Ballet flats were huge last year, and this year, the Mary Jane, another footwear classic, has made a comeback as the shoe trend du jour. The style is likely to remind you of the type of shoes your mother may have made you wear as a little girl, complete with white, frilly socks and your fanciest frocks – but are you still a fan of them in your grown-up years?
If you haven’t been for quite a while, now is a great time to rediscover them. There are plenty of stylish options since this strappy shoe is currently in trend – of course, they are nothing like the stiff, patent-leather styles that are associated with children’s footwear. The best thing about Mary Janes is that they are basically like ballet flats (although there are also heeled versions), with the addition of a single strap, which means they are mostly quite comfortable to wear.
While Mary Janes were first associated with children’s footwear, they have gone on to become a classic staple for adults. In myriad designs and styles, they’ve endured the test of time and even taken the style spotlight several times thanks to transient fashion fads.
They were also wildly popular during the mod movement in the sixties, and were frequently seen on Twiggy, who’s, needless to say, the poster girl for the biggest fashion trends of the era. Unlike the Mary Janes of the 1920s, the most popular mod versions had a shorter, broader stacked heel, and a thin strap over the top of the foot instead of T-bar straps.
The shoe then made another comeback in the 1990s in a bolder, edgier form. Fashion took an alternative twist as the grunge movement emerged then – chunky platform Mary Jane shoes with grommets and large buckles became popular, often worn with knee-high socks and torn fishnet stockings, to complete the, well, grunge-y aesthetic.
Wearing the wrong shoe size leads to a host of foot problems: How to find out and what you should do
Today’s Mary Jane shoe designs are a lot different and infinitely more wearable that are in step with the latest trends. Options are aplenty right now, whether you prefer them flat or heeled, pointy or round-toed, understated and classic or in an eye-catching style and colourway. Here’s a selection of some of the most stylish picks to shop.
Vibi Venezia cotton-canvas Mary Jane flats, US$108/S$148, from Matchesfashion.com
Another Mary-Jane style that shows how straps can play a big part in a shoe’s design, this pair is made for modern aesthete whose tastes lean towards the minimal and cool.
Available at Massimo Dutti.
Le Monde Beryl Satin Mary Jane pumps, US$416/S$571, from Matchesfashion.com
This pair has got two appealing features – a vintage-styled design that’s not easy to come by, and thick block heels that are easier on the feet.
Available at Farfetch.com.
Carel Paris Kina square-toe pumps, S$686, from Farfetch.com
A T-bar design with gilded toe caps for a gleaming accent that looks chic paired with pure white.
Available at Shopbop.com.
Maison Margiela Tabi Mary Jane heels, US$995/S$1,365, from Ssense.com
A little bit of punk, a bit of street, these chunky shoes instantly add interest to a plain outfit.
Available at Hermes boutiques.
Manolo Blahnik Campari 90 polka-dot mesh Mary Jane pumps, S$1,446, from Net-a-porter.com
Clearly a luxe version of the iconic shoe style, in plush navy velvet and with a crystal-embellished buckle, which is a sparkling signature feature of the French shoe designer.
Available at Roger Vivier boutiques.
Chanel glitter and lambskin Mary Jane heels, S$2,230