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As a style-conscious New Yorker, I need shoes that look good enough for pounding the pavement of the nation’s fashion capital with the comfort that kind of heavy footwork demands. But here’s the thing — they also need to be affordable enough to replace in case the weather wrecks them. I’ve become a connoisseur of affordable fashion with a pretty keen eye for what makes something look high-end. When it comes to shoes that look expensive but are still pretty damn comfortable, you’d be amazed by what you can find on Amazon if you venture down the rabbit hole. There are scores of luxe-looking shoes under $35, and this roundup features some of the best.
You’ll find classics like equestrian-inspired mules and sharp pointed flats along with sophisticated chain-embellished slides and flatform kicks. Minimalist and maximalist athletic shoes both make an appearance, as do ultra-trendy styles like braided leather block heels and sock sneakers. To maximize your comfort, keep a lookout for memory foam inserts (dress shoes may embed it beneath a faux leather lining) as well as cushy foam midsoles that can absorb impact, and don’t skimp on nonslip rubber soles.
It’s a lot to keep in the back of your mind when you’re trying to decide between favorites, so I’ve done the work for you. Here are my picks for high-end style that maximizes any budget.
Boots tend to be expensive and dropping $100 or more on a pair isn’t uncommon. So when you find a $35 pair of cozy winter boots that are quality made, you know you have a steal. With a sturdy rubber sole, a waterproof upper, and a fuzzy lining, these have shoppers raving: “Great comfort for price.”
Paired with jeans, dresses, or even casual trousers, these slip-on sneakers channel the iconic style of Vans. The low-top slip-on is streamlined yet sporty in a breathable canvas with narrow elastic gores at the arch. The heel is cushioned for blister-free comfort, and inside is a soft padded lining (though not much arch support). “I am obsessed! They fit comfortably, they're cute, and they go with everything. Great substitute for white vans,” a reviewer praised. If white’s not your thing, they come in 20 other colors.
It’s hard to believe you can snag leather loafers under $50, and this pair is a genuine bargain. Over 8,000 Amazon shoppers left enthusiastic ratings for these loafers, which have a supple leather upper and exposed stitching over a visibly springy rubber pod sole. That subtle metal accent adds a touch of luxe and the heel caps fold down to seamlessly transition into chic mules.
You can throw these canvas tennies on with anything for some low-key vintage casual style. Their contoured canvas uppers are similar to a pair of Keds with a modern, chunkier sole. There’s a layer of foam cushioning throughout the footbed to ensure they’re comfy right out of the box and slip-resistant rubber traction underneath.
In keeping with the noughties trends currently enjoying a resurgence, these high-shine slide mules channel early aughts nostalgia. The iconic jelly texture coupled with a squared-off mule and low block heel wraps three major trends into one wearable shoe. Although there aren’t many reviews because it’s a new release, Cape Robbin is a legend among Amazon shoppers for stylish, high-quality, affordable shoes — and the ratings they do have are overwhelmingly positive. “These shoes are stunning and fit like a dream,” one fan wrote. “I’m obsessed! Great quality and super comfy,” another confirmed.
This marshmallow puff of a sandal pampers your feet with cushy comfort in an on-trend silhouette. In spongy EVA foam they feel like walking on, well, pillows — and it keeps their nearly two-inch platform exceptionally lightweight. The footbed is contoured with an emphases on arch support, and a precise angle over the toe supports a natural gait. All while looking like sporty streetwear.
These lightweight kicks are peak athleisure chic. Although you might not run marathons in these sneakers, they’re comfy and athletic for running errands at the very least. The ribbed knit upper slips right on thanks to plenty of stretch, and an arch support insert feels extra-comfy when you’re on the go all day. They’re super light and breathable, too, with a moisture-wicking sock liner and shock-absorbing sole.
Tossed in your suitcase or stashed in a work tote, these ballet flats offer a similar look and feel to Rothys shoes at a more accessible price. If you’re in it for the style, the details check out: breathable mesh uppers in a sharp almond toe flat with a pointed topline, and a waterproof PVC sole that’s flexible enough to roll up. With nearly 2,000 positive ratings, they also carry about a million style points.
The Belice flat is beloved by more than 25,000 shoppers for its classic style and supple feel at an affordable price. The faux leather flat has an elastic topline and extra cushioning through the heel with a thin layer of memory foam underfoot that makes them easy to wear from day one. “These are not your usual cheap ballet flats,” a fan praised. “These are substantial. Made well, supportive and fantastically comfortable.” They also come in a fantastic variety of colors, including snakeskin, gingham, and soft metallics.
It’s impossible to keep a low profile in these cool as hell sneakers — not that you’d want to. Their airy mesh uppers are stabilized with a lace-up harness over the instep and bold graphic tape that wraps around to form a dedicated handle for slipping them on. The open honeycomb soles provide incredible shock absorption on impact without the weight of thicker soles. In high-octane colorways like coral and teal, they’re a fun addition to any closet.
