You might recall your elementary school days when your parents sent you to school in a pair of black Mary Janes. But, the iconic silhouette has been around long before even that. In fact, Queen Elizabeth wore them as a child as well in 1930 — making them royal-approved. Indeed, the classic shoe style has been a staple of school children for almost 100 years. Today, both luxury fashion houses and newer emerging labels have helped to dust off the Mary Jane shoe — closed-toed with the signature thin strap — and bring it back into popularity for a wider range of ages.
“Within the cycles of fashion, I think there are always classic, timeless styles that are reintroduced and become trends or trendy in the moment,” Nicole Saldaña, designer and founder of Nicole Saldaña, tells TZR. “Sometimes a small update or variations on a classic make it more understandable for the current aesthetic or vibe. Thus, making the style feel new again.” Saldaña’s two versions of the shoe — the Fabiana and the newest addition to the family, the Isabel — are designed as modern takes on the schoolgirl silhouette. The New York-based shoe designer believes the Mary Jane is a style that will remain a favorite across generations and subcultures for years to come.
When Julia Toledano, founder of Nodaleto created her label two years ago, the biggest shoe trends revolved around sneakers and other casual styles. “We were far away from a classic shoe trend, and really not [seeing a] Mary Jane,” she tells TZR. “This is also why I designed a very special Mary Jane — I was looking everywhere and I was frustrated not finding a cool one, it was always so classic.” Toledano gave the brand’s signature style, the Bulla Babies, an architectural approach with its cool chunky heel and platform silhouette.
Another reason for the silhouette’s current popularity could be because of its versatility, according to Elyce Arons, Co-Founder and CEO of Frances Valentine. “They can effortlessly be paired with so many different types of outfits — dresses, skirts, and pants — and in both casual and dressy looks,” she tells TZR of their year-round appeal. Wear them alone in the summer, and once fall rolls around, layer a pair of toasty socks under the shoe.
For styling ideas, below, find how influencers are wearing their Mary Jane shoes. And, consider giving your sandals a day off this summer and opt for this trendy style.
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Modern Mary Jane
Some of the Mary Jane styles on the market today look especially modern thanks to a sculptural approach. Accessory brand Justine Clenquet’s Kate Black Patent Leather Mary Janes feature a cool chunky heel and square toe. Take notes from influencer Alyssa Coscarelli and couple the shoe with a romantic puff-sleeve dress for an elevated dinner ensemble.
Bold Color Palette
If you’re eager to wear your Mary Janes all summer, consider picking up a silk pair in a soft pastel hue. For a standout ensemble, try coupling the shoe with bold shades throughout your look.
Instead of a classic patent black style, go for an unexpected statement print, like Suzanne Rae’s plaid Vichy Closed Mary Jane. Go to town with the look by incorporating lots of pastels and quirky staples, such as a tie and multiple hair accessories.
Pop Of Color
A little white dress is a must-have come summer. So if you’re looking for a way to spruce up the simple piece, consider coupling it with a striking red pair of Mary Janes. For the rest of your accessories, stick to a neutral color palette to allow the shoes to shine.
To give your high heel Mary Janes a casual feel, opt for relaxed denim Bermuda shorts or denim cutoffs. The two pieces perfectly balance one another out.
Add Some Edge
New York-based brand Shop Pêche’s Noma Mary Janes have a cool, slightly grungy flair to them with their chunky silhouette. Therefore, the shoes are ideal for grounding a ladylike blouse or dress. Or if you’re feeling a bit edgy, wear the shoes with leather Bermuda shorts.
Channel The ‘90s
Into the ‘90s resurgence? Go all in by pairing your Mary Janes with other prominent styles from the decade, like a mini skirt, fitted tee, and hair scrunchie. Keep the aesthetic from getting too nostalgic by keeping the color palette streamlined.
Transition Into Fall
It’s never too early to start thinking about fall fashion. When it jacket weather once again, style the nostalgic shoes with a cool leather bomber jacket. And, don’t feel like you need to tuck away your white jeans after Labor day — keep them around for a bit longer.
Work Of Art
Couple your architectural Mary Janes with a funky abstract print, such as an eye-catching floral. To keep the looking from straying too over the top, finish off with basic neutral separates.