As far as accessories go, It-girl-approved bags and a DDG pair of shoes earn the title of MVA (most valuable accoutrements) hands down. A solid pair of steppers is one of the first things we notice about a look, and be it a streamlined pair of ankle boots or a trend-right set of velvet shoes, a cool pair of kicks can make even the snooziest of closet basics feel cutting edge. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have Carrie Bradshaw’s unrealistic clothing budget or a six-figure paycheck to score front-row-ready style either. The high street is practically teeming with jaw-dropping options that will do your fall wardrobe proud without breaking the bank. We’ve pulled the best of the bunch below, so you can step into the new season in style. Scroll on for 15 pairs of budget-friendly shoes that only look expensive.
1. Zara Buckled Block Heel Shoes ($50): Straight-off-the-runway appeal without having to max out your credit card? We’re so down. Between the cool shade of pastel blue and the mid-century buckle details, these block heel mules are downright dreamy. Pair with a printed mini dress or cropped flares for serious ’70s-chic vibes.
2. Free People Modern Days Heel Boot ($129): A good pair of ankle boots can instantly elevate any outfit, and these sock boot-style steppers are no exception. Between the haute styling and stacked tortoise block heel, these faux leather stunners look just like the real deal. Score a few extra style points by teaming them with modern drop earrings and a sleek turtleneck sweater.
3. Sole Society Luella Criss Cross Mule ($80): Embroidery with folksy flair lends a contemporary criss-cross mule an undeniable It-girl edge. Rock ’em solo while you can, then turn to shimmery socks to give them a seasonally appropriate aesthetic.
4. Charles by Charles David Wonder Block-Heel Pumps ($109): Take style cues from It-girl Alexa Chung by adding a pair of strappy Mary Janes to your arsenal stat. The only thing missing? A bow-neck blouse, playful pinafore and bright red lipstick.
5. Uterqüe Chain Leather Loafers ($149): Who needs Gucci when the alternative looks this good? Turn up the class on closet basics by styling these sophisticated steppers alongside your weekend uniform. With a boyfriend blazer and messy top knot, you’ll strike the ultimate balance of down-to-business and lazy-girl cool.
6. Mango Decorative Buckle Boots ($80): Obsessed would be an understatement. Whether you’re pounding the pavement or dominating the dance floor, these chic suede boots — decked out in retro-future buckles, no less — promise to dial up the style factor. Pro tip: Toss ‘em on with a leather mini skirt, ruffle-neck blouse and a perfectly applied cat eye for a look that reads rock goddess.
7. Converse x PatBo Chuck Taylor All Star Embellished Sneaker ($120): Fab florals and gold studs lend a pair of otherwise classic Converse a fresh look just in time for fall. Whether you dress ‘em up or dress ‘em down, they’ll bring their style A-game to every #OOTD. Channel your inner street-style goddess and pair them with a turtleneck sweater dress, bomber jacket and oversized shades.
8. Matiko Rey Flats ($128): These aren’t your average d’Orsay flats — their ballet-beautiful styling and embroidered laces will look DDG with just about everything. For a #winning look, style them with an airy tulle dress layered over high-waisted jeans and a basic turtleneck. Throw in a leather jacket for a model-off-duty aesthetic.
9. ASOS Laguna Pointed Ballet Flats ($36): Be it Taco Tuesday or an important networking event, these are the exotic kicks you need in your arsenal. Giving your snoozy black ballet flats a run for their money, these buckled stunners would look just as good with a bell-sleeve dress as they would with culottes and an oversized sweater.
10. Zara Leather Slides With Bow ($90): As if the show-stopping bow wasn’t enough to catch our eye, these chic slides have been popping up on some of the most fashionable feet in the industry. Whether you’re in for a big meeting, your bestie’s birthday bash or an afternoon of boutique hopping, these throw-on-and-go stompers are as Insta-worthy as they come.
11. ASOS Star Pointed Heels ($62): Who needs stilettos when kitten heels look this good? Super soft suede, don’t-mess buckles and a chic block heel make for a seriously sophisticated shoe that can do no wrong. Send workweek blahs packing by pairing these beauties with a longline sweater dress and statement ear cuff come Monday.
12. Topshop Jagga Round Heel Mid Shoes ($80): Come fall, ankle boots rule supreme, but instead of rocking the seasonal stepper at every opportunity, try coming out of your sartorial shell and embracing unexpected silhouettes. Add a hint of drama to your #OOTD by slipping on these dreamy jacquard numbers with shimmery socks. Gear up for a night out on the town by teaming them with a tee, slip dress and jaw-dropping chandelier earrings.
13. Miss Selfridge Embroidered Boot ($166): If velvet booties aren’t your thing, try these embroidered bad boys on for size. Packing all the of-the-moment appeal of their ’90s counterparts, but with a bit of bohemian flair, they’re the perfect finishing touch for your weekend uniform or a next-level on-the-job ensemble.
14. Free People Monte Rosa Flat ($98): Step aside, basic ballet flats — you have a little competition. Embrace your inner It girl this season by test driving a pair of these French-girl chic slingback flats. With all the charm of a trendy glove shoe and the elegance of a pointed-toe pump, these effortless kicks will have you ready for weekend shenanigans with a camel menswear-inspired coat and saddlebag in tow.
15. ASOS Ariana Leather Lace Up Ankle Boots ($81): Going hand-in-hand with your collection of flowy, feminine frocks and menswear-inspired outerwear, these lace-up croco boots will be right in line with your fashion-forward tomgirl style. Think of yourself as more hipster chic? They can just as easily be styled with skinny jeans, a cozy cardigan and silk scarf for a low-key weekend hang sesh or hitting up the apple orchard.
Follow us on Pinterest for more style inspo!
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.