Money Advice

Luxury Items for Less: 7 Affordable Alternatives to Luxury Goods

You’ve in all probability heard the previous saying, “You get what you pay for,” and in some instances, it’s true. If you’re shopping for one thing you propose to get a whole lot of use from, comparable to swimsuit, a brand new couch, or a cast-iron pan, it’s value paying extra for high quality. These are funding purchases, so spending extra money upfront can pay you again within the type of an extended lifespan.

But for different items, spending extra money doesn’t get you something in return. That’s usually the case with luxurious gadgets. Some individuals assume that designer garments look higher, salon shampoos work higher, and classic wines style higher just because their costs are so excessive. But that’s not essentially the case.

In conditions like these, shelling out for a luxurious model is a waste of money. There are cheaper alternate options to those and plenty of different luxurious items which are simply nearly as good as “the real thing” if not higher.

Affordable Alternatives to Luxury Goods

Luxury items aren’t all alike. Sometimes, their excessive price ticket displays the price of superior supplies or artisanship. In these instances, shopping for a luxurious merchandise is simply paying further for good high quality.

But in different instances, the excessive value is all about standing. The alternate options supply the identical look or efficiency at a way more reasonably priced value level. In these instances, it can save you massive money by selecting the reasonably priced different and indulge your Champagne tastes on a beer funds with out sacrifice.

1. Jewelry & Accessories

In a manner, jewellery is the last word luxurious good. Many high-end merchandise, comparable to designer garments and connoisseur kitchen home equipment, are merely costly variations of sensible commodities everybody wants.

But jewellery is solely ornamental. The solely motive to pay 1000’s of {dollars} for a beautiful diamond necklace or bracelet is as a result of it seems to be good. Yet in lots of instances, there are inexpensive substitutes that look simply nearly as good — if not higher.


A diamond is simply crystallized carbon, and scientists have identified for over 100 years learn how to create diamonds in a lab by making use of excessive warmth and stress to cheaper types of carbon, comparable to charcoal. These lab-grown diamonds should not imitations. Physically and chemically, they’re the identical as diamonds mined from the earth.

According to Forbes, solely probably the most refined devices can distinguish between lab-created diamonds and pure ones. One key distinction between them is that many lab-created diamonds are excellent specimens — they don’t have the issues present in most pure diamonds. They’re higher than mined stones with a considerably cheaper price.

According to The Diamond Pro, lab-grown diamonds immediately are sometimes 30% to 50% cheaper than pure stones. You can purchase a diamond ring made in a lab for round 40% lower than you’d pay for a mined stone the identical measurement — or get a stone that’s 40% larger for a similar value. And these artificial stones don’t have the ethical and environmental problems of mined gems.

However, customers usually see lab-grown diamonds as inferior. That’s primarily because of the efforts of the De Beers diamond cartel, which has waged an enormous PR marketing campaign towards them. De Beers has lengthy stored diamond costs excessive by way of “artificial scarcity,” limiting the provision of stones obtainable. Lab-created diamonds are a menace to that business mannequin.

But in case you look previous De Beers’ hype, you possibly can see that selecting a lab-created stone is a method to save on an engagement ring and be ok with your diamond’s origin. Many on-line retailers, comparable to With Clarity and MiaDonna, carry lab-grown diamonds. You may discover them in some malls, comparable to Macy’s, and at on-line retailers like Amazon.


In concept, a watch is sensible in addition to ornamental. An excellent watch ought to each look good and preserve correct time. And advertisements for timepieces from high-end manufacturers like Rolex and Patek Philippe usually stress their superior high quality, implying they’re value shopping for for the sake of accuracy and sturdiness.

But these days, these arguments ring a bit false. Most individuals don’t want watches in any respect. They can examine the time just by glancing at their telephones. If they select to put on a watch, it’s normally for the sake of favor.

There’s nothing fallacious with selecting a watch since you like the best way it seems to be. After all, you put on it on daily basis, so it makes excellent sense to need one that matches your personal model. The mistake is considering excessive model must value 1000’s or tens of 1000’s of {dollars}.

A 2021 roundup printed by Primer exhibits it’s attainable to search out unbelievable watches at nearly any value level. Many wonderful manufacturers, comparable to TimexInvictaFossil, and Skagen, supply quite a few decisions for $100 or much less. They’re correct, well-made, and exquisite — all the pieces you could possibly ask of a luxurious watch with out the excessive price ticket.

