Where do mary janes get their name? As the story goes, the original Mary Jane was a young female character created by the American cartoonist Richard Felton Outcault in 1902 for his Buster Brown comic strip. She was based on Outcault’s daughter of the same name and wore little black shoes with a strap across the instep. When Outcault later licensed his characters to the Brown Shoe Company, the name stuck, and the shoe has been seen as a sort of sweet, childish style ever since.
Because they’ve been around for so long, mary janes are perennially in fashion but have a moment in the sun every so often. Now is one of those times. Labels from Miu Miu to Reformation have dropped their takes, and aficionados of the weird-girl and ballet-core aesthetics are finding inroads into the style as well — which now comes in so many varieties that even Mary Jane herself would be impressed.
Endless versatility wrapped in velvet (or Italian leather if you opt for the black pair).
The French Girl Go-to
Socks sold separately.
The Sport Mode
A fun new take on a classic design.
Cute but with some edge (literally).
The Satin Theater Shoe
A great WFH shoe that’s a little fancier than a slipper.
The Elevated House Slipper
What happens when a house slipper gets its wings.
The Concert Shoe
With a double strap, this sturdy pair could survive a mosh pit.
The ‘Life’s a Party’ Party Shoe
Wear them grocery shopping or to the office. Why not?
Alexa, play literally anything by Joy Division.
The creeper–ballet-flat crossover you didn’t know you needed.
The ’90s Throwback
Daria would approve.
The Sneaker Crossover
If you couldn’t get the Nike Air Rift Breathe shoes before they sold out, this is another solid option.
The Double-Strap Heel
To keep you extra snug.
The Picnic Shoe
Perfect for your next party in the park.
The Minimalist Dream
Leather like buuuuuuutter.
The Golden Ones
For tip-tapping down the sidewalk.
The Wide Fit
Almond toes aren’t the easiest on the feet, but this option comes with a wider set and a functional buckle for comfort.
So comfortable you’ll think you’re wearing socks.
A little height won’t hurt.
Just be patient when buckling.
The Suede Shoe
Buttery-soft suede, a padded footbed, and a comfortable one-inch heel — a win-win-win scenario.
This shoe looks way more expensive than it is.
All done up and everywhere to go.
Sans the actual fish.
The It Shoe
The one that started it all … again.
The Subtle Luxury Ones
This Spanish brand is known for its quality leather shoes, and these mary janes aren’t the exception.
Mary Jane is all grown up with a lot of disposable income.
The Warm-Weather Staple
Already planning your winter escape? Here’s the finishing touch to your full-linen Nancy Meyers rom-com look.