What to Wear With Mary Jane Shoes

What Are Mary Janes?

Mary Jane shoes are an American-origin shoe that generally features a rounded toe and a school girl-like strap just below the ankle. They are traditionally made with a low heel and of black patent leather. Mary Jane shoes will be a staple for this season, so learning how to wear them is a must!

A Brief History of Mary Jane Shoes

Mary Jane was originally a comic character developed by Richard Outcault from his comic strip "Buster Brown". Mary Jane played the sister of Buster Brown, which was first published in 1902. In 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair, Outcault sold licenses to companies to use the Buster Brown characters. The Brown Shoe Company was one of them, and used the characters to promote their shoe brand. The shoe style that Mary Jane wore came to be known by her name!


The Modern Mary Jane

The mary jane shoe trend that is hot today, is quite different from the original. The front is no longer so rounded, after all the pointier the shoe, the more flattering for the legs. Also, shoe designers now use a variety of colors to make Mary Janes, no longer reserved just for black. The biggest difference I notice though, are the heel heights. The Mary Jane shoes of today are standing at staggering heights! These are no longer little girl shoes!

All in all, they still capture the essence of the Mary Jane.

At Right: Christian Louboutin Mary Janes


How to Wear Mary Janes?!

Lately, I've been asked by quite a few fashion-challenged gals on how to wear a Mary Jane shoe. I think it's because the mary jane shoes are making a major comeback this season! And it's actually extremely simple. Mary Janes go best with skirts and dresses. Any type will do, but if you want to up the sex factor (since Mary Janes look uber-innocent) pair them with tighter or shorter skirts/dresses. Opt for A-Line and pencil skirts.

Read these style tips and peruse these celebrity looks for your own ideas!

With a Dress: Wearing patent Mary Janes with an evening dress/cocktail dress is the simplest way to go. Just throw on a gorgeous colored dress and black mary janes. If the dress is black, PLEASE opt for colored Mary Janes. I hate washed out outfits.

Go Bold: Try colored Mary Janes with a colored dress like Taylor Swift. I love the contrast of two bright colors. The look is fresh and very spring!

With a Skirt: Don't go too high, just go a bit tight. Pencil skirts are my favorite things to wear with my Mary Janes. It's extremely flattering and sexy.

Go Bold: Try Mary Janes with high socks. The look will be a little kitsch but super stylish and sexy!

With Shorts: Wearing Mary Janes with shorts is completely possible. If it's an evening look, make sure the shorts are evening like. (No jeans!) Keep the shoes fairly simple and don't wear a revealing top! Long sleeves are best paired with short shorts.

Go Bold: Try a patterned mary jane shoe. After all, don't you want attention at your feet?

With Pants: If the pants are long and flared, the shoes are difficult to see, which obscures the whole point of wearing them! Wear skinny pants in an unexpected color. Try khaki or white. It'll look uber-chic when done correctly. Remember, if the pants are super skinny, keep the top somewhat flow-y to balance out your look.

Go Bold: Try colored pants with black mary janes! Yes, it's a risk, but with a black or neutral colored top, it'll look very balanced and chic.

Make it flattering!

Many women have expressed their concerns about the Mary Jane shoe. They wonder if the strap will make their ankles or legs look thicker. The trick here is to remember these simple rules for mary jane shoe shopping:

1. Keep the strap thin. A thick strap will very well cut off the leg line! Keep it under 1 cm.

2. Keep the strap low. Make sure the strap isn't close to the ankle. (Look at how low Megan Good's strap is- picture below)

3. Keep it pointy. The pointier the shoe, the more lengthened you will look. Now, one of the most essential aspects of a mary jane is the rounded toe. However, the modern mary janes today now feature pointier toes!

Megan Good LOVES her YSL Mary Janes!

Megan Good
Megan Good

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Ebower profile image

Ebower 5 years ago from Georgia

I love those celebrity looks with mary janes! Thanks for the fashionable tips.

yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 5 years ago from California Author

Ebower: You're welcome! I'm so glad Mary Janes are back.

steve 4 years ago

I love my mj's. I wear my black doc's with white anklets and jeans.

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