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10 Tips for Choosing Cheap Clothes That Don’t Look Cheap

Updated on April 17, 2011
Shopping for cheap clothes is even more fun when they look more expensive than they are.
Shopping for cheap clothes is even more fun when they look more expensive than they are. | Source

I love stores like Forever 21 as much as the next girl. What’s not to love about putting together an awesome outfit for less than 30 bucks? Not all cheap clothes are created equal, however. Here are some things to look out for and avoid to make sure you remain the only person that knows about that bargain you got.

1. Cheap-looking buttons

If the article of clothing you are looking at has buttons, examine them and ask yourself how nice they really are. For example: gold-painted plastic buttons with some wannabe-fancy design will definitely make your outfit look cheap.

2. Fake button plackets, pockets, etc.

There are certainly exceptions to this guideline, but be aware that buttons that are just sewn to the fabric instead of being used in combination with a buttonhole have the potential to look cheap. Use your judgment here. Fake pockets can also be a faux pas, but when done right they can enhance your look by eliminating the bulge of an actual pocket.

3. The tacky belt

Belts are great accessories, but as awesome as it would be to get a dress and a matching belt at the same time for one great price, these belts are often not of great quality. Keep in mind that you may still need to specifically pick out a cheap belt that doesn’t look cheap instead of wearing the flimsy plastic-leather belt that comes with that dress.

4. The back seam

Ever notice how some shirts and dresses have a seam on the back that goes down the middle? I’m not sure why this would be easier than just cutting out one piece of fabric, but a lot of cheap clothes manufacturers like to use this technique. I’ve sworn off buying clothes that have a back-seam because I feel it makes things look instantly cheap.

5. No design on the back

Another favorite tactic of cheap clothing manufacturers is to create a cute shirt-front and attach it to a solid-color back. Apparently they think that maybe the back doesn’t matter because you can’t see the back anyway when you’re wearing it… but unfortunately everyone else can. If that cute sequin design along the border doesn’t even continue onto the back, it’s too cheap for you to wear.

6. Screen-printing

Screen-printing is when the design of the fabric is printed on top of the fabric and feels kind of plastic-y. This is acceptable and the standard method for printing T-shirts, but on other garments it can be problematic. Cracks can form in the design after a few washes & wears, or sooner if the fabric is stretched at all, and this will make your outfit look cheap.

7. See-through fabric

Unless you’re wearing lace or some other fabric that is meant to be sheer, see-through is a bad sign that the shirt is cheap. You can find more substantial articles of clothing that are still cheap, so why settle?

8. Unfinished hems

Unfinished hems have become more acceptable in recent years, but any article of clothing will look better if the hem is finished. Consider whether or not an unfinished hem takes away from the attractiveness of the garment.

9. Tears, holes, and other defects

It is always a good practice to look over any clothes you are buying for rips or snags in the fabric, stains from perhaps the makeup of someone else that tried it on, or defects in manufacturing. This routine becomes imperative when you’re shopping at clothing stores with cheaper clothes. Check them over once you get home and before you remove the tags, too, in case the security sensor left a hole that you didn’t notice.

10. Poor fit

This probably goes without saying and is easier said than done, but strive to find clothes that fit you well. It’s hard for those of us whose bodies don’t correspond to the standard proportions most clothes seemed to be designed for, but your clothes will always look less cheap if they look like they were made for you.

Once you’ve picked out cheap clothes that make you look like a million bucks, take care of them. If a shirt isn’t dirty after wearing it for 2 hours, consider wearing it one more time before washing it. When you do wash your clothes, hang them to dry and spare them the trauma of the drier. And be honest with yourself when your clothes do begin to show signs of age. Most clothes eventually develop pills or fade, making them look cheap no matter how much you paid for them, signifying that it is time to donate them.


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    • Sirena Sea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sirena Sea 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks, I'm glad! I have to be picky with my clothes or I'd never be able to close my wallet.

    • gramarye profile image


      7 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

      This is well written and interesting - some of these things I had never thought about before.


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