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I know there are plenty among us who still consider kitten-heeled mary janes shoes juvenile, but I don’t care how old I get, they’ll forever be my favorite footwear style. Mary janes are the quintessential versatile shoe staple that goes just as well with a pair of vintage Levi’s jeans and t-shirt as they do with a flirty frock for a cocktail hour affair — for me, they go with anything. I’ve been known to pick up thrifted mary jane shoes from the second-hand store — I’ve even resorted to purchasing a pair on a dance footwear website — but when I laid eyes on the cult-y Instagram-favorite brand Carel Paris, I was instantly enamored by the effortlessly chic Parisian shoe line.
While I only discovered Carel about a year ago (I spotted an influencer wearing a pair on IG and she thankfully tagged the brand in her post), the French label has actually been around since 1952, but the brand has undoubtedly garnered a massive following of new fans (a.k.a. #CarelGirls) in recent years. Of course, because Carel is based in Paris, they’re kind of hard to find if you’re in the U.S. — not to mention over $400 for most pairs when you factor in the international shipping fees.
After embarking on some research, I learned you can actually find some Carel styles on Farfetch (their best-sellers are the Alice, the Kina, and the Soraya) which allows you to purchase them with free shipping and returns, which helps make the decision to splurge on these dreamy shoes a bit more palatable to be sure. Unfortunately, even without the shipping costs, a pair of Carel’s is still going to set you back at least $350-400.
While I for one think these infinitely charming mary janes are a worthy investment piece that will transcend the fickle cycle of seasonal footwear trends, if you’re looking for a cheaper Carel alternative, I’ve gone ahead and some affordable dupes that offer a similar look and appeal.
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Carel Paris Kina Pumps
If you do decide on going for the real deal, Farfetch also carries this popular shoe in silver, patent red and patent white (my personal favorite) and offers express delivery, which is a huge plus.
Carel Paris Alice 65mm Blocked Buckled Pumps
The Alice is Kina’s taller older sister with a slightly more elevated block heel, but it’s still short enough to be able to walk in comfortably. I am obsessed with the patent cherry red hue.
Chiko Shoes Berger Block Heel Pumps
I have to admit, I found these Carel Paris lookalikes with the help of an eagle-eyed editor, and I’ve already purchased a pair for myself.
ASOS Design Wilma Mary Jane Heels
These chic, off-white mary janes shoes feature similar buckle detail to Carel’s Kina and Alice styles but are a fraction of the cost.
SHEIN Square Toe Buckle Flats
While this pair doesn’t have a heel, they feature a similar buckle detail that reminds us of the Kina shoe, and they come in three colorways.
Jeffrey Campbell Bourdain Mary Jane Block Heels
These chunky, patent black heels capture the look of the Carel’s Alice heels — the only thing they’re missing are the extra buckle accents.
ASOS Design Spirit Square Toe Mary Jane Heels