2. Fashion Brands

Fashion isn’t the identical factor as clothes. If all you want your garments to do is preserve you decently coated and shield you from the weather, cheap fundamentals from Walmart — or much more reasonably priced secondhand garments from the thrift store — work simply advantageous.

But trend comes at a a lot increased value. Always having the newest fashionable seems to be means revamping your wardrobe from scratch each season — and in case you insist on designer labels, every new season’s wardrobe will come at a steep value. You may pay over $500 for Alexander McQueen sneakers, virtually $650 for a Gucci T-shirt, and over $2,000 for a Louis Vuitton handbag.

These excessive costs could be value it in the event that they represented an funding in high quality clothes that may final for years. But based on a 2018 examine performed at Britain’s University of Leeds (by way of The Telegraph and Insider), they are often simply the other. When researchers stress-tested denims and T-shirts at varied value factors, low cost fast-fashion items sometimes outperformed these from luxurious manufacturers.

Of course, most fashionistas would say that high quality is about greater than sturdiness. The trend blogger at The Luxe Strategist argues that even when her designer garments don’t last more, the artisanship and a spotlight to element they show are sufficient to justify the excessive price ticket.

But nowadays, you don’t essentially have to purchase garments from high-end designer manufacturers to get this degree of high quality. Many luxurious trend manufacturers supply entry-level traces, generally often called bridge traces or diffusion traces, that supply the designer take a look at a way more reasonably priced value. That lets them attain prospects who aren’t prepared to pay prime greenback for a high-end label.

Prices for bridge traces might be less expensive than for a designer’s high-end signature line. For occasion, designer Hugo Boss’ diffusion line, Hugo, affords a spiffy pinstripe jacket for $445, whereas jackets from the signature line begin at $645. Similarly, luggage from Miu Miu (Prada) and sneakers from REDValentino value round half as a lot as signature variations from Prada and Valentino.

If these costs nonetheless aren’t your concept of reasonably priced, there are methods to get the designer search for even much less, comparable to:

  • Consignment Shops. A consignment store is a kind of thrift store that makes a speciality of high-end clothes. According to TimeOut, many consignment outlets supply designer garments for 50% to 90% off their retail value.
  • Consignment Websites. If you possibly can’t discover a consignment store in your space, strive visiting one on-line. Examples embrace TheRealRealLuxury Garage SalePoshmark, and Rebag.
  • Outlet Stores. An outlet retailer is sort of a large model of the markdown rack in your favourite division retailer. You can discover attire and equipment marked down by 50% or extra at Saks Off 5thNordstrom RackNeiman Marcus Last Call6pmThe Outnet, and The Runway at T.J. Maxx.
  • Designer Knockoffs. Designer knockoffs are low cost copies of a designer’s kinds. They is probably not as well-made as the true factor, however that hardly issues for a bit that’s going to be out of favor in six months. For the very best worth, select low cost knockoffs for fashionable items and spend extra on basic funding items you’ll preserve for years.
  • Affordable Luxury Brands. High-end designers don’t have a monopoly on model. According to Forbes, among the fastest-growing trend manufacturers on the market are reasonably priced luxurious manufacturers that mix trend with worth for money, comparable to Style MafiaAYR, and DSTLD.

3. Glasses

As with diamonds, the eyewear market is dominated by a single company. That company, EssilorLuxottica, makes dozens of manufacturers of designer frames, together with Burberry, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Oakley, Ray-Ban, and Versace.

The company additionally owns a number of main chains that make and promote eyewear, together with LensCrafters and Pearle Vision, in addition to EyeMed Vision Care, one of many largest imaginative and prescient insurance coverage corporations within the nation. In reality, two eyewear executives interviewed by the Los Angeles Times in 2019 say EssilorLuxottica successfully controls the complete eyewear trade.

Also, at you can choose from more than 180 designer eyewear brands for the best price online. With their in-house tools, there’s no more guesswork in buying glasses online.

The eyewear executives say that ends in widespread value gouging. One of them notes that in China, the place many American-market eyeglasses are manufactured, you should buy a set of designer-quality frames for round $15 and a set of “absolutely first-quality lenses” for $1.25. Yet within the United States, these frames and lenses collectively may simply value $800.

One method to save on glasses is to purchase them on-line. At websites like Warby ParkerGlassesUSAEyeBuyDirect, and Zenni Optical, you will get a whole pair of single-vision glasses for as little as $10. Even with top-of-the-line frames, you sometimes pay not more than $200. And a few of these on-line retailers even settle for insurance coverage.

