Whenever I get invited to a party requiring cocktail attire, I immediately start conjuring up outfit ideas in my head, all of which will involve wearing high heels — be it in the form of mules, slingbacks, or strappy sandals. Although stilettos look amazing in photos, an Instagram post isn’t worth what uncomfortable shoes will do to my feet all night. They’ll make my toes throb in pain from standing for most of the party; I’ll get blisters on the walk to and from the subway. (One of the many harsh realities of living in New York: You’ll probably have to hoof it at least one way to a get-together.) So, lately, when it comes time to actually get dressed for the evening, I’ll opt for a more sensible — but equally pretty — option: Mary Jane dress shoes.
Admittedly, I used to associate the classic footwear with fictional school girls like Madeline and Eloise. But since the style became a fashion-girl favorite this last year (Zoë Kravitz has been spotted more than a few times in The Row’s “Ava” Mary Janes), there are now a number of fancy “grown up” takes on the design that are both party-ready and foot-friendly — picture pairs with special details like pearl accents, patent finishes, rhinestones, and velvet.
Aside from the practicality of festive ankle-strap flats, Mary Janes are also extremely versatile shoes. I’ve paired my red patent leather style from Carel with a suit and countless mini dresses, but I’ve also worn them with jeans and trousers during the day. The bedazzled Miu Miu pair I’ve been eyeing would also fit into similar night out and casual outfit formulations.
Ahead, shop 10 options you can wear for what’s left of party season and beyond.