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mixing high-end and budget pieces for the perfect casual outfit

June 5, 2023

Looking like a million bucks doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Building a wardrobe that has quality and versatile high-end pieces mixed with trendier budget items can result in a style all your own. Finding the perfect casual outfit couldn’t be easier.

Combining high-end and budget items has been trending, and inspiration is everywhere. 

Celebrities and influencers are known to mix high-end luxury pieces with more accessible budget items to create stylish looks. Using the same techniques can also help you look your best and have people asking where you got such a great look!

Incorporating high-end pieces in an outfit anchors your perfect casual look with quality and sophistication. Mixing these with carefully chosen budget pieces allows you to keep up with the latest trends. Combining a range of items creates a unique style that can be mixed and matched for endless looks.

Let’s explore the difference between high-end and budget pieces, what are the pros and cons of investing in higher-end items, and how to mix and match for maximum style.

understanding high-end and budget pieces

What’s the difference between high-end and budget?

High-end: This doesn’t necessarily mean luxury, but some brands position themselves as high-end or luxury, even if their products aren’t necessarily quality.

Knowing some basics about fabric and construction will help you discern which pieces are high-end in their quality. Fabrics like cashmere, wool, and silk look expensive, can be easy to care for, and will last for many years.

Checking the construction of a garment is another way to know if an item is high-end, including the lining of jackets and skirts, finished hems, patterns aligned, and no loose threads.

Budget: It’s easy to find budget pieces these days, as many brands are producing runway-inspired garments at much cheaper prices.

Oftentimes these pieces are made from synthetic fabrics like polyester that are cheaper and may not wear as well as the higher-end fabrics. Budget items often do not launder well, and you’ll end up not being able to wear them for nearly as long as higher-quality items.

pros and cons of investing in high-end pieces

Pros: Investing in high-end pieces can be great if they’re items that you love because they’ll last for many years, and you’ll enjoy wearing them with a variety of outfits and occasions.

Cons: If you end up not loving your purchase, an expensive item will sit in your closet. You also risk investing in a high-end piece that could be damaged and will cost more to replace.

finding quality budget pieces

It’s possible to find quality pieces in lower price ranges. Just like with higher-end apparel, be aware of fabric and construction. If the fabric is thin and already fraying or pilling, it’s not a sign of a quality garment. Thrift stores and consignment shops can be great ways to find luxury and high-end brands at a fraction of the price, and many of these are now online.

Deciding on color choices for budget pieces is also important. Purchasing cheaper clothing in darker colors can make them look more expensive. It could also be the case that this year’s hot pink blazer is something you’re willing to spend less on since it’s a seasonal trend.

tips for mixing high-end and budget pieces

how to choose the right combination of pieces

Below are some helpful tips for finding the combination of high-end and budget pieces that work for you:

  • Work with a Stylist. Stylists, like the ones at cabi, can really get to know you and help guide you to what pieces are worth the investment and which ones you can get by with a lower price point. A Stylist will analyze your body type and determine which color palette makes you feel the most confident.
  • Look at your lifestyle. Are you wearing a suit to the office every day? Dropping the kids off at school? Do you live in sunny Florida or snowy Minnesota? Identifying what your needs are will help you decide if it’s worth investing in that expensive parka or briefcase.
  • Find what you love. It doesn’t matter if something is high-end or lower budget if you always reach for it in your closet and it makes you feel great wearing it.

balance and proportion

Like any great outfit, finding the right balance of high-end and budget pieces is important. They should accent each other so that no one item stands out.

Getting the right proportion is intuitive and comes with practice. The “rule of thirds” in fashion elevates outfits, which is based on the golden ratio. For example, a top that’s tucked in would be one-third and the bottom would be the other two-thirds. If the shirt was not tucked in, it may create a visual line that divides your look in half.

Balance and proportion are not related to what size you are, but in fact, relate to how well an item of clothing or an outfit highlights your best features. A Stylist can help guide you toward pieces that make you feel and look fantastic.

creating a cohesive look

Finding the right high-end and budget pieces for your closet can take time, but eventually, you’ll find yourself able to mix and match to create great outfits. Creating a cohesive look requires finding the correct balance, but once you have some practice, you won’t even need to think twice.

examples of high-end and budget pieces that work well together

There are plenty of examples of high-end and budget combinations from celebrities for inspiration, including Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, who regularly wear designer pieces and affordable mainstream fashion. Celebrities’ and influencers’ looks can be found on social media. Looking at how they’re styling high-end and budget pieces, there are some simple ways to incorporate them together.

For a perfect casual look, it can be nice to start with a “uniform,” for example, jeans and a T-shirt or a basic shift dress that can be mixed and matched with fun accessories, shoes, and jackets. The outfits you can create are endless, depending on your mood, where you are going, and even the weather.

how to incorporate accessories to tie the look together

The outfits shown above look pulled together because of their balance and use of accessories. Accessories like purses, jewelry, hats, and shoes can be great investment pieces. Classic styles and colors can anchor a variety of outfits. Higher-end accessories can also make budget pieces look more sophisticated. Investing in high-end accessories can be beneficial since you’re able to wear them frequently.

tips for mixing and matching different styles and textures

Outfits that include different textures create more depth and balance to an outfit. Especially with a monochromatic look, mixing and matching different textures elevates an outfit. Incorporating accessories with different textures, like a raffia bag or velvet shoes, will enhance the interest of your outfit.

You can also create a sophisticated effect by mixing different styles, like a blazer over a matching athleisure set or a leather moto jacket over a sleek sheath dress. Using lower-budget items that are trending can also be effective ways to mix styles.

making the most of your wardrobe

create multiple outfits using the same pieces

When shopping, it’s a good rule of thumb to ask yourself if you can incorporate a new piece into at least three outfits with your current wardrobe. Especially when considering high-end pieces, you wouldn’t want to end up with a garment that doesn’t go with anything in your closet and you end up not wearing it.

If you are considering investing in some higher-end pieces, you may want to think about classics that you can wear often and for many seasons that will never go out of style. This may include a classic trench coat, black pumps, or a quality leather tote bag. These types of items can be mixed and matched and elevate trendier, more budget-friendly clothing.

how to mix and match high-end and budget pieces to create new looks

update your wardrobe without breaking the bank

Once you have staples in your closet, it’s easy to update your wardrobe with today’s trends. Think colorful blazers for spring paired with a classic pair of jeans and a white T-shirt and elevated with a great pair of shoes and a handbag.

The Stylists at cabi can help you find pieces you’ll be able to mix and match for many seasons that pair well with higher-end and budget items alike.

share your results!

Finding your perfect casual outfit mixing high-end and budget pieces can be easy. Identify what types of high-end pieces make sense for your budget and lifestyle. If you’re looking for advice, a Stylist can help you determine what makes you look your best and help you come up with new styling ideas.

Remembering some simple tips can help you achieve great looks. Combining styles and textures can add drama and depth to your outfits. Accessories add polish and make an outfit look finished. Once you’ve got the hang of finding balance and proportion in your looks, the combination of outfits can be endless.

Try out these tips and tag #cabicute on social media to share what you come up with!