These chic block-heeled sandals look like a Nordstrom find. Thick ropes of braided leather are a plush anchor for the slides, which are thick and supportive over a stable block heel and rubber sole. With options for heel heights from 2 to 3 inches, you can pick the altitude that’s most comfortable for you. “Reaching for these sandals more and more because they’re comfy, cute and elevate my outfits! They didn’t require any breaking in and I’ve worn them for an entire day out,” one fan gushed.
Minimalist and modern, these mesh walking shoes are a sporty choice when you need something simple to slip on and go. The athletic knit features generous ventilation over its instep with a ribbed cuff hugging the ankle and overall just looks so sleek. Meanwhile, bouncy Phylon (a molded EVA) provides cushioning while the outsole adds support with a toe guard that curves up to protect against stubbing. Not convinced? They have more than 15,000 five-star ratings alone.
Amazon shoppers consider these Asgard Chelsea boots a budget style staple, with more than 11,000 five-star ratings. They have all the hallmarks of the classic: a trim ankle boot with U-shaped elastic gores. They’re fully waterproof with rubber traction soles and a layer of cushioning inside — plus a roomy toe box that gives you plenty of wiggle room. In black, they’re a boot that’s French-girl casual but nice enough for commutes into the office. (In silver glitter, however, they’re just plain fun.)
This Amazon Essentials mule hits casual luxe out of the park. With a curving loafer upper accented by a glossy metal horse bit they nod to pricier equestrian mules — and might actually feature more padding. Beneath the faux leather on this pair hides a 6-millimeter layer of memory foam that melts against your foot with every step. Style them with jeans and a tee on the weekend or wear your pair into the corner office. (It also makes a good WFH shoe as a result.)
A softer take on the classic mule, this pointed pair locks down minimalist chic. Let’s get this out of the way: they run at least one size small, but shoppers reported a home run once they found their fit. The narrow toe and matching top line create a streamlined effect in mesh knit, while the footbed conceals 3 millimeters of latex padding underneath its faux leather lining. A scant half-inch heel and sturdy rubber outsole puts a springy, sturdy barrier between you and the ground.
Dunes’ Sydney sandal is artsy and rugged in vegan leather with a faux wood veneer, so they’re light as air. The adjustable ankle strap hides an elastic gore for wiggle room in a pinch, and they’re thoroughly padded through the foot with a proprietary nonslip lightweight sole so you get chunky style without the bulk or weight. The 3.5-inch lift is high but not intimidating thanks to a thick block heel, so you could actually wear these all day.
Several designers have done iterations of platform Oxford shoes, and these are an affordable alternative that keeps comfort in mind. Glossy faux patent leather is die cut and stitched in the signature menswear style and elevated over a chunky fashion-inspired platform with padding across the top line to prevent blisters from forming. The platform looks intense, but it’s really a light and rugged foam that mops up impact and grounded in non-skid traction.
The Frank Mully loafers are comfy-chic and come with a second pair of padded insoles whether it’s more cushioning you seek or a snugger fit. They’re shaped like traditional smoking slippers, but the mesh knit fabrication feels fresh and modern. Underneath, rubber soles come between you and the sidewalk yet are flexible enough to bend. “I’m a flight attendant and needed shoes to wear on the plane. These shoes are so light weight, flexible, stylish, and COMFY...Doesn’t feel like I have shoes on, and in a good way,” one fan wrote.
These sporty sneakers got high marks from 9,000 Amazon shoppers as a solid all-purpose pair that wouldn’t break the bank. With padding at the heel and inside the tongue, plus a moisture-wicking cotton sock liner, the only thing heavyweight about them is their comfort. (Although you might want to add your own arch support if that’s a concern.) Breathable mesh and EVA foam soles ensure they’ll feel ultralight on your feet when you’re going all day.
Set to become just as much of a classic as the Belice flat, Amazon Essentials’ loafers look far more expensive than their price point suggests. The faux leather upper is sewn into a tailored Venetian-style point and turned under at the topline for a smooth finish against the skin. They have dedicated heel cushioning and 6 full millimeters of memory foam embedded beneath the insole with grippy traction throughout their lightweight thermoplastic rubber sole.
These futuristic sneakers are modern, cool, and surprisingly practical. Their supple faux leather is an elevated option compared to canvas with the added bonus of being waterproof, and the zip closure makes getting into and out of them a cinch to do one-handed. They’re decently cushioned with a flat court-style rubber sole for grip (although tired feet might want to add inserts). “Wore these for a vacation in Florida. It rained the whole time we were there so these shoes saw a bit of mud and water,” a reviewer wrote. “They were still nice and white by the end of the trip! So easy to clean (wiped them down with a clorox wipe), didn't get wet inside from the rain, and they were comfortable enough to wear all day.”
Comfort meets style with these slip-on shoes with a memory sole insole. The uppers are made of vegan leather that customers report are cute and easy to clean at the same time. “I wear these to the office everyday! I live in new York and in the winter with snow salt they get the salt on them and they are easy to clean just washcloth and wipe,” one customer wrote. Plus, they come in wide sizes, too.
