The British High Street is a treasure trove for everything from affordable leather handbags to stylish footwear and catwalk-inspired outerwear to statement dresses, all minus a designer price tag. And whilst shopping online may be the most hassle-free way to update your wardrobe, when it comes to finding those extra-special, premium-looking pieces, it's much easier to head to the shops and search for these gems in the flesh.
At this time of year, shopping IRL can feel like an assault course, especially as plenty of us make those last-minute Christmas gift dashes. So, not only have I done the legwork for you and tried on the best pieces from some of our go-to high-street brands, but I have also shared my top tips on what to look out for when you're shopping for affordable yet premium-looking hits. From a faux-shearling jacket to knee-high boots, and a puffer jacket to a mini skirt, here are my favourite expensive-looking high-street items to consider adding to your wardrobe.
1. ZARA'S BLACK BLAZER
Style Notes: You'll find many iterations of a classic black blazer on the high street, but this Zara one from their Limited Edition collection, with slight A-line shape and swing back, is giving all the designer feels but with a more palatable price tag.
Style Notes: It is slightly higher priced for Zara, but they have invested in everything from the fabric to the cut.
2. COS'S LEATHER CROSS-BODY BAG
Style Notes: It's not easy finding real leather handbags on the high street anymore, but COS is definitely my go-to for designer-looking bags under £100. Inspired by minimalist designers like The Row, I love the clean lines, lack of branding and hardware on this style. It looks great worn over your favourite puffer jacket or even over more tailored coats.
Style Notes: This handbag was first released in black and sold out almost instantly. It is now available in dark brown and tan leather, but I suspect it won't hang around for long.
3. MANGO'S FAUX-FUR SHEARLING
Style Notes: Buying into faux shearling can be tricky, but even the most exclusive designers are replacing the real deal with a more ethical substitute. The smooth finish, minimal detail, and the pale shade of chocolate brown are what set this jacket apart from the many alternatives available on the high street.
Style Notes: Normally faux shearling can be quite lightweight and loses its shape when you apply pressure but the lapels on this jacket were nice and weighty.
4. H&M'S GOING OUT TOP
Style Notes: A great top and trousers combo is one of the most popular going out looks for this party season and beyond, so I was instantly drawn to this bodice top from H&M. The ruched detailing around the bust and sleeves is unusual for H&M and this price point, but I love it.
Style Notes: Top Tip! H&M allow you to filter their website by quality and select Premium Collection which I highly recommend if you're on the hunt for better quality pieces such as cashmere and wool mix jumpers, down-feather puffers and detailed items like this top.
5. & OTHER STORIES' WHITE PADDED JACKET
Style Notes: Stylish puffer jackets continue to be a key focus of many brands this season (which is great for us given the recent cold snap) and there's something incredibly chic about this white version from & Other Stories.
Style Notes: This drawstring waist shape is a particular favourite of mine and I find it works particularly well for me as I have a small waist and wider hips.
6. MARK'S SPENCER'S EMBELLISHED EVENING BAG
Style Notes: Marks & Spencer are known for their more casual pieces such as cashmere jumpers and denim but you may be surprised to learn the brand also create standout pieces like this fantastic party bag.
Style Notes: The satin fabric and heavily embellished buckle are pretty impressive for under £30.
7. BERSHKA'S PINSTRIPE COAT
Style Notes: Bershka is known for is more youthful offering within Inditex (its parent group that also own Zara) and if you go into their stores at the wrong time of day it can feel like you've walked into a teen movie from the nineties. But, if you go first thing in the morning and to one of their newer flagship stores, you're guaranteed to find some (grown-up) gems like this pinstripe wool-mix coat.
Style Notes: This coat is a wool and polyester mix, hence the price point but the pinstripe and boxy shape are pretty great. This is definitely going into my basket.
8. MASSIMO DUTTI'S KNEE HIGH BOOTS
Style Notes: I have been hunting for the perfect pair of black knee-high boots since, well, September, but luckily for us the best pair I have found so far is from Massimo Dutti, aka my favourite high street shop this season. They come in at under £200 which even though is still an investment, is much less than other pairs I've tried and I just know the cost-per-wear will make up for it.
Style Notes: When you're investing in a pair of every day boots, they need to tick quite a lot boxes. I love everything about this pair: The square toe, the quality of the leather and most importantly the heel height. They're definitely worth the price tag to me.
9. ARKET'S SILVER LEATHER SKIRT
Style Notes: Silver and gold are a great way to add interest to your winter wardrobe, whether teamed with slouchy knits and boots or with a top and heels for the festive party season. Arket is always the best shopping destination for silver leather. Last season it was all about the brand's silver leather trousers, earlier this month a pair of sell-out silver boots and now it's this mini skirt.
Style Notes: When buying metallics, look for classic shapes like this a-line skirt as they won't date. I'm sure you'll be pulling this mini out of your wardrobe for years to come. It comes up a little small so consider trying a size up if you're between sizes in this store.
10. LK Bennett's mock croc boots
Style Notes: I love to add interest to every day outfits, but comfort is always key, which is why the wearable kitten heel on these statement boots is a huge bonus for me. I will be wearing mine styled under longer midi dresses as well as over black leggings with a belted cardigan.
Style Notes: LK Bennett has long been my go-to for quality footwear without the designer price tag. The brand sits at the higher end of the high street price bracket, but these gold mock-croc boots are worth their salt. The mock-croc leather is incredibly durable and has a really nice stiffness to them. Plus, gold is so versatile, and can be paired with neutrals and bold hues alike.