mary janes shoes
Image courtesy Net-a-Porter Pre-Fall 23 campaign

Mary Janes: How this classic design became the shoe of the season

21 Sep 2023 | Updated on: 22 Sep 2023 |By Hitanshi Kamdar

Put your best foot forward in this perenially chic silhouette

A trusted companion for little girls and grown women alike, is there any shoe as versatile as the iconic Mary Jane? We think not. Characterised by singular or multiple instep straps, the darling Mary Jane shoe silhouette is currently enjoying a particularly bright moment in the spotlight. Sales of Mary Janes have increased by 397 per cent on Net-a-Porter in the past year, while celebrity style icons like Bella Hadid and Sarah Jessica Parker have been spotted in the beloved silhouette. 

Named, somewhat incongruously, for the love interest of popular early-1900s cartoon character Buster Brown, for AW23 the preppy style plays into trending fashion aesthetics like balletcore while the sentimentality attached to wearing Mary Janes as a child adds to the silhouette’s nostalgia-fuelled popularity. As timeless as a pair of loafers or ballet flats, Mary Jane shoes stand out due to their endless variations. Whether you’re into flats, heels, platforms, or even sneakers, there’s a Mary Jane to suit your needs.

You may have grown up wearing standard black Mary Janes with your school uniform, but your grown-up wardrobe can reflect your style far better. From flats to chunky heels, we’ve curated an edit of the best Mary Jane shoes to buy now and love forever.

Miu Miu chain-strap Mary Jane pumps

You can’t mention Mary Janes without mentioning Miu Miu. While its ballet flats are iconic, we’re eyeing the Mary Jane pumps this season. Crafted in beige leather with a delicate chain-detailed instep strap, a pearl closure, and a contrasting toe-cap, these romantic block heels are perfect for a delicate date-night look.

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The Row Ava leather Mary Jane flats

The Row’s Ava Mary Jane flats are cult favourites for a reason. Crafted from buttery-soft black leather in Italy, the shoes feature a soft rounded square toe and a minimal buckled strap. Endlessly versatile, grab these fast as they tend to sell out quickly.

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Maison Margiela Tabi Mary Jane shoes

Add a high-fashion Japanese touch with Maison Margiela’s Tabi Mary Jane shoes. An iconic silhouette introduced in 1988, this forest green iteration features the signature split toe and a low block heel.

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Prada Mary Jane 55 leather pumps

Elegant and minimal, Prada’s Mary Jane pumps hold a timeless allure. A glossy grey leather upper is shaped into a pointed toe atop a block heel. Pair with a pleated skirt and a crisp white shirt for an elevated schoolgirl aesthetic.

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Etro embroidered Mary Jane pumps

Perfect for an autumn day spent walking amidst the orange foliage, Etro’s Mary Jane pumps are embroidered with an all-over floral pattern. With a comfortable platform heel, the black leather pumps feature a paisley insole and a chunky gold-tone buckle.

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Marni Pablo Mary Jane sneakers

If you prefer trainers over any other shoe, add Marni’s Mary Jane sneakers to your daily rotation. The blue leather designs feature a white toe-cap and chunky rubber sole. Pair with baggy jeans and a crop top for ultimate cool-girl points.

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Chloé Oli leather Mary Jane pumps

If the traditional Mary Jane silhouette isn’t for you, opt for Chloé’s Mary Jane pumps. Comfortable and striking, the black shoes feature pointed toes, crisscrossing straps and curved heels. Wear to the office, bar, and even weddings for a chic statement look.

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Christian Louboutin Miss Jane 55 leather pumps

One for the risk-takers, Christian Louboutin’s Miss Jane pumps are made from glossy red leather. With a rounded toe, curved heel, and double instep straps, these shoes are perfect for adding a magical Dorothy-esque touch to your outfit.

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Jimmy Choo Elisa 45 embellished Mary Jane pumps

Polished and formal, wear these black leather Jimmy Choo pumps to make a statement at work. The block-heeled Mary Jane pumps feature patent leather toe caps and straps along with faux pearl fastenings adorned with gold ‘JC’ lettering.

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Thom Browne brogued Mary Jane pumps

Thom Browne combines the timeless allure of the Mary Jane silhouette with another classic design mainstay: broguing. Crafted from black leather, these classic pumps feature cross-straps and are detailed with a perforated design. With a mid-block heel and signature Thom Browne striped pull-tab, they’re sure to be a favourite for seasons to come.

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Dr. Martens Addina platform Mary Janes

Blend in with the cool kids in Mary Jane Dr. Martens. Inspired by the brand’s Mary Jane silhouette from the 1980s, these platformed leather shoes are detailed with a flower-shaped buckle and signature yellow welt stitching. Take styling cues from Gen Z and pair with a maxi skirt.

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Karl Lagerfeld Strada Mary Jane sandals

Step into the Barbie-verse with Karl Lagerfeld’s Mary Jane sandals. The fuchsia pink platform pumps feature a satin finish square toe and are adorned with a logo pendant that guarantee they’ll be the centre of attention in any outfit.

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