With the weather now cooling down, I find myself looking at fall staples like elegant loafers and mules. I am late to the Gucci Princetown horsebit mule train – but what better time than now to wear some glamorous flats at home? However, this shoe is pricey at over $700 retail and is a fairly ubiquitous style. So I decided to browse and see if I could find a comparable ‘dupe’ or alternative at a more affordable price point.
After trying on several alternatives, the biggest difference in styles was the vamp. If you’re not sure what that is, Gaynor Minden has a helpful diagram describing a low / deep vamp (think shallow, toe cleavage) vs. a high vamp on ballet shoes.
I haven’t yet found a pair with as high a vamp as Gucci’s mules – and I’m certain this is the key to the comfort and durability of their shoes. This may also explain why people had issues with early versions of non-Gucci mules ripping at the side seams. From my experience with try-ons, the higher vamp also lends a more comfortable fit overall. The entire shoe is forced to bend with your foot, vs. just the front portion, the latter of which can lead to some initial blisters.
That being said – is that reason enough to pay a $400+ premium for the real deal? Probably not! So read on for the current best Gucci mule ‘inspired’ styles:
According to reviews, these are great for wide feet. That being said, I have narrow feet and these fit me as well. These are definitely more ‘bling’ than the Gucci version with a square-almond toe.
Because I’ve had good experiences with Tory Burch leather products (shoes & bags) in the past, I ultimately decided to purchase these. Though I tend to wear neutrals and ‘quieter’ clothing, I somehow couldn’t resist the dragon heads on this style. I’ll be sure to come back and update with any wear & tear updates.
I’ve also had good experiences with Sam Edelman in the past, and have gotten solid wear out of their Felicia Flat and their Odila Heeled Sandal. These and the Steve Madden version below are most aesthetically similar to the Gucci Princetown, though of course the leather is not quite as supple.
There is also a square toed variation Evelan currently on sale from $129 to $64.
Yes yes, I know this is supposed to be a sustainable blog. However, I currently still have some Steve Madden shoes that have held out well, like their Irenee Ankle Strap Sandal. I will not judge you for buying Steve Madden, as long as you wear them! According to reviews, these run a half size small.
And last but not least – the most affordable option thanks to Coach Outlet:
Oout of all the options, these have the highest vamp, though not nearly as high as Gucci’s. I already purchased the Tory Burch Jessa’s, otherwise these are very tempting. This was my first time looking at Coach Outlet shoes, and I am pleasantly surprised by their range of styles. I really like these Chanel slingback knock offs and these edgy ankle boots.
I tried these on briefly at their outlet store, and while I liked the overall fit and vamp height I found these to be extra stiff. If you don’t mind a break-in period and are looking for a budget shoe, these may be perfect.
Partnership Disclosure: This blog post was not sponsored by any of the brands listed above. As always, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links, in which I earn a commission on purchases.