10 Essential Brands for Cool, Affordable Shoes

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Affordable-Shoe-Brands

Sometimes, all you really need in life is a new pair of shoes. Unfortunately, those times don’t always correspond to when you’re flush with cash (or prepared to drop $800 on those Acne boots you’ve been lusting after). So it’s a good thing there are some designers looking out for the lower end of the market, and making stylish shoes you don’t have to enjoy solely from a distance.

Over the years of college, entry-level jobs, and pure enjoyment of getting a good deal, we’ve found some favorites that offer reliably well-priced shoes in styles actually worth coveting. Read on for 10 of the best brands you (and your feet) need to be acquainted with.

Miista Lynn Rose Gold Sandals, $175; at Koshka

Miista Lynn Rose Gold Sandals, $175; at Koshka

Miista is based in London, and the city’s young, experimental spirit comes through in just about every pair of shoes they make. If you want pom pom-adorned sneakers, glitter loafers, or Bowie-esque ankle boots, but don’t want to spend half your paycheck on them, this is the first place you should look.

Akira Cutout Pointed Toe Pumps, $39.90; at Akira

Akira Cutout Pointed Toe Pumps, $39.90; at Akira

For seriously high heels on the serious cheap (think under-$50 for a pair of pumps), this Chicago stalwart is a reliable option. As the in-house brand of a chain of fashion boutiques, Akira‘s styles skew trendy—flatforms, fringe, and hologram finishings all figure into their current offerings—but there are also more discreet designs to be had, like the bordeaux-hued stilettos you see above.

Kelsi Dagger Flat, $110; at Kelsi Dagger

Kelsi Dagger Flat, $110; at Kelsi Dagger

Widely regarded as some of the comfiest shoes you can buy, Kelsi Dagger‘s stacked-heel sandals and smart, stylish loafers are designed in Brooklyn and sold around the country in stores like Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Since relaunching in 2014 with an edgier, more laid-back ethos, they’ve made great, lower-priced basics for fans of labels like Rachel Comey and Rag & Bone.

Sol Sana Chuck II Heel, $199; at Heels.com

Sol Sana Chuck II Heel, $199; at Heels.com

I snapped up a pair of Sol Sana sandals on the spot after getting a look at the price. To be fair, they were about $60 on sale, but even full price, you’ll find plenty of styles under $150. The Australian brand isn’t yet ubiquitous Stateside, but they excel at warm-weather footwear, so make sure to take note of them before summer rolls around.

Zara Leather Platform Loafers, $89.90; at Zara

Zara Leather Platform Loafers, $89.90; at Zara

If you haven’t heard of this one, well, we’re not sure where you’ve been—but welcome to the party! Zara‘s footwear selection is pretty comprehensive when it comes to the current trends, and makes it easy to experiment with, say, faux fur lined slip-ons without having to blow half your paycheck. One pro tip, though: Stores are limited in how many sizes and styles they can keep in stock, so shop online or use the “In Store Availability” tool to find what you’re looking for ahead of time.

Mutma Corvette, $77; at Mutma

Mutma Corvette, $77; at Mutma

This Uruguayan line designed by a three-woman creative collective has made headway into the United States thanks to wholesale partnerships with Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Assembly New York, but you’ll find the biggest assortment (and best deals) online. We like the avant-garde vibe of their embossed leather platforms and square-heeled ankle boots—but the best part is most Mutma styles hover around the $100 mark, with the most expensive topping out under $300.

Matisse Reno Bootie, $109.97; at Nordstrom Rack

Matisse Reno Bootie, $109.97; at Nordstrom Rack

Founded in 2001, this LA-based brand has built up a sizable fanbase thanks to their reasonably-priced boho- and rock n’roll-influenced footwear. A collaboration with Kate Bosworth last year solidified their reputation as a go-to label for the festival set, but even if you’re not the Coachella type, you’ll appreciate Matisse‘s walkable heel heights and sturdy construction.

Jeffrey Campbell Esteban Booties, $185; at Jeffrey Campbell

Jeffrey Campbell Esteban Booties, $185; at Jeffrey Campbell

Jeffrey Campbell‘s e-commerce site is one of the great black holes of the internet: click on it once, and you might not emerge again. But while chances are you’re familiar with their designs—who could forget the Great Lita Frenzy of 2010?—you may not know much about the brand itself. This isn’t an accident: it’s been family-owned since 2000, and the founder is famously press-shy (one BuzzFeed profile called him “The J.D. Salinger of Platform Shoes”). What he lacks in transparency, however, he makes up for in output: there are over a thousand different styles to choose from right this very moment.

Intentionally Blank Honcho Mule, $230; at Lori's

Intentionally Blank Honcho Mule, $230; at Lori’s

Sometimes it’s the simplest designs that have the biggest impact, and Intentionally Blank‘s chunky platforms, classic slides, and low-heeled d’Orsays are the kind of shoes that we wish we already had in our daily rotation. Founder Ty McBride launched the line in 2014 with a vision of designing accessories that complement a spectrum of individual styles, and has since broadened the offerings to include handbags as well.

Dolce Vita Howie Heels, $180; at Dolce Vita

Dolce Vita Howie Heels, $180; at Dolce Vita

There must have been at least a dozen times in my life when I’ve complimented someone’s shoes and had them respond, somewhat conspiratorially, “Thanks! They’re Dolce Vita.” The brand has been around since 2001, and their presence in department stores across the country has made them a staple for budget-conscious cool girls across the country ever since. And with a brand new offshoot line in Target stores this spring, they’re about to get even more ubiquitous.

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