Trendy Ethnic Shoes

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They're cute, compact, comfortable, and priced so low that it's no big loss if they only last the length of your trip

Chinese

Unlike the constricting shoes once used for the archaic Chinese practice of foot-binding, these thin-soled mesh slides were created for comfort.

Where to buy:pearlriver.com, or souvenir shops in San Francisco's Chinatown, including China Bazaar (667 Grant Ave., 415/391-6369, $10).

Korean

Sole-less cotton dut beoseon are customarily worn indoors and over socks.

Where to buy: Asian supermarkets and traditional Korean dress shops in Los Angeles's Koreatown, including Sin Sae Kae Department Store (3150 W. Olympic Blvd., 323/732-7263, $8).

Indian

Gilding, beading, and embroidery once made jutis affordable only to the upper class and maharajas (Indian royalty). Now, thanks to the wonders of mass production, they're accessible to one and all.

Where to buy:jaipur4u.com, or sari stores around Chicago, including Uma Sarees (2535 W. Devon Ave., 773/338-5603, $15).

Scoring the Best Deals at DSW

Designer Shoe Warehouse is a massive chain with more than 200 locations (dswshoes.com). Its size allows its stores to buy in bulk at up to 50 percent off. Each DSW store has about 30,000 pairs of shoes, at a range of discounts. Here's help getting your bearings. --BKG

  • Shipments arrive on Monday and Tuesday. Arranging them takes two days. So Wednesdays and Thursdays, selection is tops.
  • Every store is laid out exactly the same way. On the far right are women's high-end shoes like Prada and Marc Jacobs; center aisles feature casual and seasonal shoes; and sneakers are to the left, near the men's shoes. End caps (displays at the end of an aisle) highlight trends. But the featured products aren't necessarily discounted more.
  • Don't dismiss shoes on the clearance rack as over. It's actually stocked with the newest styles, which sell out the fastest. If a store doesn't have a three-size range (like a 7, an 8, and a 9), this is where stragglers go.
  • If you see shoes you like, grab 'em while they're available or someone else will. You can always put them back. DSW's entire inventory is on the floor.
  • The chain's membership club, Reward Your Style, is free. For every $250 you spend over time, they'll give you a $25 gift certificate. Best of all, accumulated points never expire.
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