below.

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