Let Us Now Praise Mary Janes

Everyone has a few items in their closet that seem to be magical.

You know, the sweater that’s sexy, comfy, and sophisticated all at once, the black pants that make your butt look like J.Lo’s.

One of mine is a pair of Marni mary janes.

In fact they are the Platonic ideal of mary janes: brown leather with white trim, a nice wide strap with a button on the side, and lined with girlish lilac leather. The moment I saw them in a Vogue editorial spread about five years ago, I knew I had to have them, no matter the cost—and thanks to my desk job, I could afford to splurge now and then. I tracked them down on a designer website and about two days and $500 later, they arrived at my door. I immediately slit open the cardboard to reveal a sleek black shoebox invitingly tied up with ribbons. Nestled inside were the shoes, which I quickly inspected to check for any disappointing details—a badly proportioned heel or some unnecessary, distracting adornment that didn’t show up in the photos—but no, they were just as they looked in the magazine. I tried them on immediately, praying that they would be true to size so I wouldn’t have to return them and delay my gratification. They were perfect—and most important, perfect for me and my urban-feminine style.

It’s the most I’ve ever spent on shoes, but I have never once regretted it. They go with practically everything and are always
appropriate. I’ve worn them to weddings, to job interviews, to cheer myself up. And despite their prim silhouette and lack of obvious sex appeal, they always attract attention—even from straight guys (it’s probably the schoolgirl connotations). I still remember the time I was wearing them and ran into a friend out pushing his son in a stroller. His eyes traveled down and he reared back.

“Wow!” he said admiringly. “Those are some amazing shoes.”

The high-paying job is long gone and such lavish treats are rarer these days, but the shoes are still a mainstay in my wardrobe and look as au courant as the day I first laid eyes on them. Not bad for a style that’s been around for over 100 years in some form or another.


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