I Tried On Every Expensive-Looking High-Street Piece—These 11 Stood Out

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.

1. MANGO'S FAUX-FUR COAT

expensive-looking high street pieces: Mango faux fur coat

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

expensive-looking high street pieces: Mango faux fur coat

Photo:

@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

I thought this one looked so premium that it came home with me… a success!

2. H&M'S FRILLY BLOUSE

expensive-looking high street pieces: H&M frilly blouse

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

You'll find many iterations of the classic white shirt on the high street, but this one stopped me in my tracks. 

expensive-looking high street pieces:  H&M frilly blouse

Photo:

@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

The key is to look for designer-level details. Think exaggerated shapes and extra finishing touches, such as the wide bib, the frill detail and the tie at the front.

3. COS'S CLASSIC BLACK DRESS

expensive-looking high street pieces: COS black dress

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

Everyone knows COS nails minimalist wardrobe staples, but you may be surprised to learn the brand also create standout party pieces like this fantastic LBD.

expensive-looking high street pieces: COS black dress

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

4. ZARA'S INCREDIBLE CRAFT COAT

expensive-looking high street pieces: Zara cream coat

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

This is a definite wow piece! The intricate detail of the wool yarn finish is what jumped out for me and is a guaranteed conversation starter when you wear it.

expensive-looking high street pieces: Zara cream coat

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

This timeless '50s-era-swing-coat shape never goes out of style either. Think Prada or Valentino, but without the price tag.

5. ARKET'S GREEN SKIRT

expensive-looking high street pieces: Arket green skirt

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

expensive-looking high street pieces: Arket green skirt

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

I'm not going to lie. The fabric is quite heavy, but the weight, structure and quality are rarely seen off the designer runways, let alone on the high street.

6. & OTHER STORIES' FLUFFY-LINED TRENCH

expensive-looking high street pieces: & Other Stories fleece trench

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

expensive-looking high street pieces: & Other Stories fleece trench

Photo:

@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

7. RIVER ISLAND'S SEQUIN CO-ORD

expensive-looking high street pieces: River Island sequin top and skirt

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

Sequins may seem like a relatively inexpensive way to elevate a look, especially during party season, but they can also be one of the easiest ways to tell if something is designer or not.

expensive-looking high street pieces: River Island sequin top and skirt

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

8. ARKET'S CHECKED SHACKET

expensive-looking high street pieces: Arket checked shacket

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

What really caught my eye with this jacket is the unusual colour combination and quality feel of the fabric.

expensive-looking high street pieces: Arket checked shacket

Photo:

@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

9. RIVER ISLAND'S TUXEDO

expensive-looking high street pieces: River Island tuxedo

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

expensive-looking high street pieces: River Island tuxedo

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

The most crucial elements of a tailored jacket are the fit and silhouette it creates. The structured shoulders, the neat details and subtle A-line shape are what make this a standout piece.

10. H&M'S COSY COAT

expensive-looking high street pieces: H&M shearling coat

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

I was convinced this coat was real shearling! Add in the voluminous sleeves and oversized shape and you have a head-turning coat for under £80.

expensive-looking high street pieces: H&M shearling coat

Photo:

@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

11. ZARA'S HOT-PINK DRESS

expensive-looking high street pieces: Zara pink velvet dress

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@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

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.

expensive-looking high street pieces: Zara pink velvet dress

Photo:

@lilyrussobah / WHO WHAT WEAR

One of my favourite eveningwear designers had a similar style in excess of £1500, so this was quite the find. It doesn't look like much on the hanger, but once you put it on, it's a winner.

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