When I think of Mary Jane shoes I think of a funny family story involving my sister. She couldn’t have been older than three or four years old. My great-great aunt Nan complimented my her shoes and said, “Those are lovely mary janes you have on, Beth.” My sister’s response, “They’re not Mary Jane’s, they’re mine!” Just imagine how funny that would be coming out of a three year old’s mouth. My mother told me that story still makes her smile.
I love that story too, more than I love mary jane shoes. I’ll admit, I’m not a fan them. However, I realize that many women love mary janes and even more women choose them because they’re practical due the strap across the instep that secures the shoes in place. I certainly don’t blog about what I like exclusively. If I did I would never feature black, everything would be styled with a cognac handbag and every outfit would look like something Claire Underwood would wear. Therefore, in today’s accessorizing post it’s all about how to wear mary jane shoes.
What to look for in mary jane shoes
Mary Janes for wide feet
If you have wide feet mary janes can make your feet look wider because of the horizontal strap that lays across the instep. Horizontal lines widen any part of the body where they are placed, including feet. If you feel like your feet look exceptionally wide, either avoid mary janes or look for straps that run on a diagonal. Diagonal lines have a slimming effect.
Grown up mary janes
Mary jane shoes can look juvenile even on the most sophisticated of women. To avoid looking like you are five years old, or like you are Alice going to a tea party, avoid mary jane shoes that are too kiddie looking in style. Flat mary jane shoes often look childlike as do styles with very rounded toes and clunky heels. This is not to say you can’t wear styles like this, however, when you do, it is important to think about the sophistication level of the rest of your outfit when you do.
Alternatively, you can also look for more grown up mary jane shoes, like heeled mary janes, mary janes with pointier toes, sleeker styles and styles that don’t look like they are made for children funkier pairs that are more edgy than juvenile. For women who needs the strap across the instep but don’t want to look like they are headed to daycare instead work, considering the maturity level of the mary jane shoe style is important.
How to look less childish in mary jane shoes
As I said earlier, to not look like you are a child in mary jane shoes, consider the rest of your outfit. A sweet, frilly and girly outfit worn with mary janes can make you look like a kid whereas a more sophisticated and grown up look can balance out all the sweetness and childlike qualities of these shoes. Unless you want to look young, girly and frilly, keep the outfits you wear with mary janes more sleek and streamlined. No fluffy pink, no ruffles, and no super girly dresses.
Using this pair of burgundy mary jane shoes from Sofft I am going to show you how to look like a grown up in mary janes. I chose these particular shoes for a few reasons. First, many women choose mary janes for comfort. Sofft is a comfort brand. Despite the heels, these shoes are comfortable. Secondly, I chose them because they are not too girly, they are more grown up looking. Lastly, I chose them because they are in the red family, a color that many women love in a pair of shoes but don’t know how to wear a variety of ways.
How to wear mary jane shoes
Mary jane shoes have a bit of a 40’s retro feel to them. In this outfit I played on this with clean silhouettes and styled the shoes with a pair of black wide leg pants from Alice + Olivia. Next, I added a grey eShakti knit top, that has a defined waist shape, and belted it with a black stretch contour belt to really play up that retro silhouette. To finish the outfit I added a Stella & Dot necklace, gold bangles, modern coat from Reiss and burgundy work tote from Tory Burch.
These shoes can work well with a dress. To avoid looking too young, choose a dress that isn’t too girly or frilly. In this outfit, I chose a simple tan dress from Modcloth and used it as a base to add some interesting color. Teal and burgundy work beautifully together and bounced off the base of the tan dress is even richer and more gorgeous. The outfit is styled with a Bauble Bar necklace, a burgundy scarf and teal handbag from Big Buddha.
If you’re wondering what tights to wear with this dress, I would go for the richest and darkest shade of brown you can find. You might be able to find a burgundy pair of tights. If you can’t find them, a red based dark brown should suffice.
Being a lover of the color camel, burgundy and camel is a favorite color combination of mine. In this work casual or dressy weekend look, I added the mary janes to this outfit consisting of a grey tweed skirt from Boden, J. Crew cashmere turtleneck, Ivanka Trump faux leather moto jacket in cognac, burgundy Kendra Scott earrings and cognac bag from Jessica Simpson. Heeled mary janes typically look better with shorter skirts, like in this look. If you want to add tights to this outfit go with a very dark brown.
Try your mary jane shoes with jeans. In this outfit, the “classic with a twist” look is styled with a pair of boyfriend jeans, a crisp white Trina turk shirt and tweed blazer. Around the waist I added a Lafayette 148 obi belt and finished the look with an Anthropologie pendant necklace and plum bag from Modcloth.
This outfit has me actually not hating mary janes.
Unless it is a really dressy pair of shoes, mary janes aren’t for formal attire. However, you might be able to get away with a pair like the Sofft pair I am featuring if jazz up the rest of the outfit, like how I accessorized this basic navy Reiss dress. I added a statement necklace from Stella & Dot, gold bangle bracelet and colorful clutch. Now the outfit looks dressy without the shoes looking too out of place.
Shop for mary jane shoes
If this post makes you want a pair, or if you love this shoe style, check out these other mary janes below.
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Thanks for including hosiery advice with the appropriate outfits!
You’re very welcome!! I hope it helped!
I’m not normally one for Mary Janes either, but I’d definitely use those burgandy beauties for work in Autumn.
I am glad to hear it. Yea, I went into this post a bit of a mary jane hater, but once I styled the looks they started to grow on me.
Oh, my – those Anthropologie ones are crazy, wonderful!
Aren’t they nutty? I can see pulling them off with a very understated outfit. Speaking of crazy shoes. Did you ever see these? http://www.modcloth.com/shop/shoes-heels/when-in-gnome-heel Now those are CRAZY
Haha, okay, those are just weird, lol. I tend to be very basic in my wardrobe but I love the impact a great shoe can have.
Hi! Just found your blog and I completely adore it! How ever did you add those nifty plus signs on the clothing? Everything looks so adorable!
Oh sweet. Thanks! Those plusses are a feature powered by a company I use with my blog to create lookbooks, my online boutique, etc. called RewardStyle.
It’s pretty sad state of affairs when sensible shoes are seen as childish or juvenile and heeled shoes that destroy your body are considered grown up.
If you ask me, it’s far more juvenile to ruin your body for the sake of fashion.
So you’re saying the only sensible shoes in the world are Mary Janes?