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Mary Jane’s Here to Stay

February 23, 2010

One shoe that just doesn’t go out of style is the Mary Jane high heel pump.  Come on, who hasn’t had a pair at some point in their life?  The history of the Mary Jane goes as far back as 1904, a character in a comic strip created by Richard Outcault.  If any of you ever remember the comic strip, Buster Brown, Mary Jane was the sister.  Buster Brown was first published in 1902.

In translation, Mary Jane refers to a shoe with a strap, or a sandal, usually with a round and enclosed toe.  The strap would go just over the instep and/or around the ankle.  The shoes were designed in leather with a flat or heel or high heel to later add style and flair.

Picture from Wikipedia at

“In 1904, Outcault traveled to the St. Louis World’s Fair and sold licenses to up to 200 companies to use the Buster Brown characters to advertise their products. Among them was the Brown Shoe Company, who later hired actors to tour the country, performing as the Buster Brown characters in theaters and stores. This strategy helped the Brown Shoe Company become the most prominently associated brand with the Buster Brown characters. The style of shoe both Buster Brown and Mary Jane wore came to be known by her name, Mary Jane.”

Today’s current styles features a 3 – 5 inch sexy high heel, modestly equipped with a 1/2 inch – 1 inch platform, with the signature strap across the instep.  Colors are ranging from solid colors to two-tones, which I find add appeal, style and a unique glamour.

My research included such famous people for wearing the pop-cultural shoes have graced the entertainment industry in being worn by such individuals such as Fergie, which she wore a pair in her debut album.  Eleanor who stars in the hit “The Chipmunks,” also sported a pair, and that dude in “Saw,”  Billy the Puppet was notably seen cycling around. 


Even though tradition states that the Mary Jane shoes are generally worn by young girls, it tries to point out that older women who wear them are informally worn, when in fact, styles today make them genuinely appealing to women of all ages, basically getting away from tradition.

Designers such as Doc Marten have tended to not so much redesign too much in order to maintain the originality of the Mary Jane, in keeping with its casual comfort.

The price, today, of the Mary Jane, depending on which style you’d prefer can start from as low as $15 and go as high as $380…again, it depends on your style preference.  As for me, I’m a 4 – 5 inch gal, only because I’m short, and I love a good pair of high heels.

Mary Jane was my very first pair of high heels that my mom gave me.  They were like a burnt sienna kind-of color, with the signature heel across the instep, and the heel was about 3 1/2 inch or so, and I was about 15 or so at the time, so you know I wore them well.  Every since I’ve always been drawn to the Mary Jane.  Even more now as the styles have evolved, but never getting away from who they are, as designers are doing a slam-dunk job in keeping the uniqueness in full check.

Where can you find them?  Pleaser USA,; sometimes Fredericks of Hollywood will carry them, and you may luck up on a pair at

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