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How to have expensive taste (authentically)

Historically, expensive taste used to be synonymous with good taste, however today it is synonymous with inflated price tags. The expression is used a lot these days, especially within the celebrity culture who like to use it to brag about their wealth and success in a humorous but serious sort of way.

However expensive taste was not always used in this way and despite the misconception, it is not something you need to be a millionaire to have. In fact there are very wealthy people who have very bad taste, so it is not something that only comes from having money or wealthy parents, it’s a skill you can develop. So let’s look at what expensive taste actually means, how you can develop it and how you can use it in your own wardrobe.

What does it mean to have expensive taste

Having expensive taste is knowing when something is made with a high level of quality and craftsmanship. It also means being able to see long term value through the design and durability of a product without relying on a price tag to know whether it is valuable or not. 

Having expensive taste is also about finding beauty in things that are more rare and not mass produced so that they look more unique and are not worn by many people.  It also means recognizing what kind of items are tasteful for the climate or the society you live in so that it reflects your ability to be in tune with the world you live in. 

Expensive taste is about developing an appreciation for the time and dedication that goes into crafting something that is beautiful and distinct. It’s not about having one super expensive item in your wardrobe so that everything else you wear is cheaply made and mass produced. Finding a balance that suits your budget and a focus on authenticity is the key to success and it does not have to stop at fashion but can be applied to a lot of different areas of your life.

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Is it bad to have expensive taste

Expensive taste is bad for your self-esteem and your pocket, if you use it to show off and feel superior to others. However, if it means more to you than just a high price tag or impressing others, then it can have many benefits for you, your purse and the environment.

Many people think that having expensive taste is boastful, needless, wasteful and not sustainable. However, it’s not about never wearing the same outfit twice, it’s actually the opposite. How long and how many different ways can you wear a beautiful piece in your wardrobe and keep it in great condition for many years and in some cases for the next generation. Genuinely expensive taste is not wasteful. It emphasizes the importance of seven things:

  1. Products that are well made with authentic materials that tend to be natural and not synthetic.
  2. Products that are designed to be aesthetically classic or timeless which means it can still be worn for years to come and not just for one season.
  3. Products that are made to be durable, therefore lasting much longer in your wardrobe. 
  4. Products that fit well, and have an impeccable finish.
  5. Products that have a unique historic significance and may even have the ability to appreciate in value over time.
  6. Products that are unique, rare or exotic in some way, not just a basic t-shirt with a designer logo that anyone can have or rip off for example. 
  7. Usually your money goes to craftsmen, artisans or businesses that specialize in a certain area and take more care and time in manufacturing their products rather than business chains that sell huge quantities of cheaply made things.
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How to have expensive taste

So let’s talk about how you can have expensive taste for yourself. Remember the goal is not to buy expensive things JUST because they are expensively priced. The whole point is to find pieces with real beauty, quality and value that you absolutely love so that you can restyle and wear them for many years to come.

1 – Think differently!

Shopping for our wardrobe is something that we’re made to feel guilty about. We either feel guilty for buying too many inexpensive items from fast fashion stores or for spending a lot on a few items that have better quality. 

We live in a world where more is perceived as better so fast fashion stores concentrate on selling as many items as possible that are cheap and easy to produce. However, shopping with genuine expensive taste is not about being reckless with your money or spending it for nothing. 

It involves being careful and particular about the quality and versatility of the item you’re buying. It’s then followed by an intentional decision to invest in the piece because it’s long-lasting, well-made and worth the money that you’re going to spend on it. There is nothing to feel guilty about and if you want to start developing your own sense of expensive taste, you have to start thinking about it as a long term investment strategy that will pay for itself over the many years to come.

Related: The most versatile accessories for the whole year

2 – Look for balance

Having expensive taste does not mean spending your entire budget for your wardrobe on one or two things. It’s important to find a balance until you feel that you have a diverse range of quality pieces in your wardrobe that you can use interchangeably in your outfits before you go and invest larger amounts in more distinct pieces of clothing and accessories. 

For example, how much sense is there in wearing a high-end luxury  handbag when the rest of your outfit is from a cheap fast fashion store that fades every time you wash it. Now there’s nothing wrong with wearing some inexpensive pieces, but it’s important to find a balance throughout your whole outfit.

Related: How to build a classic wardrobe from scratch and long term
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3 – Think about the children

Are there items you’ve inherited from your parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents that you’d never dream of wearing today? Are there items you’ve inherited that you’d have no problem wearing today? This is the benefit that timeless design and classic aesthetics can give you. One day, your style (good or bad) will live on through your items that were passed on to younger generations. 

Keep this generational aspect in mind next time you think of buying that neon green trendy sweater and remember that expensive taste is not only about high quality, it’s also about ageless and intelligent design that remains classy and stylish for decades. Think of a vintage Chanel bag for example and how it has been revered for its beauty for generations because of its simple and elegant design.

