11 Affordable Items That Will Instantly Elevate Your Outfits in 2021

Joy Montgomery
·4-min read

I won't bore you with the usual 'new year, new you' aphorisms, because really, most of us barely have the energy to prop-up our 'old' selves, let alone fabricate some new shiny version. Henceforth, our January motto shall be: 'new year, same you', but hopefully with the addition of a few small comforts to get us through the next four weeks—be it good coffee from the nearby cafe or a weekly catch-up call with your BFF.

When it comes to shopping, if you're anything like me you'll feel somewhat wrung-out by the seasonal sales, and so this month I'm attempting to strip it all back with individual, hand-picked items that will refresh and elevate the basics that already sit in my wardrobe. Think of these as the fashion equivalent of a 'good coffee': It's all about quality over quantity and styles that will re-energise your wardrobe for the months to come. Same wardrobe, new ideas.

From colour-block knits to puffer waistcoats, there's plenty to choose from, but try not to lose your head and buy more than you actually need—rather take the time to ponder the options and find the pieces that match your taste and will slip into your personal capsule with ease. For me, this will be fringed jackets to throw over jeans and a roll neck, and second-skin tops to give my summer dresses more mileage. So, if you're looking for an affordable gem to add flavour to your 2021 outfits, scroll down to see my elevating high street edit.

Colour-Block Knits

A colour-block knit is just what your winter outfits need for a bit of artistic flare. Just add to your favourite pair of jeans and throw in a pair of combat boots.

Mango Multi-Coloured Knit Sweater (£50)

& Other Stories Mock Neck Colour Block Rib Sweater (£55)


Classic and polished, the loafer is the shoe style that is feeling undeniably fresh for 2021. Keep it from looking too 'school uniform' by styling with dressed down separates.

Mango Leather Loafers With Chain (£60)

Arket Leather Loafers (£135)

Second-Skin Tops

Whether you use them to update your summer dresses for the winter months or simply as a cold weather layering hero, second-skin tops won't let you down this year.

COS Tencel Lyocell Tie-Dye Long-Sleeve Top (£45)

Paloma Wool El Valle Check Jacquard Knit Top (£115)

Wide Leg Jeans

Some may be hailing the return of the skinny jean, but I'm firmly sticking to the dramatic stylings of wide leg denim. Balance out the OTT proportions with a fitted knit.

H&M Wide High Jeans (£25)

COS Organic Cotton Barrel Leg Jeans (£69)

Pop of Pink

You might not have considered pink as a viable colour for a while, but many brands are offering up stylish pieces in subtle shades of peach and candyfloss.

Arket Linen Blend Trench Coat (£175)

& Other Stories Cropped Cable Knit Cardigan (£85)

Puffer Waistcoats

The puffer is fast becoming this winter's go-to outwear buy, but the padded gilet offers a more off-beat way to rock the trend.

Zara Faux Leather Puffer Gilet (£30)

Mango Waistcoat (£120)

Layering Dresses

Wear alone with knee-high boots and a roll neck or layer over tailored trousers, the layering dress is your unexpected cold weather saviour for 2021.

Cos Wool Oversized Shirt Dress (£45)

& Other Stories Belted Wool Knit Polo Midi Dress (£85)

Flat Knee-High Boots

What do you get when you combine 2020's cult combat boots with a knee-high silhouette? Only the most perfect winter boot we've ever seen.

Arket High-Shaft Chunky Leather Boots (£290)

& Other Stories Chunky Knee High Leather Boots (£205)

Fringed Trims

Fringing isn't just for the height of summer—give this Wild West trim a winter twist with Arket's roll neck or All Saints' suede jacket. Instant outfit elevation.

Arket Fringed Roll-Neck Jumper (£41)

Allsaints Mina Suede Tassel Jacket (£179)

Printed Trousers

This is a perfect one for when you're WFH but want something a little more polished (but no less comfy) to wear instead of your trackies. Wear Zara's pyajama-style trousers with a cream cashmere knit.

Zara Printed PYJAMA-STYLE Trousers Trf (£13)

Cos Loose Pants (£69)

Collared Knitwear

The statement collar is sticking around for 2021, and these knitted iterations are making us fall in love with the trend all over again.

Arket Collared Wool Jumper (£89)

H&M Collared Rib-Knit Jumper (£25)

Mango Openwork Knit Cardigan (£36)

Up Next: Spring/Summer 2021 Trends: The Most Important Fashion Looks You Need to Know

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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