Can You Tell the Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Pieces?

September 19, 2018

In case you didn’t know, “tacky” things are in and good taste is out. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where I’m now confused about what looks expensive and what looks affordable. From the Pat Butcher–levels of leopard print to the fact that everyone’s swapping traditionally fine-looking jewellery for cutesy plastic beads and bangles, it’s a great time to be on a budget (not to mention a fun time to splash some cash on items that are anything but boring).

Think everything from out-there white shoes (once seen as tacky but now a wardrobe staple) to chunky sneakers even the most eagle-eyed fashion expert could mistake for a Topshop purchase (even if they actually cost you more than a month’s rent). We’re throwing down the A/W 18 gauntlet and asking you to step up to the challenge: Can you really tell what’s expensive and what’s cheap? I won’t judge, and I won’t ask which versions you ended up buying.



Okay, I’ve given you an easy start with this one, as you undoubtedly recognise the Shrimps bag that countless influencers have carried. You can tell from the structured handle and interior (plus the more intricate beadwork) that this costs a pretty penny.

One could argue that the lack of an interior layer here makes the bag look cheaper, but I reckon the chunky glass-looking beads could still pass as being vintage and/or pricey.


From the artfully sculpted heel to the super-skinny slingback silhouette and white interior, no design expense has been spared here. That’s how you know these are more expensive white shoes.

You might be able to tell these are cheaper from the more basic heel and tan interior, but in all honesty, they’re a bloody great pair of elegant white slingbacks. Plus they’re lined in leather, so they’re good quality and won’t destroy your feet.

Real croc bags are few and far between, but the look (in either leather or faux leather) is back en vogue for A/W 18.

The noticeable difference between expensive, designer mock-croc bags and cheaper ones primarily comes down to two things: Firstly, they’ll be real leather. Secondly, they’ll have more attention to detail (like the great pearl-ring clasp and functional double-strap detailing on this Mulberry bag).

When you’re hunting for expensive-looking mock-croc bags, seek out neutral, retro colours like brown and tan. Also, look for buckles and chains that feel a bit vintage. This burnished metal will seem far chicer than a brashy gold or faux silver.


When it comes to the more expensive crystal jewellery pieces, scale and simplicity are everything. These jumbo heart earrings are a total winner for the season’s ’80s outlook.

High-street crystal earrings are by no means bad. In fact, they’re a great way to buy into a frivolous trend. You might find they don’t withstand a particularly furious night on the dance floor, but maybe that’s just my particular brand of enthusiastic shape-pulling.


A classy silhouette, matte finish and careful print placement make this look all the more sophisticated.

The fabric is definitely more lightweight, but thanks to the subtle colourway, this still totally gets away with looking expensive.


Admittedly, the artful curation of beads and the cooler-than-cool choker style of this necklace does set it apart from cheaper options.

Plastic jewellery on the high street can veer into “art teacher” territory, but wearing a jazzy piece with something plain will make you look 100% cooler.


This is the sneaker style that’s launched a thousand imitations. Regardless of how you feel about Balenciaga’s Triple S shoes, they’ve been truly influential and have a great deal of attention to detail in terms of colours, fabrics, pattern cutting and finish.

High-street versions cannot compete with the quality of designer sneakers (pricey ones are usually much more detailed), but if you’re on a budget and into the look, at least there are options out there.


The sheer amount of fabric in this swishy skirt instantly makes you realise it’s probably more expensive.

Still pretty darn good, I’d say.


Intarsia knits (the ones that have patterns knitted into them, not embroidered on top) are really quite tricky to manufacture. So this complex Prada creation is worth every penny.

This has a combination of intarsia stripes and an embroidered logo, so it’s a pretty good middle ground for affordable, trendy knitwear.

Next up, your autumn/winter 2018 trend guide.


Source: whowhatwear