There is nothing I love more than finding an item of clothing or accessory that looks pricer than it really is. I like to think of my ability to spot these pieces very easily as a bit of a superpower. Rather helpfully, the high street is nailing it right now when it comes to affordable but expensive-looking accessories. Three stores in particular—COS, Mango and Arket—all stock totes, clutches and crossbody bags that look way more expensive than their prices. I'd argue they even look designer. In some cases, I bet plenty would say the bags come from places such as The Row or Bottega Veneta. These are bold claims, but I honestly believe that the high street has never been better for great affordable bags.
Over the years, I've honed down my criteria for this specific type of bag. Generally speaking, the item should be devoid of embellishments. A smooth, clean silhouette is ideal for making something look elevated. Next up on the luxe-looking list? The piece should look structured or, at least, loosely so. When it comes to bags, this means a decent strap, a solid clasp, or some pleated detail that gives the tote some shape.
Finally, one major aspect that gives off an expensive aesthetic is the material. Faux leather has never looked less faux, and leather bags will always have a more luxe vibe, as does woven material. As for colour, black, ecru and brown are always clear winners, but don't be put off by bright hues—although, try more muted versions for that rich appearance. To prove my point, I've created an edit of the chicest but most affordable bags I've seen recently. Keep scrolling for more.