The holidays are upon us and it’s time to start thinking about what shoes to wear for upcoming festivities. (Be sure to stay tuned for a roundup of the best shoes to wear to holiday parties!) Coming from a woman on a budget, my tastes tend to reach beyond my means, and browsing the web for some booties is what gave rise to this Look for Less, holiday edition.

I first stumbled upon the Prada Laser Cut Open Toe Booties and was envisioning myself wearing them to many holiday parties and even long after that. I had my credit card in hand, ready to type in those magical numbers, when the sudden realization that I will soon begin holiday shopping for family and friends set in. So I figured, why not research some other alternatives? That’s when I came across these MICHAEL Michael Kors Aiden Studded Laser-Cut Booties.

The obvious difference between these two booties is that Michael Kors incorporates stud embellishments, while the Prada booties are more simplistic, with the entire bootie covered in an all-around luscious suede. Both booties have similar heel height, feature an open toe and zip up behind the ankle. The main (and most important) difference, though, is the price. The Prada booties are $600 more then the Michael Kors versio for a very similar design. Which pair to get? If you are on a budget, the Michael Kors booties are just as luxurious looking as the Prada alternative.

MICHAEL Michael Kors Yvonne Crystallized Cage Bootie
$250 via Neiman Marcus

MICHAEL Michael Kors Aiden Studded Laser Cut Bootie.jpg

Prada Laser Cut Open Toe Bootie
$850 via Nordstrom

Prada Laser Cut Open Toe Bootie.jpg

I love fall, I really do, but if there’s one thing I hate about it it’s the fact that cold-weather shoes tend to cost more, which usually results in less shoe shopping. While I have fallen in love with plenty of beautiful leather boots and printed flats, I can’t afford to splurge on all of them at once, so I am constantly perusing the internet for similar styles.

This week I fell in love with a pair of Jil Sander Polished Leather Ankle Boots, which are edgy, refined and just begging to be mine. While my initial thought process was to purchase the shoes and don’t look at the price, I quickly convinced myself to shop around before I made such a rash decision.

Lucky for me, I quickly came across a very similar pair from Zara at a fraction of the price with the same overall aesthetic. Of course, you can’t compare the quality of the two shoes, but for the difference in price, the Zara ones are definitely worth the steal.

If you’re looking to save, you can purchase these Zara Boots for $159 via Zara or splurge on the Jil Sander pair via Net-a-Porter for $995.

Jil Sander Polished Leather Ankle Boots
$995 via Net-a-Porter

Jil Sander Polished Leather Ankle Boots

Zara Black Leather Boots
$159 via Zara

Zara Black Leather Boots

The second September hits, I usually begin my binge shopping on smoking slippers, which by now you know I love. They make for the perfect fall transition shoe when your feet just aren’t quite ready to squeeze into boots. These Jimmy Choo Wheel Studded Suede Smoking Slippers are perfect for everyday wear in the fall – not only are they basic black, but they’ve got that tiny bit of flair you’re always looking to add to your outfit. While I have no doubt in my mind that I would get every penny’s worth out of them, spending $695 just isn’t doable after all my splurging on summer vacations. Lucky for me, I found a very similar pair at less than half the price.

Of course, the Rebecca Minkoff Alvin Studded Suede Smoking Slippers are red suede versus the black Jimmy Choos, but these days, red can be as versatile as black. Going off the picture alone, the Minkoff slippers appear to have a less structure compared to the Choo’s, which in turn may be nice when it comes to comfort. In the end, both shoes prove to be great choices for fall. As much as I love the Jimmy Choos, I’m taking the Minkoffs on this one. The price difference is simply too steep to pass these up, and we have a feeling the Choos won’t be a sale for a good while.

Jimmy Choo Wheel Studded Suede Smoking Slippers
$695 via Saks Fifth Avenue

Jimmy Choo Wheel Studded Suede Smoking Slippers

Rebecca Minkoff Alvin Studded Suede Smoking Slippers
$225 via Saks Fifth Avenue

Rebecca Minkoff Alvin Studded Suede Smoking Slippers

When I first saw the Givenchy Floral Lace Slip-On Sneakers, I wanted them immediately. Givenchy has a particularly skillful way of mixing streetwear with high fashion, and these shoes are a perfect combination of the Vans slip-ons of my youth and the delicately gothic aesthetic that creative director Riccardo Tisci is known for. The only problem, of course, is that they cost in excess of $600, which feels like a lot of money. I’ve tried on Givenchy’s slide-on sneakers in the past, and they’re nice, but they’re also pretty basic.

