Look Like a Million on a Dime!

Most people feel that to look like a million bucks you have to buy expensive brands and, well, just spend a lot of money!  To be honest, just because someone spends a lot of money on something doesn’t guarantee that they will be perceived as being worth a million bucks.  The bottom line is that wearing quality apparel in classic styles will have everyone thinking you have a rich Uncle! Here are some tips to help you look like a million bucks for pennies on the dollar!

  • If fashion is important to you, look in the various fashion magazines to see what is “in fashion.”  Pick one or two new looks that will update your wardrobe.  Retailers at every level will have some interpretation of this new look.
  • Avoid “designer” labels.  These items have a higher average mark-up than a retailer’s private label merchandise.  Sometimes mark-ups can range from 50 percent to 1,000 percent depending on demand.  For example, jeans are extremely popular and many of your designer brands have mark-ups that can be up to 1,000 percent over cost. Rather shop the retailer’s private label merchandise and you’ll get great fashionable looks, good quality and an affordable price.
  • Understand what makes quality apparel.  It’s not just the label but how it’s made.  For example, do the strips and plaids match up at the side, back and shoulder seams?  As well, check the seam allowance to be sure that they are finished and will not unravel after the first wash.  Make sure the decorative stitching is straight and that the garment hangs straight.  Also make sure that the garment is free from stains or fabric flaws.  If something looks off don’t be the hero it will most likely end up being a poor investment.
  • Wear classic styles that have endured the fashion runways year in and year out.  Classic styles include blazers, A-line skirts, tailor-notched collar shirts, shirtwaist dresses, tailored trousers and trench coats.  Classic looks are always fashion forward and spell money.  Incorporate sweater sets for ease and comfort but a great look for work or play.  Also look to classic patterns such as houndstooth, herringbone, tweed, glen and tartan plaids that have been around forever and communicate affluence.
  • Accessorize with gold, silver or pearl jewelry.  These too are classics yet give sparkle around the face and create an air of affluence.  Avoid rings on every finger or noisy bangles since they are a distraction to what you are trying to create.  Make sure that the jewelry you wear is in proportion to your size.  For example, if you are large you CAN wear large necklaces and earrings whereas the same pieces would overwhelm someone that is 5’1”.
  • Create a wardrobe built around staple colors such as black, navy, olive, brown, charcoal and taupe.  These are considered neutrals and will add miles to an existing wardrobe making it appear you have tons of clothes with only a few pieces.
  • Build your wardrobe without much added expense by including accessories such as scarves, hosiery, belts and vests.  You can change up a look simply by adding a scarf and/or a belt.
  • Wear better quality close to your face as in jackets, tops and scarves.
  • Expand your horizons and include second hand stores such as Goodwill, factory outlets and deep discounters such as Burlington Coat Factory and Marshal’s for bargains.  Second hand stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army and the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shops carry upscale resale where a true bargain can be had.  Manufacturer and designer outlets are also viable options but realize that at those stores they are selling surplus merchandise, seconds and irregulars.
  • Part of looking like a million bucks is making sure that your wardrobe, including your shoes, are in great shape.  Clothing maintenance is ongoing.  Be wary of when colors become dull or fabrics begin to pill (little balls on the surface of the fabric).  Remove stains promptly without taking out the color.  Jeans over time get washed out and need to be replaced as well as white shirts and blouses.
  • Incorporate fabrics that have body such as cotton/poly blends and heavier knits that are opaque.
  • Create a slimmer appearance by wearing darker colors such as navy, burgundy, charcoal and black.
  • When buying online choose reputable retailers that have a history online or in brick and mortar form.  There are lots of web sites out there and some may be counterfeit and you won’t know until you’ve paid and never receive the merchandise. As well, be cautious if you see a great price on designer fragrances and bags, or anything in demand as they may be fakes. The counterfeit industry is huge and some big retailers have been caught with the merchandise too. As they say, if it’s too good to be true it probably is.
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About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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