The idea of spending as little as possible to look as expensive as possible is not new. Savvy women have been faking it forever by shopping for designer duds and accessories on sale. However, the “quiet luxury” trend has everyone from mass market retailers to fast-fashion sites opting for a rich look without the boastful logos and initial-plastered prints of the past. Here’s how to get cashmere posh on a cotton budget with six buys that elevate everything you wear:
1. A tailored coat in a sophisticated color
The structure, sharp shoulders, notched lapels and sleek lines of a topcoat level up whatever lies beneath — from the most casual jeans and tees to a flowing midi dress. Yes, it’s fancier than a parka, but think of a structured topcoat as a heavier, more extended blazer that’s roomy enough for layers. It’s your priciest low-cost buy on this list (more upscale versions run anywhere from $500 to $900), but if you love updated classics, have reasons to dress up (work, job interviews and evenings out), a tailored wool coat is a chic investment. Choose a streamlined style (stay away from too many yokes, buttons, pockets, epaulets that clutter the impact) and a length that makes sense for you — knee or midi. Lower-priced coats in neutral colors with a relaxed fit such as the double-breasted Mango Handmade Oversized Wool Coat in Medium Brown, Light/Pastel Gray or Khaki ($230, mango.com/us), the one-button Uniqlo Women Double Face Long Coat in 32 Beige or 30 Natural ($150, uniqlo.com/us) and the raglan-sleeved H&M Double-Breasted Coat in Dark Gray ($99, hm.com/en_us) are actually more wearable than pricier coats, which tend to be overly structured. They send a moneyed message that’s contemporary and right on target. You won’t regret it.
2. A leather skirt
Posh personified! While versions in real leather do feel upscale, so do affordable faux leather styles … if you opt for the right fit and length. Avoid those with thigh-high slits, super-clingy pencil-style skirt and minis (all ooze the wrong kind of sultriness), and stick to brown or black in longer lengths — from knee-grazing to midi. The new “vegan” styles have a big-ticket vibe that will please your credit card and an eco-friendly attitude. The only choice to make is between a straight pencil style with pockets such as the Nikasha Faux Leather Cutwork Midi Skirt in Brown ($190, anthropologie.com) or the New York & Company A-Line Midi Skirt in Caramel Brown ($39, nyandcompany.com) or a sleek fit and flare A-line version such as the NYDJ Faux Leather A Line Skirt in Black ($89, bloomingdales.com) with a flat-front silhouette. A tip from fashion editor/wardrobe consultant me: Faux leather skirts are easier to wear than leather pants for those who have been on the fence about the latter.