Chunky chains and thick braided leather are just a few of the catwalk-driven styles you can pick with these fashionable sandals. The leather slides are nice and thick — no flimsy flops here — with a slip-resistant rubber sole on the bottom. Shoppers remarked that they were especially great for wide feet, praising their sturdiness with style. “I wanted something comfortable and easy to put on/take off, but wanted them stylish, too. These are a perfect combination,” as one review noted.
Flat sneakers, high-top booties, and lace-up kicks are all on the table here. These DailyShoes sneakers have earned rave reviews across the board from shoppers who praise their wide range of styles that were super comfy — even the wedges — thanks to a layer of memory foam and soft absorbent lining. The quilted style shown here feels luxurious, and the contrast heel cap is a detail I’ve not seen anywhere else. “The memory foam is nice for long days. I am on my feet for 8+ hours on concrete floors. I have flat feet that hurt pretty often and I am able to wear these. They're also cute and go with everything,” a shopper remarked. (Over 3,000 fans have already left a five-star rating.)
Reach for these pointed d’Orsay flats when you need a sharp alternative to traditional ballerinas. They open across the instep with a tall heel cup and whisper-thin ankle strap that lets you adjust the fit a bit and stabilizes your foot within the shoe. You can get the buttery faux leather in matte and patent finishes (plus a watercolor floral print) all fully lined with a bit of padding through the footbed and a slim waterproof TPR sole.
For street style luxe at its finest, these platform wedge sneakers should be the next addition to your athleisure capsule. Perforated uppers and a thick white rubber sole channel retro sneakers combined with a leather ankle bootie and stylish wedge. Their 1-inch platforms are topped by a low 2-inch heel, so they’ll look far higher than they feel while remaining comfy and stable all day. An elastic bandage-style gore over the instep lets you slip them right off.
This minimalist mule slide is a trendy yet versatile power player. It’s low enough to be casual, but can also be styled to go with a dressy one. Memory foam through the midfoot keeps things extra comfortable. Pair it with everything from floral dresses to suits.
Anyone with Champagne taste on a seltzer budget will appreciate these fashion-forward sock sneakers. They tap into the latest trends from designer brands with a sturdy mesh knit bootie upper and pillowy sculpted sole. “Like a hybrid between a cozy but breathable sock and some [Crocs],” one shopper raved of their comfort. Inside you’ll find a removable foam insole while their impact-absorbing soles keep things flexible, allowing room for your foot’s natural range of motion.
These gladiator sandals are a great polished casual option you’ll want to wear often. The wide elastic bands keep your foot securely seated in style with plenty of comfy stretch hidden beneath their web, with a faux leather heel cap and zipper that looks nice and makes them even easier to get on. A 1-inch micro wedge gives them just enough of a dressy lift. Over 4,000 Amazon shoppers so far have left them an overwhelmingly positive rating.
Another stylish flat from Amazon that has garnered rave reviews is their pointed ballet style, which sharpens up the typically sweet ballerina with a narrow, angular toe. The faux leather comes in nearly a dozen universally wearable neutrals and are blessed with extra attention to everyday comfort. This includes a cushy 8 millimeters of memory foam embedded inside along with a cushioned heel and smooth inner seams throughout. Add on a thin rubber sole with waterproof traction and you have yourself a winner.
In glossy faux croc, candy-colored tie dye, and velvety neutrals, these slip-on shoes update the style that put Vans on the map with a thick platform and high-impact colorways. The elastic gores are narrow so you have just enough leeway to slip them on without compromising your foot’s security within the shoe, and they have built-in heel tabs to help. The breathable interior rocks a bit of arch support, and they offer good impact absorption with waterproof grip in that chunky rubber sole.
Subtly stylish thanks to a delicate crossover design, these pointed flats are a fun alternative to basic pairs when you don’t want to commit to a statement shoe. The luxe faux leather is soft and smoothly finished both inside and out, and the sole is lightly gridded for grip on the sidewalk. “I was looking for something business casual for work and these were a hit,” one shopper remarked, advising that fans might want to “find something hard to tuck up in the shoe at the point so it does not bend” to keep them looking their sharpest.
These cute sneakers are designed to put comfort first in three key ways. The mesh knit upper provides enhanced breathability; inside, ergonomic support features a layer of memory foam that cushions every step. The outsole acts like rubber with the lightweight bounce you’d expect from foam, which renders them extremely flexible while they absorb impact. The laces themselves are decorative, so they’re a good choice for errands and low-impact workouts alike. Be sure to check out their one-of-a-kind colorblocking options just for the novelty.
In cushy, quilted faux leather, these heeled mules are a decadent-looking option, though make sure to check out their plain leather styles if that’s not for you. Their squared-off toes fall in line with seasonal trends, and the heels are wide and shallow, giving you the stability of a block with less heft. They feature extra latex padding for comfort, and the soles are lined in slip-resistant rubber.
This article was originally published on Oct. 2, 2021