How to Dress Like the Royals With a Not-So-Royal Budget

By: Sydney Sampson | Last updated: Feb 06, 2024

Turning to the royal family for style inspiration is a tale as old as time. But unfortunately, the tragic fact of the matter is that most of us have very different clothing budgets than the royals.

So how can someone on an ordinary budget imitate that signature royal sophistication without dropping thousands of dollars and ending up in terrible debt? There are a few tips and tricks that anyone can do, regardless of their budget.

Iron Clothing for a Regal Finish

I know, I know, it’s an annoying, seemingly unnecessary chore. But hear us out! Ironing or steaming your clothing is a surefire way to keep your clothes looking as fresh as the day you bought them. In some cases, it even helps strengthen the fabric.


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You can bet that the royal family has a whole team dedicated to properly washing and ironing all of their clothes. Think about it, have you ever seen a royal in a wrinkled shirt?

Avoid Overdoing it with Logos

When it comes to dressing like royalty, the recurring theme is less is more. While it can be fun showing off the designer logos, it doesn’t match the effortlessly chic aesthetic most royals sport. Luxury brands have a large enough marketing budget, they don’t need us to be walking advertisements too.


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If we turn to the most iconic royal dresser, Princess Diana, for inspiration, she never wears more than one designer logo, and even then, it’s subtle.

Stick to Timeless Silhouettes

A timeless silhouette is made up of clothing that has remained fashionable for decades. Think of a simple button-up, a comfortable overcoat, and trousers. These are versatile outfits that could just as easily be worn to the office or out to drinks.


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Not only does dressing this way help with royalty cosplay, but it also prevents you from looking back and thinking “I can’t believe I thought that was cute then!” Take Princess Grace Kelly for example. This photo is from 1954 but the outfit could still be worn today.

Opt for Sturdier Clothing

What’s the saying? Wealth doesn’t scream, it whispers? One of the ways it achieves this is by wearing high-quality, sturdy clothing that doesn’t fall apart after a few washes.


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Finding quality pieces is increasingly difficult these days as clothing that’s made to fall apart is everywhere. Vintage clothing tends to be sturdier than modern high street fares, so check your local second-hand stores for clothing with heavier fabrics, tightly stitched seams, and absolutely no fraying edges.

Owning Fewer but High-Quality Pieces

Dressing luxuriously is all about quality over quantity. It’s far more impactful to have a small collection of high-quality outfits than dozens of poorly made shirts. Even Princess Diana was an outfit repeater.

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While it’s true that generally speaking higher quality means a higher price tag, this doesn’t have to be the case! Clothing swaps, thrift stores, and sites like Vinted are chock full of high-quality pieces that don’t break the bank (not to mention that in the long run, the environment and your wallet will thank you!).


Wear Primarily Neutral Tones

For day-to-day looks, sticking with neutral tones will create a look that says sophistication and class. The added benefit is that with a neutral capsule wardrobe, it’s easy to mix and match your outfits, giving you the biggest bang for your buck.

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Even though the color is neutral, the outfit doesn’t have to be! Megan Markle, who once said she prefers wearing beige to ‘blend in’ with the royal family, proves that you can look glamorous in any color!


Stick to One Pop of Color

When you do opt for a pop of color, try to do it in a strategic way. Use a bold color as an accent to tie a look together (for example, wearing red shoes, a red bag, and red earrings with an otherwise black outfit). It creates a lovely contrast of subtle and bold color schemes.

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As with all things fashion, Princess Diana was a pro at bold/neutral color coordination. She often wore strikingly bold jewelry with neutral-toned outfits.


Invest in a Quality Bag

When trying to look luxurious, we want to achieve a feeling of timelessness. You can never go wrong with a solid black (or any other neutral color, really) cross-body bag. It doesn’t need to be designer, but it should make you feel gorgeous. If you can picture yourself walking down London’s cobbled streets with it, you’ve done well.

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Maybe the best part about a quality bag? It automatically makes any outfit feel lavish, no matter how casual the rest of the ensemble is!


Dark Mysterious Sunglasses

Large, dark, and mysterious sunglasses are such an easy and universal way to upgrade any outfit. No matter if you’re rocking a mini skirt or pair of sweatpants, they just have a certain way of making the wearer look important. The bigger and bolder the better.

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For some style inspiration, we can once again turn to Princess Diana. She rocked this look, looking chic as always in her streetwear outfits and oversized sunglasses. Besides, who doesn’t feel like a superstar in these?


Find a ‘Signature’ Perfume

One of the most underrated ways to imitate royal glamour on a budget? Consistently sporting a nice perfume. This perfume doesn’t have to be fancy – generic brands cost less than $15 and still leave you feeling glamorous.

