I’ve resigned myself to a life of affordable goods, but that doesn’t mean a constant compromise in life and style. Welcome to On the Cheap, my weekly pick of affordable items that are actually worth it—and look far more expensive than they actually are.

For me, being 5’1" means approaching fashion trends with caution. Most flared jeans don’t fit, oversized anything is a swimming sport, and an item that looks like it belongs on a child should be altogether avoided (it’s Lolita territory and that’s a game I am not not here to play.) There's nothing quite like being told I can fit in someone's pocket (which is more their fault than mine, but I digress).

When you’re this short, it’s natural to associate flat Mary Janes with your baby niece who can't walk yet...or Princess Charlotte.

Uniform, Snapshot, Standing, Footwear, School uniform, Leg, Gesture, Shoe, Shorts, Style, pinterest icon
Just an excuse to look at these cuties, tbh.
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A statement red Mary Jane with a matching hair accessory. Iconic.
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But who doesn't want to dress like a royal? Designers Maryam Nasir Zadeh and Creatures of Comfort also helped change my tune on the MJ, but since my flat soles are unlikely to make it past 2018, an investment pair doesn't make sense. Luckily, I found an equally chic alternative at only $19...

Footwear, Shoe, White, Human leg, Mary jane, Leg, Beige, Joint, Ankle, Calf, SHOP NOW

SHOP NOW Urban Outfitters Leather Mary Jane, $19; urbanoutfitters.com

And was totally sold. Twice over, in fact, because I bought them in both colors. Finally, a shoe that supports my hatred of toe cleavage, are surprisingly comfortable, and look way more expensive than they are.

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Justine Carreon

Justine Carreon is the market editor at ELLE.com covering fashion, Dutch ovens, and fashion again. When she isn’t approaching style through a modern, accessible lens, she’s scouring eBay for vintage Levi’s and pretending she knows how to surf. Before joining ELLE.com in 2015 she worked as a freelance writer and stylist in New York City.