8 Tricks to Elevate Your Style On a Budget

  1. Streamline and simplify your wardrobe.  Before leaving the house, ask yourself, “How can I make this look sleeker?”

2. Keep fabric in mind: Tweed, cotton and linen often look expensive.

3. Pull a Kate Middleton and select jewel-toned color palettes.

4. Purchase pieces with clean lines. This tip especially pertains to scarves; avoid fabrics that end with fringes.

5. Opt for a simple, black bag without any embellishment.

6. Wear glass or real pearls for necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

7. Low-priced heels look more polished in faux suede than faux leather.

8. Buy smooth undergarments to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions or awkward underclothe lines. This will also help your clothes flow nicely. 

Bonus Tip: Replace coat and jacket buttons to achieve an expensive look. Select buttons that appear gold, ivory or glossy.

Favorite Style Articles

10 Dress Code Rules Everyone in the Royal Family Must Follow, Reader’s Digest

11 Style Tips for the Girl on a Shoestring Budget, Who What Wear

7 Ways to Make Audrey Hepburn Your Fashion Style Icon on a Budget, Money Crashers

16 Style Lessons to Learn from Jackie Kennedy, InStyle

A Woman’s Ideal Wardrobe, According to Coco Chanel, Who What Wear

Recommending Reading

  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

2. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

3. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

4. Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?

In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. “A fascinating look at the disease that . . . could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life” (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.

5. Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio

Since Descartes famously proclaimed, “I think, therefore I am,” science has often overlooked emotions as the source of a person’s true being. Even modern neuroscience has tended, until recently, to concentrate on the cognitive aspects of brain function, disregarding emotions. This attitude began to change with the publication of Descartes’ Error in 1995. Antonio Damasio—”one of the world’s leading neurologists” (The New York Times)—challenged traditional ideas about the connection between emotions and rationality. In this wondrously engaging book, Damasio takes the reader on a journey of scientific discovery through a series of case studies, demonstrating what many of us have long suspected: emotions are not a luxury, they are essential to rational thinking and to normal social behavior.

Projecting Elegance and Grace

When I think of polished women, a few people automatically come to mind: Julie Andrews, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelley, Toni Morrison and Ivanka Trump. What do these women have in common? They exude confidence, classic style and social etiquette regardless of the situation or environment.


  • Stay straight and tall – Practice your posture by pulling the shoulders back and holding your head high. One of my yoga instructors regularly practices an exercise where we pretend to be attached by strings that pull us up like puppets. This exercise is quirky, yet very effective.
  • Smile often – Smiling is equated to happiness, a sign that people are approachable and comfortable in their own skin.
  • Stride with purpose – Circa 2007, my dad shared a piece of advice before a junior high dance that still sticks with me today. “Imagine yourself as a ballerina. Take long, slow and exaggerated steps. Roll your feet. Heel to toe. Heel to toe.”
  • Speak slowly with pauses – Allow your voice to draw out with a weighty rhythm. This provides time for your listeners to digest the message, and you’ll also sound more deliberate with your words.

Classic Style

  • Simple is best – Look clean with simple colors, simple hair, simple makeup and simple accessories. Keep statement pieces to one per outfit.
  • Be perfectly pressed – Always iron or steam your clothes the night before. A pressed collar can be a mark of distinction. The last word you want as a description is frumpy.
  • Invest in timeless clothes -Look back at old photographs and observe the pieces that look like they could be worn today. Keep these in your closet! Be minimalistic with trends, because they are the most likely to fall out of fashion the quickest. 
  • Groom and glow – Use a fine-tooth comb to create a straight, sleek part in your hair. Moisturize your skin, keep your fingernails clean, floss your teeth, be cleanly shaven, etc. The details matter.

Social Etiquette

  • Speak well – Practice the basics of proper language, use the words “please” and “thank you,” and avoid colloquialisms. (Hey! Yeah. What’s up? Nope.)
  • Be considerate with space – Always leave a place better than how it looked when you arrived.
  • Always arrive on time – Punctuality. This shows respect for the other person.
  • Freely give and receive kindness – Start by going out of your way once a day to make someone’s workload a little lighter… without any expectations of return or gratitude. 
  • Refrain from gossip – If someone is angry, refuse to join the rants or complaints.
  • Be informed – Read, watch or listen to the news. Aside from daily interactions, this is a smart way to stay connected with others while also broadening your perspectives and insights.
  • Observe others – Watch how polished people demonstrate etiquette and adopt their characteristics.