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We know from a variety of inside sources, that each of the royals has their own go-to-perfume. Prince Harry touched on this in his memoir, where he wrote about his mom’s favorite perfume and how it reminds him of her to this day.


Get a Tailor

I want to take a moment and truly think; have you ever seen a royal in clothes that don’t seem to fit them perfectly? Probably not, because they get all their clothing tailored.

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Having your pieces tailored is one of those things that seems more expensive than it truly is. Prices obviously vary based on where you are in the world, but in London, the average cost is about $25 per clothing article. Even small adjustments can truly take your outfit from basic to royal.


Ignore Microtrends

The last few years have seen the emergence of microtrends – trends that are all the rage for a couple of months before fizzing out. A few years ago crocs were considered hideous and only meant to be worn indoors. Now, they’re all the rage.

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Royal elegance is centered around timelessness, so when aiming for a regal aesthetic try to avoid trends. When you look back at pictures, you don’t want to be able to instantly identify the month it was taken.


Learn to Accessorize

Never underestimate the power of simple jewelry. There’s not a royal family member out there that doesn’t know how to accessorize. Princess Diana in particular did a fantastic job of always finding the perfect earrings to tie an outfit together.

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While of course, jewelry with real gemstones is cost-prohibitive for most, household brands like Target and H&M are full of budget-friendly dupes. With a pair of teardrop earrings or a classically chic pearl necklace, anyone can feel like they’re ready for a royal ball.


Stick to Quality Fabrics

Certain fabrics just have a royal air to them. Anything with silk, chiffon, linen, wool, or cashmere is going to look miles better than standard polyester (and it’ll last longer too!). There are so many iconic royal outfits with these materials that choosing one for an example was a herculean task. But Kate Middleton looks stunning and cozy here in her wool winter coat.

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High quality doesn’t have to equal a high price tag. You may have to dig for them first, but local second-hand shops typically have a decent amount of quality clothes if you search hard enough.


Embrace “Quiet Luxury”

I know a few slides ago we were saying to be wary of trends, but we’re co-signing the ‘quiet luxury’ trend. Quiet luxury is all about swapping extravagant aesthetics for subtle yet well-made pieces. It evokes a sense of timelessness; when the current trend fades, the pieces can still be re-worn.

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Princess Diana especially exemplifies quiet luxury. Her casual streetwear outfits are put together with extremely high-quality pieces, without being overly flashy.


Master Subtle Makeup

Take it from Princess Diana’s makeup artist, Mary Greenwell. She always advises her celebrity clients to stick to softer shades that bring out one’s natural beauty. When asked about how she styled Diana, she said that she’d only use a foundation, quality waterproof mascara, and neutral eyeshadow pallets.

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A natural glam look is easy to achieve, even for beginner makeup artists. Besides, not only will you look like you’re ready for a royal ball, but fewer beauty products means less money spent!


A Couple of Nice, Warm Overcoats

Unironically, one of the best parts of winter is bringing out cozy winter coats! While this does require some investment upfront, a quality overcoat can be re-worn for years. A small but quality coat collection can elevate even the most basic of wardrobes.

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I mean, look how happy the people’s princess looks here in her black and beige overcoat! I’d be wearing that every day this winter if I had that in my closet!


Match to Shoes to the Bag

Want an easy style tip that’ll leave you looking like you hired a professional stylist? Try matching your shoes to your bag! This not only says that you’re a thoughtful dresser, but also that you have countless options (even if that’s not really the case).

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It’s a small detail that really ties the look together. If you’re feeling more adventurous, use your color-coordinated bag and shoe combo to bring a flash of color into your ensemble.


Take Care of Your Clothes

It seems like the royal family has a constant supply of new outfits, and it’s hard to fight the urge to keep up with the Joneses. This kind of overconsumption isn’t just impractical for most of us, it’s also incredibly expensive and terrible for the environment.

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But what everyone can do to give the impression that all of your things are new is take care of the clothes you already have. Here are some easy ways to do this: Follow label washing instructions; get rid of stains; separate the colors; use a delicate bag for more fragile items; and line dry whenever possible.


Fake It ‘Till You Make It

The biggest way to incorporate a bit of sophistication into your style? CONFIDENCE! Several studies have actually proven the idea that the clothes you wear affect your mindset. Basically, if you believe that your outfit is fit for a princess, others will too.

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You would never catch Princess Diana or Duchess Kate Middleton looking self-conscious, even though they must feel like it sometimes. No matter how they may feel, when they’re in public they always look self-assured. The most budget-friendly way to alter your look is, by far, confidence.