But getting a high quality pair of glasses on-line is a bit harder than buying them in a store. You have to make a separate journey to the optometrist to get your prescription earlier than you store and enter all the main points fastidiously on the positioning. With many websites, you possibly can solely “try on” frames just about utilizing a photograph (Warby Parker has an at-home try-on characteristic).

Then, you need to wait on your glasses to be delivered. And chances are you’ll have to make a separate optometrist go to to have the match adjusted or probably even ship them again if the prescription is fallacious.

If that seems like an excessive amount of work, there are a number of locations to purchase eyewear that aren’t a part of EssilorLuxottica. Warby Parker has retail locations in 30 states and two Canadian provinces. And you probably have a Costco membership, Costco Optical will get prime rankings from Consumer Reports (by way of and sometimes prices lower than $200 per pair.

4. Makeup & Beauty

Looking your greatest might be costly. According to the newest Consumer Expenditure Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical single male spends $270 a year on “personal care products and services,” comparable to haircuts. Single females spend much more — a mean of $663 per year.

And that’s simply the typical. People who’re hooked on luxurious merchandise like high-end make-up, perfume, and shampoo are paying much more. And whereas they might assume these designer merchandise are value the fee for the outcomes they produce, knowledgeable testing and analysis recommend they’re not all the time getting what they pay for.


There are appreciable variations in value amongst make-up manufacturers. You pays $56 for Tom Ford lipstick, $30 for Dior mascara, $63 for Guerlain foundation, and $32 for Laura Mercier blush — or you possibly can go to your native drugstore and purchase the identical sorts of merchandise for beneath $10 every. But will you look nearly as good in these cheaper merchandise?

Based on a number of experiments performed by magnificence publications, it relies upon. Reporters from Cosmopolitan and Byrdie, each of whom describe themselves as hooked on high-end make-up, tried cheaper cosmetics and had been impressed by almost all of them.

However, a tester at Bright Side had a extra combined expertise. The drugstore model of eyeliner carried out identically to the division retailer model, and the pharmacy eye shadow truly held up higher. However, a budget basis didn’t go on evenly, a budget (supposedly waterproof) mascara ran within the rain, and a budget lipstick got here off when she ate an apple.

The backside line seems to be that it is sensible to save on some cosmetics and splurge on others. The Bright Side and Cosmopolitan articles each conclude {that a} high-end basis might be definitely worth the money. However, for eye make-up, drugstore manufacturers can carry out simply as effectively or higher.

Also, not all drugstore cosmetics are equally good. Reviewers on rave about some cheap merchandise, comparable to a $4 NYX lip pencil and a $3 E.l.f. eye shadow palette. But they’re lukewarm about some others.

If you’re considering of switching from a luxurious make-up model to a drugstore model, it’s value checking evaluations for it first. That manner, you’re much less more likely to be dissatisfied. But even when it doesn’t work that effectively for you, it’s no massive deal because you’re solely out a couple of dollars.


Fragrance is a really personal factor. You can’t discover the “best” fragrance by checking evaluations from professionals or different customers. You should strive the scents in particular person to search out the one which works along with your physique chemistry and persona.

That’s dangerous information if the fragrance you consider as yours is a designer model like Chanel or Tom Ford. Fragrances like these can value upward of $100 per ounce. But if it’s your signature scent, it could look like you don’t have any alternative however to pay up.

But there are methods to get the scent you’re keen on for much less. Imitation fragrances mimic well-known luxurious perfumes at a a lot cheaper price. For occasion, Instyle Fragrances affords variations of scents like Black Opium, Chanel No. 5, and L’Homme, all for lower than $5 per ounce.

Many reviewers on Amazon swear they’ll’t inform these imposters from the originals. Their important grievance is that the knockoff variations aren’t as long-lasting. Still, even when you need to reapply them a number of instances per day, 5 spritzes of a $5 fragrance are less expensive than one spritz of a $100 designer perfume.


Many individuals pay $30 per bottle or extra for salon shampoos. If you’re one in every of them, you in all probability assume it’s a worthwhile expense as a result of it makes your hair look so a lot better than a less expensive model. But some magnificence consultants say that’s in all probability not true.

