A stylist shares 5 pieces you should invest in and 5 you should buy for cheap

A stylist shares 5 pieces you should invest in and 5 you should buy for cheap
  • As a stylist, I think some clothing items are worth the splurge and others can be bought cheap.

  • Invest in quality shoes, cashmere sweaters, and a great handbag to upgrade almost any outfit.

  • According to the stylist, trendy pieces and T-shirts might not be worth the splurge.

One of the most powerful style lessons I learned was from a former boss who wore Chanel the same way I grabbed a pair of flip-flops before heading out the door.

On one occasion, I assumed she was wearing her usual Armani suit when she mentioned her blazer was from Victoria's Secret. My mind was blown. My boss, who shops on the Saks luxury floor like I shop at Target, is wearing a Victoria's Secret blazer?

According to her, if you wear a budget-friendly piece with really nice accessories, like an Hermes scarf, people just assume it's high quality. Now, as a professional stylist, I use this concept all the time. To stretch a client's budget, I'll invest in an incredible statement piece and save on other aspects of the outfit.

To be a smart shopper on a budget, here are the best pieces to invest in and where to save your money.

Jeans are a great investment.

Woman wearing two-toned jeans
Invest in a pair of jeans you feel good in.Creative Lab/Shutterstock

Jeans are the first place I encourage clients to upgrade. Once you experience a flattering cut, unique washes, and exceptional denim quality with a perfect amount of stretch, it's hard to go back (especially when you see how good your backside looks).

To ease sticker shock, consider how often you wear jeans. Divide the price by the estimated number of wears over a few years, and it'll likely end up costing you pennies per wear.

Beautifully crafted shoes can last decades.

Man wearing brown leather shoes
Leather shoes can last for years.AmbientShoot/Shutterstock

Think of shoes like their the finishing touches on a house. If someone taped a "Goodfellas" poster on the wall of their well-decorated living room instead of a piece of artwork, no one would notice how beautiful the furnishings are.

Well-crafted, comfortable shoes can upgrade any outfit. They can last for years and your future self will thank you when you hit the dance floor, looking incredible, still wearing your gorgeous shoes.

I recommend watching The Real Real for the highest quality shoes at affordable prices. I recently found a client Jimmy Choo evening shoes in excellent condition for less than $100.


Handbags are a must-have accessory.

A man in a black shirt with a black bag
A good handbag complements an outfit.Misha Feriukov/Shutterstock

A fantastic purse does not necessarily have to be an expensive "it" bag. However, spending more on a quality bag will elevate the look of your entire outfit and will likely remain in excellent shape.

Look for strong stitching and durable materials like leather. Avoid anything that looks plastic, appears to be glued together, or has stray threads around the stitching.

Well-made sweaters are an outfit maker.

A woman wears a green sweater
Some sweaters have a luxurious fabric.Creative Lab/Shutterstock

A sweater made from natural materials like cashmere, wool, and cotton will keep you warm and can even be an outfit maker.

When you are willing to spend a little more, you can find sweaters with unique details such as statement sleeves, interesting necklines, and eye-catching colors.

Sweater fabrications with more than 30% acrylic might look cute, but they are likely to pill and deteriorate faster.

Be sure to get a solid, warm coat.

A woman wears a hot-pink coat
A well-made coat will be useful during the winter.andersphoto/Shutterstock

Would you send a friend or loved one out in the cold with a light coat, convincing them it will all be fine? Stop doing this to yourself and invest in a coat that will actually keep you warm.

To add an instant style extra, pick a color other than black. You'll always be able to find your coat on any clothing rack.

On the other hand, basic T-shirts aren't worth the splurge.

Man wearing white T-shirt
Basic T-shirts look similar, no matter how much they

Sharon Stone famously wore a Gap T-shirt with her Armani coat to the 1996 Oscars. If a basic tee is good enough for a best-actress nominee on Oscar night, it's good enough for you.

There are really nice T-shirts out there but if you're looking for a place to save, a basic tee from Target, Old Navy, or Gap can be a fantastic closet workhorse.

Don't overpay for layering pieces.

A woman in red pants, a cami, a shirt, and a cardigan
Camisoles and tanks can be bought cheaply.Anna Zhuk/Shutterstock

No one is going to notice the camisole or tank top underneath another garment, so there's no need to spend more. As long as it's comfortable and has enough length to tuck in, buy it.

Sundresses from budget-friendly retailers are a go.

Woman wearing white sundress in a field
Sundresses, cheap or expensive, look flowy and elegant.Wirestock/Getty Images

Generally, cheap summer clothing looks a lot better than cheap winter clothing. If you spot a cute dress at Target or TJ Maxx, buy it.

Throw it on with your nicer shoes and bag and people will ask you if it's some expensive brand. Just nod along and say yes.

It's hard to tell if black office pants are expensive.

A woman in a black suit
Black office pants are a great budget buy.Creative Lab/Shutterstock

Though there are beautiful, well-cut black pants out there, you really can find them anywhere.

Wear a basic pair with your nice coat or sweater, and no one will know they are a budget buy.

Don't splurge on trendy pieces.

Two people wearing colorful sneakers and mixed prints
It's not worth spending hundreds of dollars on clothes that won't stay in style.Creative Lab/Shutterstock

It's fun to try out a TikTok trend or embrace a new style, but be aware it's a very limited time before that trendy piece becomes a firm out on a fashion in-or-out list.

Before you spend $550 on a Balenciaga baby tee, show off your best Y2K-style self with an $18 Everlane version instead.

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