InStyle’s Fashion Director Cindy Weber Cleary has been a fashion editor for the past 20+ years. Needless to say, she’s picked up some tricks along the way. Catch her column here each week for how-to tips and style secrets on her favorite, timeless styles.
I've never been one of those women who is into major status symbols. I learned my lesson when I splurged on a dress in a very distinctive print. Many of my peers bought the same thing. I felt like I was seeing myself coming and going! I had to retire it after just two seasons.
Instead, I think there are subtle ways you can dress to look like a million bucks (like Robin Wright, Keira Knightley, or Iman who are pictured above). Here a few of my favorite tips to take you from "coach" to "first class" without breaking the bank.
These days it’s hard to tell the difference between real and faux fur just by eyeballing it. A number of top designers have even started embracing the synthetic stuff! You can add a lot of richness with a jacket, vest, coat, or scarf. Colorations that resemble natural colors tend to look more expensive than brights or white, but subtle colors such as burgundy, olive, and grey are chic too. I personally love a vest. In early autumn you can wear it in lieu of a jacket over a dress, blouse, or sweater with sleeves. The cozy texture adds instant visual interest. When the weather gets colder, you can layer it under a light-weight coat or jacket. You’ll stay warm and get more mileage out of your transitional outerwear. Bingo!
Brocade is a rich fabric, often silk, with a raised all-over pattern and it usually has metallic threads. Originally worn by wealthy noble-born men and women, it still carries a connotation of affluence. Today, not all brocade is expensive. I love mixing an element of it with more casual fabrics—for example, a brocade pant with a chunky sweater or a brocade top with jeans. A brocade shoe can elevate a simple trouser or skirt.
Personally, I love a tuxedo for formal occasions—it’s a worthwhile investment!—but you can also break it up and get a lot more wear out of it by thinking of the jacket and pant as separates. You can also buy the pieces separately if you aren't sure about the head-to-toe look. A tuxedo jacket can be worn with a leather skirt, jeans, and a flowy dress for day or day-to-evening. A tuxedo pant with a side stripe of grosgrain or satin can be dressed down by pairing it with everything from a cotton t-shirt to a cashmere sweater to a leather top. And, let’s not forget a white pleat front tuxedo shirt. I love the way it dresses up a full skirt, a slim pant, or faded jeans. Roll up the sleeves for daytime or let the cuffs hang undone.
The best part about adding luxe details to your look is that they mix and match easily with pieces you already have in your wardrobe. The key is mixing fancier fabrics with basics like chunky sweaters, jeans, and blouses for an effortless look.