When CBS interviewed magnificence knowledgeable Paula Begoun in 2005, she stated there was “absolutely no difference” between salon merchandise and drugstore shampoos. She stated there was no motive to spend greater than $6 (about $8 in 2021 {dollars}) on a bottle of shampoo. And when a CBS employees member blind-tested three completely different shampoos, she favored a $4 model as a lot as a $20 model.

Begoun isn’t the one magnificence maven to suggest drugstore merchandise. Cosmetic chemists interviewed by Well + Good say accessible manufacturers carry out simply in addition to luxe ones. Editors at Marie Claire embrace a number of drugstore manufacturers on their record of the very best shampoos. And stylists interviewed by Good Morning America suggest L’Oreal Paris, Neutrogena, Suave Professionals, and Gliss (an reasonably priced model of the salon model Schwarzkopf).

But if a excessive price ticket isn’t proof of high quality, what’s? Health and sweetness consultants interviewed by DominoHealthline, and Byrdie say one of the best ways to judge a shampoo is the ingredient record.

They suggest avoiding:

  • Harsh Surfactants. Surfactants are the cleaning elements in a shampoo. But overly sturdy surfactants can strip wholesome oils out of your hair and scalp. Unless you may have an oily scalp, keep away from sulfates, comparable to sodium laureth sulfate or ammonium lauryl sulfate. Look for gentler surfactants comparable to sarcosine and betaine.
  • Parabens. Many shampoos comprise preservatives known as parabens. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says these elements are secure. However, 2006 and 2020 research printed within the Journal of Applied Toxicology present they’ll trigger pores and skin irritation and, at excessive doses, intervene with regular hormone operate.
  • Toxic Ingredients. Parabens aren’t the one ingredient in shampoo that would hurt your well being. According to Healthline, some shampoos comprise formaldehyde, a identified human carcinogen. Other dangerous elements to keep away from embrace hexachlorophene, which is irritating to the eyes and pores and skin, and phthalates, which trigger hormonal issues.

Instead, search for:

  • Natural Oils for Dry Hair. If your hair is dry, consultants suggest a shampoo that accommodates pure oils, comparable to coconut, argan, jojoba, grapeseed, and shea butter. They protect moisture, soften your hair, and tame frizz. Also search for glycerin, which helps lock moisture into your hair. Avoid merchandise with alcohol or sodium, which might be drying.
  • Lighter Ingredients for Oily Hair. On the opposite hand, you probably have oily hair, pure oils like coconut might be too heavy. Look for a shampoo that’s lighter on these moisturizing elements and heavier on the surfactants.
  • Volume Boosters for Straight Hair. To add extra quantity to straight hair, search for pure oils and nutritional vitamins B5, C, and E. Natural proteins, comparable to keratin, rice, and corn, may make hair softer, smoother, and fuller.

Skin Care

Like shampoos, skincare merchandise run the gamut in terms of value. You pays $190 per ounce for La Mer moisturizer or lower than $4 per ounce for Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer from Trader Joe’s. But can the pricier model make sufficient of a distinction to your pores and skin to be value the fee?

According to skincare chemists interviewed by Byrdie and Well + Good, the answer is difficult. The excessive value of luxurious skincare merchandise is dependent upon a variety of things, comparable to elements, growth, packaging, and advertising. But solely a few of these have an effect on a product’s efficiency.

For occasion, some high-end skincare manufacturers have costly proprietary blends of elements. These dear elements could make an actual distinction in efficiency — however generally, all they do is add a particular really feel or scent. You may make an virtually similar product with out them and promote it on the drugstore for lots much less.

Another complication is that the FDA doesn’t regulate cosmetics. Companies should reveal what elements go into their merchandise, however they don’t should share the quantities. So while you purchase a luxurious skincare product containing some particular element like purified inexperienced tea extract, you don’t have any concept how a lot of it you’re getting.

The consultants conclude you possibly can’t depend on a product’s price ticket as an indicator of high quality. Instead, examine the label for well-researched, tried-and-true elements, comparable to retinol, vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid.

Also, search for merchandise with a lot of constructive evaluations. For occasion, Well + Good recommends skincare from The Ordinary, which affords many extremely rated merchandise priced at $10 or much less. The magnificence workforce at Insider additionally recommends merchandise from The Ordinary together with many different drugstore manufacturers that value $25 or much less.

5. Luggage

When you journey loads, high quality baggage is a should. You want luggage sufficiently big to carry all of your necessities, gentle sufficient to hold by way of miles of airport corridors, and powerful sufficient to face as much as being tossed round by baggage handlers.

