After 18 months of only shopping online, I've come to the conclusion that a couple of hours browsing in your favourite shops, where you get to see and feel the material of a dress or jacket before making that all-important purchase, pays off. In fact, you're more likely to pick up those extra-special affordable pieces, as they're much easier to spot in the flesh. That said, shopping IRL can feel like an assault course at this time of year when the number of people largely increases as we shop for Christmas presents and endless deals and discounts entice customers into the stores.
What makes it quicker and easier is knowing what to look out for. The British high street is one of the best in the world, but even I still get blown away by just how designer-esque and premium certain pieces can be.
So not only have I done the legwork for you and photographed the best pieces from some of your go-to stores, but I have also shared my top tips on what to look out for when you're shopping. Whether it's feeling for weightier fabrics or knowing what colours to look out for, here are my favourite expensive-looking high-street items you can buy right now.
Buying into faux fur can be tricky, but even the most exclusive designers are replacing the real deal with a more ethical substitute. Simple lines, minimal detail and the delicious shade of butterscotch are what set this coat apart from the many alternatives available on the high street.
Often using a stiff and voluminous fabric, COS is able to create the kinds of silhouettes we're used to seeing at designers such as Cecilie Bahnsen and Rejina Pyo. Accessorise with your favourite party heels and jewellery—this one will always look good and never date.
There are certain directional colours you will rarely see in affordable stores, and this is one of them. This A-line skirt is in a beautiful, vibrant shade of emerald green, and what makes it feel even more special is the felted woollen fabric. So unique.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about this coat since I first saw it. The brown-and-cream combo instantly gives it a high-end feel, and the tight weave of the faux-shearling fabric makes it super warm and look incredibly polished, too.
The shape of a trench coat works for almost everyone, but normally, the style is lightweight, and you can only wear it during those trans-seasonal months. But this offers plenty of mileage throughout the winter.
This style hasn't yet appeared online, but the other padded trenches below do a very similar job.
There's something about jumbo sequins—or paillettes if we're going to get technical—that always makes them look more expensive than their smaller counterparts. The fact that these pieces are also in silver and feel a little more understated adds value.
What will really set a piece like this apart from the rest is whether it holds its shape as you move and whether there is some volume to it at the back—thinner shackets can look cheap. Buying something like this will instantly elevate a casual everyday outfit.
The high street is awash with black tuxedo jackets this season, but you can see here that the cut of this one is quite something. A strong shoulder, a slim waist, a longer-line cut and elegant lapels make it look a lot more expensive.
It's just gone into sale, so you'll have to be quick to get your hands on this statement piece. I'd recommend wearing it with leggings or slim-fitting jeans underneath, as the volume up top needs balancing out.
The rich raspberry colour of this dress is what caught my eye from a distance, and despite it having minimal hanger appeal, what had me sold was the weighty velvet fabric that was super stretchy and hung nicely over my hips and the really great structured V wire at the front, which provides really good support.