Things that make your clothes look cheap

things that make your clothes look cheap

Top: Dorothy Perkins

As a big fan of high-street shopping, I’ve always argued that cheap clothes don’t necessarily have to LOOK cheap. I have plenty of low-cost items of clothing, for instance, which have lasted for years and get tons of compliments, and I know that, if you’re careful about what you buy, it can be pretty easy to make high street look designer.

Some things, however, will just ALWAYS look cheap, no matter how you style them: here are some things that I think make clothes look instantly cheaper…


You know when a dress or top comes with it’s own belt? That might seem like you’re getting a good deal (Two items for the price of one, right?), but that’s not always the case: all too often, the “free” belt will be made of a cheap, low-quality fabric, which will make the item its attached to look cheaper than it needs to. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, though: often just switching the belt for a better quality one will make all the difference.


I’ve never understood why some retailers want to permanently attach things like necklaces, brooches or corsages to their tops. I’m sure most of us know how to sling on a necklace if we really want to, after all, and, as with the belts, those cheap chains often LOOK cheap. I personally prefer to avoid this kind of thing altogether, but if you really like the top underneath, and can carefully unpick the stitching on whatever it is that’s attached to it, you might just be able to salvage it.


This is possibly just a personal preference, but I always think it’s difficult to make neon shades look expensive. For some reason, they often seem to appear on chiffon – which is another fabric which can really easily look cheap, but even when their not, the colour will make something that’s already cheap look even more so. If you’re trying to make something look more expensive, choosing darker, more neutral colours is generally a safer bet.


Again, it might just be personal taste, but cheap lace looks scratchy and stiff, whereas expensive lace looks soft and …well, expensive, really. It’s very hard to fake good lacework, so if you love the look of it, this is one to invest in, rather than buying on a budget.


The more embellishments (things like sequins, crystals, and anything else sewn on to the fabric) you add to a garment, the greater the chance of loose threads, or badly-sewn embellishments which just end up falling off. Heavy embellishment is painstaking work, which is often done by hand on better quality items, and scrimped on with cheaper ones: the difference is often very easy to see, so if you like the embellished look, pay close attention to the quality of the work.


Sometimes visible seams are a design choice, and the garment is supposed to look like that. Other times, however, they’re a sign of a budget-driven manufacturing process, which lacks attention to detail, and opts for the quickest and easiest way to make clothing, rather than the best way. Visible seams can look fine if they’re properly finished, but if they’re not, they’ll really cheapen the look: things like hidden seams and covered zips, on the other hand, are generally a sign of better quality – and it shows.

Anything else you’d like to add to this list? 


  • I’d say that fabric quality can also be a giveaway – cheap see-through fabric that displays your underwear (unwillingly) can bring a look down too.

  • Anything that ends up with different length seams after a few washes. I hate realising that a lovely skirt I bought looks longer on one side than the other. It always looks cheap and encourages me to bend in odd directions in an attempt to rectify it. It never works.

  • Loud prints or prints that have been used over and over throughout the years, e.g., paisley, large animal heads, etc. And, why, designers, are tops for large women made from large prints, horizontal stripes and cheap fabrics?

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