Mixing high-end designer duds with fast-fashion affordable items is a secret weapon for every fashionista who’s on a budget. Before, you would never imagine pairing your Chanel bag with a $20 dress or thrifted coat, but high-low mixing is really having a moment, and we’re on board. There’s an art when it comes to mixing drastically different price points—how do you make your outfit seem cohesive, styled, and chic when the pieces come from such different backgrounds?
Ahead, check out seven rules to follow when you’re looking to mix high- and low-priced pieces.
Rule 1: Invest in Long-Term
Determine what you want to be your investment pieces. Are they your wardrobe staples such as jeans, a coat, shoes, or a handbag? Whatever you want those staples to be, make sure your investments can get you some long-term mileage. You’ll be wearing these pieces repeatedly, so make sure they’re high-quality, durable, and won’t need to be replaced after a couple of wears.
Rule 2: Don’t Spend on Trends
If you have a hankering for seasonally trending items (think fanny packs, intense embellishments, or baker boy hats), look at a fast-fashion store like H&M, Zara, or Forever21. Don’t invest a ton of money in looks that might feel stale in six months to a year. We suggest that you try out these trends first with a low-cost item, and if you end up liking the trend and wearing it a lot, then invest in a higher quality item. You can mix these trend items with your high-end pieces, and it will be a great aesthetic balance.
Rule 3: Shop Savvy
If you’re looking to invest in a staple item that you’ll be wearing for many seasons to come, shop smart. Buy at the end of the season or off-season. Check designer third-party retail websites like Net-a-Porter and Gilt and resale websites like TheRealReal or Tradesy, and make sure you shop around to find the best deal before taking the plunge. With high-end items, you don’t have to buy only neutral colors or black, you can buy a fun color or something with embellishments, just make sure you can wear it for multiple occasions and truly love it.
Rule 4: Know When to Break the Rules
It’s OK to break the rules. You can mix an expensive dress with cheap trendy shoes, or an expensive coat with mid-tier shoes and a $10 bag—it’s all about mixing and matching items that coordinate and don’t stand out too much on their own and cheapen the entire look.
Rule 5: Seek Expensive
Now, this rule is important when looking at low-price items. Think and seek expensive-looking items. Check the fabrics to make sure they won’t instantly fall apart, pill ,or tear or easily stain. Most fast-fashion stores still offer good-quality items if you look hard enough, so make sure to check everything, and if it looks cheap at first glance, it’ll be even worse when paired with your other clothes later—so skip it.
Rule 6: Make It Your Own
Remember that you’re not tied to the way an item looks when it comes from the store. You can take off the attachable belt, replace cheap plastic buttons, or have an item tailored. The art of making a low-price item your own and more unique includes personalizing it and, if it’s an item you think is worth it, reinvesting in it. It’s all about vision!
Rule 7: No Knock-Offs
Our final and most important rule: no knock-offs. Almost every fast-fashion or mass retailer makes designer dupesof bags, shoes, and more, and you can also buy wannabe designer items online or places like Chinatown. These items stand out and will cheapen your true high-end items. When in doubt, keep things simple, source unique items that can pass as high-end, avoid pieces with visible branded labels, and monochromatic outfits always win.