As a fully fledged mule obsessive, I have a blinkered approach to shoe shopping that often swerves me away from new styles. There’s something about the backless pairs that, for me, makes any outfit feel more pulled together (even if it is just jeans and a T-shirt). But recently, I’m going to admit I’ve felt the urge to cheat on my much-loved mule collection. This hasn’t happened since I kept thinking about the toecap YSL slingbacks that took over Instagram last year, and now my head has been turned for Mary Janes. Another thing I must admit (we’re all friends here) is that I’ve never really liked them before now.
They reminded me of the flat, often patent styles with the one buckled strap across the front that were worn with white frilly socks and a grey pinafore for preschool. I thought Mary Jane shoes were a thing of the past until I saw every fashion person on my feed wearing them. While a few have opted for flats, the thing that makes these feel fresh—and more importantly, suitable for grown-ups—is the heel. Be it chunky, platform or sleek, the heeled iterations get my vote. And what I love most about this nostalgic style is how versatile they are across all seasons. Whether you style them with socks (something I wouldn't recommend with my faithful mules) while it's still chilly or wear them with minidresses, skirts or shorts come spring/summer, no doubt Mary Janes are sticking around. Here are five ways to wear them throughout the year.
1. Mary Janes + Socks
Style Notes: Exhibit A showcasing how to wear socks and shoes: Anne-Victoire. The French girl with a penchant for clever layering proves that socks and Mary Janes are a cool-girl vibe when worn with sleek separates. And I'm now fully converted.
2. Mary Janes + Wide-Leg Trousers
Style Notes: Joining the strap gang, Valentino's mega platforms have a higher-up-the-ankle strap than most (to support that chunky heel), but they're certainly in Mary Jane territory. Tamu is ticking off multiple trends with this cut-out, colourful ensemble. And the shoes take it to dreamy new heights, quite literally.
3. Mary Janes + Minidress + Trench Coat
Style Notes: Flat Mary Janes will forever remind me of my preschool uniform. But they've come a long way since then. The Row, Maison Margiela and Miu Miu all approve, as does Alyssa as she swaps frilly white socks for plain ones and toughens up the look with a leather trench.
4. Mary Janes + Miniskirt + Shirt
Style Notes: Another French girl loving the return of the Mary Jane is Anne-Laure. The double- or triple-strap styles bring them right up to date, and when paired with a printed mini and tailored shirt, the whole look has that certain je ne sais quoi.
5. Mary Janes + Shorts
Style Notes: Time to introduce you to your future go-to summer uniform. While chunky Mary Janes are a favourite, sleek, minimalist styles are loved by the likes of Emmanuelle. For every upcoming warm-weather soirée, a shorts-and-shirt look with your now-favourite strap shoes will be your staple outfit. Trust me.
Next up, the 10 designer bags worth investing in.
Harriet Davey is a freelance fashion editor who has been part of Who What Wear's extended team since 2017. She previously worked in print at Look magazine and has since worked across print, digital and social for many other titles, including British Vogue, Stylist, Grazia, Refinery29 and Marie Claire. Also a stylist, Harriet has had the pleasure of producing cover shoots and editorials along with commercial shoots for brands including Boux Avenue, Watches of Switzerland, Benefit Cosmetics and Revolution. To add to this, Harriet also works in live TV styling for ITV’s This Morning.
Back to Who What Wear. With hundreds of published stories on site, Harriet knows what the WWW reader wants. Keeping up to date with the latest It buys and runway trends, she can guarantee to keep you one step ahead of the most stylish people.
When not writing or styling, Harriet loves to go shopping (yes, more fashion). If she’s not in a local Hackney bar or restaurant, you can find her forever searching for her next holiday destination.