9 Expensive-Looking Autumn Outfits You Can Buy on a Lean Budget

Damn right I'd like a Max Mara coat, some Paris Texas knee-high boots, a printed dress from Prada and that new Bottega Veneta clutch this season, but in reality, my autumn shopping budget doesn't look like it'll stretch that much. I'll always advocate saving up for a dream investment piece (and any of the above suggestions last year after year, no matter the trends), but the same kind of thinking can also be applied to high street or more affordable fashions when you want to upgrade and breathe new life into your existing wardrobe.

So if you're looking for a little autumn/winter 2021 vibe, rest assured you don't have to spend a fortune, but you should still spend wisely. Try to seek out pieces that feel like they'll work with what you already have nestled away in the depths of your closet. (If in doubt, go home and try items on with at least three other outfits to see if your purchase is versatile enough.) Don't buy something so niche and specific that it requires a full outfit build around it. Why? Because you'll end up putting down more cash than you'd intended to, and you could've just bought something special and luxe instead.

One of the best ways to make sensible purchases that go the distance is to keep things relatively pared-back. Or you could just follow my guidance on the kind of items that can look expensive even on a lean budget… I've pulled together some example ensembles you can craft without denting your credit card this autumn. Keep scrolling to see and shop them.

1. BLAZER + JEANS + HEELS

Affordable autumn outfits: blazer, jeans, white top and strappy sandals

Photo:

@deborarosa

An oldie but a goodie, this season's take on the blazer-and-jeans formula involves a skintight top, gold jewellery and strappy heels.

2. KNITTED DRESS + SNEAKERS

A slightly weighty—not too thin and not too clingy—knitted dress always looks effortless (so effortless that it goes nicely with trainers). Easy peasy.

Affordable autumn outfits: tonal silk shirt with white trousers and heels

Photo:

@ada_oguntodu

In general, if you pick a family of colours and wear them head to toe, you're going to look slick. This is especially true for shades of white, beige and cream. Oh, and a jolt of matte red lipstick will never do you wrong in this instance.

4. TROUSER SUIT + HEELS

A trouser suit never fails and will always look premium in a more neutral hue like grey, khaki or tan. This could look just as good styled with flats, sneaks or boots.

When looking for an LBD you can wear all winter long, try to pick something that has a talking point, like the volume in the skirt and sleeves of this Zara one. You can then accessorise as wildly or as calmly as you want.

6. BLAZER + PLEATED SKIRT + ANKLE BOOTS

Affordable autumn outfits: beige blazer with pleated midi skirt and sock boots

Photo:

@darjabaranik

It's the pairing of the season. Midi skirts and blazers will proliferate on the streets of fashion week, but it's highly likely you own enough pieces to pull this together already.

7. SECOND-SKIN TOP + LEATHER TROUSERS

affordable autumn outfits: @noore wears a printed mesh second-skin top with a pair of leather trousers

Photo:

@noore

Leather trousers are hot property this season, so why not team them with another 2021 trending buy: the long-sleeve mesh top, just like Noor? Only instead of her sandals, perhaps wear yours with chunky boots to make it more seasonably palatable. 

8. FAUX-FUR JACKET + ROLL-NECK + MIDI SKIRT

affordable autumn outfits: @abimarvel wears a green roll neck top with a matching faux fur jacket

Photo:

@abimarvel

One of the easiest ways to make your outfits look more expensive is to blend and match the colours of the clothing that make up your ensemble. Abi’s ombré green look is nothing short of beautiful. 

affordable autumn outfits: @aimeesong wears a mini skirt with chunky loafers

Photo:

@aimeesong

There’s just something so appealing about the combination of a miniskirt, a chunky knit, and loafers, as demonstrated here by Aimee. Sure, it might be preppy, but this is a look that has stood the test of time since the ’50s, so who are we to argue? 

Next Up: These 10 Microtrends Are Going to Be the Next Big Thing

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated. 

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