10 Pairs of Nostalgic, Foot-Friendly Mary Janes
Meet the 411: Another ’90s shoe trend is back, so make room in your new shoe collection. big clogs and “Loafers inspired by “Meg Ryan” for a new pair. Enter, the Mary Jane, a shoe popularized by the fictional Cher Horowitz and the real Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others. The Mary Jane is a classic shoe that debuted as a closed-toe flat shoe with a buckled strap across the top of the foot. Picture a doll shoe (which is another name for the trend, BTW) and you’ve got the right idea.
While Mary Janes were originally a simple buckled flat shoe, they have long since grown with new details such as chunky doles, double straps and beautiful textiles, sometimes even a combination of all three. That’s why low-profile shoes are paired with everything from dresses and skirts to pants and jeans: they’re universal. But like more other fashionable shoes, their levels of fit and comfort are not.
The best Mary Janes, at a glance:
To ensure you add a pair of supportive MJs to your wardrobe this fall, a nationally renowned podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPMwhich is a Vionic Innovation Member, says to look for Mary Janes with cushion and arch support or, at the very least, enough room to accommodate a cushioned insole. “Avoid styles that appear tight, cramped, or stiff,” she says. With that in mind, she recommends avoiding pointy Mary Janes and instead opting for styles with a roomy round toe that matches the natural shape of your forefoot.
Sutera says to pay attention to the heel as well, noting that a low to moderate heel height (around 2.5 inches) is best if all-day comfort is the goal. “Mary Janes with adjustable straps and rubber soles tend to be the most comfortable,” she adds.
Finally, she says to look for Mary Janes with a flexible forefoot. “The shoe should bend in the forefoot to allow your foot to move normally as you walk,” she says. “Platform styles or Mary Janes with stiff soles that do not bend or flex throughout the gait cycle will block and limit the normal range of motion. These usually end up being uncomfortable after walking around in them for a bit.
Dr. Martens, 8065 Smooth Leather Mary Jane Shoes — $130.00
Sizes available: 5-11
Sold in black and white, Dr. Marten’s 8065 Smooth Leather Mary Jane Shoes are a timeless style worn on the runways and on the sidewalks. They’re moody, retro (considering it’s an 80s style that’s been revamped) and 100% trendy. Like all Docs, they should be worn to soften the leather and hug your feet. But once they’re broken in, they’re about as comfortable as they come.
Duck Feet, Lolland Mary Janes – $208.00
Sizes available: 5-12, in European sizes.
Sold in nine gorgeous colors, the Duckfeet Lolland Mary Janes are akin to Doc Martens in that they’re reinvented schoolyard classics that have been around for decades. While these shoes aren’t the best of an insole position – given that there’s no built-in arch support – they’re designed to be roomy and wide, so they can accommodate custom, store-bought inserts for tailored comfort. Bonus: they’re made entirely from eco-friendly materials, like natural rubber and Terracare leather, made with fewer resources than traditional leather.
Sam Edelman, Michaela Mary Jane Apartment — $130.00
Sizes available: 5-11, in half sizes.
Here we’ve got a classic baby doll shoe in a bunch of fun colors and textures, all featuring a padded leather insole for your tired tootsies. The tapered square toe gives the illusion of a spike while maintaining the comfort of that roomy toe box suggested by Dr. Sutera. As classic as the black patent option is, we can’t take our eyes off the deluxe velor colors that are perfect for cold winter temperatures, especially the warm velor Canyon Orange and Smokey Blue Steely.
Rothy’s, the Mary Jane scarf — $159.00
Sizes available: 5-13, in half sizes.
For a more relaxed silhouette, Rothy’s mesh style is a great option. Instead of a buckle, these soft shoes (sold in four colors) are designed with a stretchy strap that retains its shape even after being put on and taken off the feet. Beyond their flexible and comfortable silhouette, they’re made with a cushioned insole so you can wear them for hours without ending up with aches and pains. Best of all, they’re machine washable.
Naturalizer, Gen N Spark Mary Jane Pump – $150.00
Sizes available: 4-12, in half sizes.
While the Naturalizer Mary Jane pumps have a higher heel (3.25 inches) than Sutera normally suggests, their malleable “All-Ways Flex” platform in the forefoot aims to reduce the difference in height, making it a comfortable and stylish option. Especially if you have a more formal occasion, like a Christmas party or an in-person get-together (do we still do that?), they’ll look classy without killing your feet. Now the only question is, will you choose black leather or beige suede?
Dansko, Beatrice Mary Janes — $140.00
Sizes available: 6-12, in European sizes.
The Dansko Beatrice Mary Janes, which come in black and red leather, look like something you’d see in every direction at your local farmer’s market. They’re casual, comfy, and cute as can be, in that granola-y way that’s so on-trend for Fall 2022. And it’s not just the look, but the feel that stands out. They’re built with an EVA footbed infused with memory foam for cushioning and support, so you’ll be happy to wear them to your own farmer’s market, even when the line for the butternut squash is spooled up. Street corner.
Cole Haan, Bridge Mary Jane Ballet — $150.00
Sizes available: 7-11, in half sizes.
Love the look of a classic Mary Jane, but prefer a tapered square toe over a rounded toe? The Cole Haan Bridge Mary Jane Ballet is the timeless black patent leather silhouette you crave. Like the Same Edelman MJs, they have a semi-pointed design that is surprisingly roomy. Oh, and did we mention they’re made with foam arch support? Comfortable! Choose between a simple black print, a gold lizard or a fierce leopard print.
Circus by Sam Edelman, Kay Mary Jane Heel – $90.00
Sizes available: 6-10, in half sizes.
Ready to break out your Mary Janes for a night out on the town? Check out the Circus by Sam Edelman Kay Mary Jane Heel, which is sold in six colors. The vintage-inspired platform heel and forefoot make them way easier to wear all night than your normal pumps or even your little heels. That said, if you find heels of any kind disrupting your forefoot at some point during the night, do yourself a favor and outfit your GMs with some extra cushioning, like Dr. Scholl’s Ball of Foot Pads ($7) – they are absolutely a game changer
Asos Design, Sebi Chunky Mary Jane Heels – $46.00
Sizes available: 4-11
If you’re looking for a timeless-looking pair of Mary Janes that won’t drain your bank account, give these a try. Their round-toe black patent upper is absolutely classic with skirts, pants and dresses, while the low block heel and 1-inch forefoot platform give you just a little height. Since both platforms are sturdy and wide, they maintain optimum comfort when turned on. Oh yeah, and they’re only $46.
Clarks, Emslie Lulin Pump — $70.00
Sizes available: 5-12, in half sizes and three widths.
Likewise, this pair of Clarks is relatively affordable and lives up to the brand’s reputation of being durable and easy on the feet. The entire interior of the shoe is padded to prevent heel and toe blisters, and the insole is fitted with a cushioned, breathable OrthoLite sockliner, so you’ll feel stellar as you walk. The slight details catch the eye to give it a bit of punch, too, a chic twist to an otherwise minimalist look.
Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP products, custom collections, discounts and more? Sign up to receive the news straight to your inbox.
Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.