4 – Price to Value

It’s not always the case that you get what you pay for. Sometimes you get a bit more than what you pay for but most often you get a lot less. Brands that do a lot of marketing, advertising and brand building to crank up the prestige, exclusivity or even just the hype around their products end up pricing all of those extra costs into their items because they need to pay for it somehow. 

So if you’re starting out, it’s important to pay close attention to the price to value ratio. There are lots of premium, smaller niche or affordable luxury brands out there that specialize in a particular area and are more discreet with their advertising, which means you’ll pay a much more balanced p:v ratio. 

However, it’s always best to do your research on new found brands, read their reviews and when possible, feel and see their products up close so that you can assess the quality for yourself. While they have some benefits, synthetic fabrics are usually the cheapest to produce, the least long-wearing and the most harmful to the environment. 

Do your best to learn about material, weave and fabrication methods so that you can become better at assessing high-quality for yourself. This skill and knowledge is really the backbone of expensive taste, not buying a bunch of Berkin bags just because you can.

Related: What are considered luxury handbags – The luxury hierarchy

5 – Buy what you love

Since what we wear is something that is a part of our lifestyle, the clothes and accessories you should be shopping for should not only focus on the aesthetic and quality that you like but also the brand that’s attached to it and how they make you feel emotionally. 

For example, there is a certain type of person that shops at Tiffany, Ralph Lauren or Gucci and the reasons differ between each brand because they subscribe to a certain kind of lifestyle or ethos that their customers feel aligned with and therefore means much more to them than just another brand.

So try to buy things that not only make you look fantastic but also more importantly, make you feel fantastic because of how you associate your lifestyle or relate your personality to that brand. It can be anything from their aesthetics, their values or their sustainability practices that can reflect something about your style, who you are, how you see yourself and who you aspire to be.

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how to have expensive taste what is expensive taste emotional brands lifestyle ralph lauren

6 – A different take

Having expensive taste can also be orientated to things that are specific about you. For example, if accessories are not your thing but clothing is, and you just can’t seem to find the right sizes for your body then you are well within reason to spend more on tailoring or clothes that are made to your measurements. This is another very effective way to express your expensive taste and prioritize your own comfort.

You could also pay particular close attention to what is the most appropriate clothing and accessories to invest in, in your particular environment. There’s no point in spending a huge amount on beautiful wool coats if you live in Florida or exquisite linen dresses if you live in Alaska. Start out by focusing on the items that are the most useful to you in your environment and lifestyle.

7 – Take care of your expensive items properly

This comes part and parcel with having expensive taste because there is really no point in having taste if you’re not going to take care of your items and keep them in good condition. This means:

  • Following the washing guidelines for each piece correctly and even protecting them in a laundry bag where necessary.
  • Steaming rather than ironing certain materials. 
  • Keeping good air circulation in your wardrobe so your items don’t get musty. 
  • Taking the time to hang your items at the end of the day rather than leaving them in a rolled up ball or flung across the sofa. 
  • Not leaving your beautiful handbags on the floor but on the seat next to you when you’re out and about etc.
  • Secure loose threads, buttons or hemlines as soon as they happen so they don’t get worse.

All in all, it’s about respecting your valuable items and treating them with care so they last and provide a great return on your investment.

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What to do when your taste is more expensive than your budget

When your taste is more expensive than your budget, it’s important not to get discouraged. Don’t be tempted to purchase replicas or dupes. Search for smaller high quality niche brands that align with your style and create products that are similar in aesthetic to the item you want.

It’s important to recognise that luxury items (while I adore them) tend to be very expensive because all of the costs of keeping their brand exclusive and prestigious is priced in. Don’t get me wrong, these luxury pieces are usually exquisitely made! But if you are looking for something within your budget, then try to find products with a more balanced price to quality ratio.

Related: Affordable luxury alternatives for the Celine Box Bag.

Developing true expensive taste does not happen overnight, it can take practice but it can be enjoyable and something that you become more and more passionate about as time goes on. You’ll find that you see and notice beautiful brands and products that you never paid attention to before and that you enjoy supporting with your hard earned money. And of course this is a skill that you can apply to many different parts of your life beyond fashion.

Finally here are some handy questions that you can ask yourself while you’re starting out on your journey to building a beautiful wardrobe full of long-lasting and tasteful pieces.

Questions to ask yourself: 

  1. Is it made of authentic good quality materials?
  2. Was it made slowly or by hand or was it made rapidly in a factory?
  3. Are all seams, threads and edges neatly finished off and tucked away?
  4. What level of care was paid to the details?
  5. Have you seen it worn many times by other people?
  6. Is it appropriate for my cultural environment?
  7. Is it comfortable for the climate I live in?
  8. If it’s a winter item, does it have a lining? Is it made of a cheap synthetic or something else?
  9. Does it have a dry clean only tag? (Delicate fabrics like wool & silk are DCO)

I hope you found this article helpful. I would love to see how you use these tips to enhance your style so please please tag me on InstagramTiktok or Pinterest or you can or send me a message because I would love to see! 

About the author 

Mish has a Masters in Fine Art and she has an interest in classical design, history and culture. She loves to analyze fashion and style through this lens to help people develop authentic personal style.