Monday, July 13, 2015

Tips for Scoring Expensive Looking Accessories on the Cheap

Eddie Borgo for Target white marble clutch, tassel charm, and pyramid charm

When I was younger, I used to play a game while at the grocery store with my parents. I would look at all the handbags on women and figure out if they were designer or knock offs. I was able to do this at middle school age and can still tell you if a bag is real or not. I've always had a knack for picking up the most expensive, luxurious item on a table or rack. That being said, I can spot expensive looking pieces even in the cheapest of stores.

This is a gift, people. (or a curse if you are married to me)

I love to receive compliments on pieces only to tell people that I grabbed something at Target or Forever 21. I've started to hone in on what I look for when selecting pieces at low end stores and I've compiled them for you here!

The key for me is to purchase items that read as "rich" without leaving me broke, so I'm going to use that term a lot when providing my tips below followed by a shopping guide of my under $150 accessory picks!

  • When purchasing jewelry or pieces with hardware, opt for traditional metal coloring with gold as your #1 pick. Gold inherently looks richer and heavier and is easier to fake than silver and other metal finishes.
  • When purchasing leather (or faux leather products) lean towards darker finishes. Black and darker tones tend to wear better and are easier to fake. I almost never purchase light colored leather and when I do, it must be real or from a reliable source. Light colored leather, real or faux, can easily be dirtied and stained, especially if you are a fan of dark denim which tends to bleed color onto accessories. 
  • If you are going to purchase anything in faux patent leather, be sure to inspect the item for scratches or dull spots. Also be sure that there are no glue spots or smudges. I would definitely stick to only black patent leather and I would follow this guide for keeping it impeccably clean and shiny. 
  • When buying jackets and bags, look for structure over slouch. It's much easier to fake quality when great structure is present. Slouchy silhouettes really shine in luxe, fluid fabrics which tend to be more expensive. 
  • Avoid making online purchases unless you have honed your eye on details and can easily spot a quality piece by picture. I online shop all the time and even though I'm experienced, I'm positive that I pass up on pieces that must be gorgeous in person that I can't be sure of via picture. 
  • Avoid purchasing items that are blatant copies of designer pieces. "Inspired by" can be a dangerous term. For example, chain strap purses were inspired by the Chanel 2.55 and can be found everywhere, but a rectangular quilted leather bag with a chain strap purse is a blatant 2.55 knockoff.
  • Whenever I am brick and mortar shopping, I can be seen touching every single thing in the store. As a store manager, I hate that I am this way as a customer, but honestly a huge part of shopping for me is being able to handle an item. If something feels super soft, well made, buttery, or weighty, I may consider purchasing it. When touching objects, be care to use the back of your hand rather than your fingertips when grazing light colored fabrics and leathers or fur. Your fingertips may pass oils or dirt onto items, which is not great if you are only browsing. 
  • My recommendation is to keep it simple regarding exotic looking skins, prints and patterns, and embellishment. It's very easy for too many details to read as cheap or overtly trendy. I would definitely stick to solid over print/pattern. I strongly recommend avoiding designer looking logoes and patterns unless you are purchasing the real deal (I am actually begging here). When purchasing embellished items, follow the same rules you would regarding jewelry. Look for sheen, lean towards gold, and go for heft rather than light/hollow details. When purchasing exotic skin look-alikes, be sure to stick to naturally occurring colors/sheens. Purple alligators are not found in nature, but brownish green ones likely are. 
  • Don't be afraid to mix all of your pieces. I have been known to throw a Louis Vuitton wallet inside of an Old Navy tote bag. Having a few great investment pieces gives the illusion that all of your pieces are/could be high end. The key here is to leave everyone guessing wether or not your pieces cost you hundreds of dollars. 
  • Lastly, you must treat your purchases like they are all high end. Clean your jewelry once in a while, remove scuffs from your shoes, and store your bags carefully. If a piece is looking to shabby or dirty, retire it-thats why you purchased a lower end item in the long run (this is not an investment pieces). 


  1. I have just read your blog and found it interesting, I will definitely be taking your advice into account next time I go shopping. It's great that you naturally have this skill and could even differentiate between bags as a child. Thanks for all the advice it would be great to be able to fake being rich and still have money left over for the essentials.

    Bernice Parsons @ Badger Anodising

    1. Hi Bernice,

      Thank you so much for your kind words, I'm so thankful that you enjoyed my post!