But high quality baggage and costly baggage aren’t essentially the identical factor. True, publications like Good HousekeepingInsider, and Travel + Leisure give excessive marks to some high-end baggage manufacturers, comparable to Tumi and Rimowa, which may value upward of $1,000 per bag. But these publications have loads of reward for extra reasonably priced manufacturers too.

For occasion, all three evaluations love Away baggage, which prices $200 to $600 per bag. It’s very sturdy and light-weight and comes with a built-in battery charger and a lifetime assure. Other well-reviewed manufacturers, comparable to Samsonite and Travelpro, are even cheaper.

Moreover, none of those publications recommends designer baggage from manufacturers like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. These luggage value 1000’s of {dollars}, however all they actually offer you for the money is a reputation on the label. In severe skilled evaluations, they don’t make the grade.

6. Handbags

Handbags are a barely completely different case (no pun meant). They don’t have to face as much as the trials of journey, however they do get a whole lot of use. The greatest purses look unbelievable, are sturdy, and preserve all of your stuff organized.

Designer luggage can do all that — however at a value of tons of and even 1000’s of {dollars}. There are loads of alternate options that supply each high quality and elegance for much less. For occasion, Madewell and Cuyana are moral trend manufacturers that promote many purse kinds for $200 or much less.

If you favor fashionable kinds relatively than one good bag you need to use for years, Stylight recommends a number of lower-price manufacturers that may ship the look you need at an reasonably priced value level. For occasion, trendy luggage from Vince Camuto are typically beneath $200, and most Aldo luggage value lower than $100.

7. Wine

If you’re a wine lover, chances are you’ll take satisfaction in having a number of uncommon and costly vintages in your cellar. And in case you prize these wines for the bragging rights related to the label and price, chances are you’ll be getting what you paid for. But if all you need is a great-tasting wine, research recommend you could possibly do exactly as effectively with a less expensive classic normally.

Studies coated in The Guardian, the “Freakonomics” podcast, the Journal of Wine Economics, and the journal Research in Agricultural & Applied Economics recommend most individuals can’t actually inform the distinction between an inexpensive wine and an costly one.

Even the consultants can’t all the time distinguish between the 2. Not solely do professionals disagree about which wines are the very best, however in addition they don’t all the time give constant rankings to the identical wine once they style it twice.

None of which means all wines are the identical. It’s simply that the variations between them have little to do with value. James Hutchinson, a wine knowledgeable interviewed by The Guardian in 2013, says he’s been dissatisfied with wines that value tons of of kilos, whereas different vintages priced between 5 and 10 kilos (about $7 to $14) have been “absolutely surprising.”

Blind style assessments additionally affirm that cheaper vintages can style simply nearly as good as dear ones, even to an knowledgeable palate. For occasion, a 2016 take a look at performed by United Kingdom shopper product analysis agency Which gave excessive marks to cheap Champagne and purple wine from discount grocery store Aldi. And in a take a look at by Insider, 3 out of 4 wine consultants most popular an inexpensive malbec to at least one 4 instances the value.

The backside line is you will get good wine for much less by specializing in the wine itself, not the label. Consult the best-buy list from Wine Enthusiast for ideas for extremely rated vintages that value $15 or much less. Or simply ignore what the consultants should say and purchase no matter wine you want greatest that matches your funds.

Pro tip: Do you need to have distinctive wine shipped to you each month? Answer a number of easy questions, and Winc will fastidiously choose 4 bottles of wine for you month-to-month. Need to skip a month? Not an issue. Sign up for Winc.

Final Word

Seeking cheaper alternate options to luxurious items isn’t about skimping on high quality. For occasion, there’s no want to surrender on luxuries like fine art or advantageous eating in case you actually love them and might afford them.

Similarly, in case you’ve lost your coronary heart to a luxurious automobile, it might be a greater long-term worth than a less expensive automobile you’ll quickly develop dissatisfied with. Unlike many luxurious items, luxurious automobiles can supply important advantages in consolation and efficiency. And it’s higher to spend $40,000 on a automobile you’ll love for 15 years than $20,000 for a brand new one each few years.

The mistake is to imagine that pricier merchandise are all the time higher. If you possibly can see simply as effectively by way of cheaper eyeglasses, look simply nearly as good with a reasonable shampoo, and get simply as a lot pleasure from reasonably priced wine, why spend extra? With a less expensive different, you’ll actually get what you pay for, and also you’ll release extra money to spend on the luxuries that matter to you.

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