That’s where the Marc by Marc Jacobs Slip On Lace Sneakers come in. They’re not as graphic as the Givenchy originals, and the patent cap toe is a bit distracting, but if you’re trying to get the look without paying more than half a grand, these shoes will get the job done in relatively luxurious fashion. If it weren’t for that toe, I might be ordering myself a pair right now. As it is, they’re still quite a good Look for Less, but I’ll hold out and see if the Givenchy sneakers go on sale.

Givenchy Floral Lace Slip-On Sneakers
$650 via Saks

Givenchy Floral Lace Slip-On Sneakers

Marc by Marc Jacobs Lace Slip On Sneakers
$248 via ShopBop

Marc by Marc Jacobs Lace Slip-On Sneakers

Sometimes, a Look for Less makes you wonder why you spend so much on premiere designer shoes. Other times, it’s a clear indication of exactly why we shell out what we do for the best kicks around. In the case of these Rene Caovilla and VC Signature by Vince Camuto sandals, though, the effect is somewhere in the middle. The looks are so close that the price difference is painful, but the details on the more expensive option are so exquisite!

As you can see, we have two very similar sandal concepts going on here. Both are relatively flat thong sandals made out of gold leather, and both have jeweled embellishments across the top of the foot. The fastenings are different, but the visual intent is much the same. I actually prefer the structure of the VC Signature shoe – the slight heel helps to give the sandal some structure.

The devil is in the details, though, as it usually is. When you compare the embellishments side to side, the Rene Caovilla shoe is the winner by a mile. The designer is known for his use of jewels and rhinestones, and you can see what that level of expertise hath wrought. On their own, the VC Signature shoes might not look so puny. Next to Caovilla’s, it’s hard to find the glamour in them. For the price difference, though, I’m willing to keep looking.

Rene Caovilla Jeweled Cuff Thong Sandals
$1,395 via Neiman Marcus

Rene Caovilla Jeweled-Cuff Thong Sandals

VC Signature by Vince Camuto Marla Sandals
$195 via Neiman Marcus

VC Signature by Vince Camuto Marla Floral Brooch Flat Sandals

In a situation where one shoe didn’t clearly “inspire” a lower-priced alternative, the Giuseppe Zanotti T-Strap Flat Sandals and the Tory Burch Pacey Flat Sandals are about as close as you’re going to get. Both are from Spring 2013, so they were designed around the same time, and I doubt that Burch is looking to Zanotti for inspiration – the two brands have very separate aesthetics and target customers. In fact, a sandal as simple as these is the only place the two are likely to overlap.

If you look closely, though, you’ll see that each brand puts their own touches on these minimal shoes. Zanotti’s are rendered in lush suede, with curved ankle hardware to match the gilded T-strap. Instead of a regular buckle at the back, you get full heel coverage and a zipper, which balances the minimalism of the straps nicely.

Burch’s alternative, on the other hand, are a little bit more straight-laced. The T-strap accent features the designer’s omnipresent logo, and the sandals are made out of leather, which is more functional than suede but also a bit less luxurious. The Burch sandals fasten with a traditional buckle, and although they may be a tad less rich-looking, the huge price difference for such a simple shoe leaves me without complaint.

Giuseppe Zanotti Suede T-Strap Flat Sandals
$850 via Neiman Marcus

Giuseppe Zanotti Suede T-Strap Flat Sandals

Tory Burch Pacey Flat Sandals
$265 via Neiman Marcus

Tory Burch Pacey Flat Sandals

But really, where would you wear the Charlotte Olympia Gigi Wedge Sandals? Besides fashion week, of course. I’d honestly like to know. Usually I can look at a pair of shoes and immediately imagine them in a context where they’d make sense, particularly if it’s a pair of shoes I like. And I like these wedges! I really do. I just don’t think I understand them.

If you don’t like these shoes, that’s also a perfectly defensible position. They’re weird and fringe-y and have an enormous platform wedge that looks and feels just as enormous as it is. If you’re fully acclimated to the delirious logic of the Charlotte Olympia universe, though, it’s likely that none of those things bother you. They don’t bother me. I would like to know where you’re going when you strap these on, though, so let me know in the comments.

Or, if you’d like to give me a performative answer to this question, pick up a pair for $1,085 via Neiman Marcus and get to stepping.

There are seemingly zillions of color trends out there for spring and summer, but one of the most thoroughly modern options you have is the combination of neons and neutrals, specifically fluorescent yellows and greens with soft, pale beige and nude colors. Not only do the neutrals make the neons a little bit more toned-down and wearable, but it also makes the trend translatable to something other than just casual weekend wear.

Trends are still trends, though, even when they’re good, which means that some people aren’t keen on spending huge bucks to get the look. No matter the budget, though, we’ve found an option for you in this week’s The Look for Less, starring the Reed Krakoff Leather and Patent Wedges and the Diane von Furstenberg Elan Leather and Rubber Wedges. (more…)

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