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Entries in mary-jane (13)


What I Actually Wore #0132

Serial #: 0132
Date: 11/07/2013
Weather: 16°C / 61°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

There are some colour combinations that are easy to choose, and never fail: black, red and blue is one of them.

This outfit was put together like building blocks, starting with the kimono-sleeved dress. It’s really a summer dress, so I put a three-quarter sleeve grey top underneath. This is the trick with adding a fourth colour – it would have been too much to choose a matching blue, but the grey is neutral and subtle.

Blue tights printed with white stars add a fun touch; a more obvious – and storybookish – pairing would have been black and white striped tights. Red Dorothy heels, current favourites, sparkle on my feet. They are actually not very comfortable as they are not leather, which is more yielding, but they look fabulous!

The red wool jacket adds warmth, but I also wore on top my 1960s faux sealskin coat, and a velvet close-fitting cap. My jewellery – black onyx bangle and ring, silver bauble earrings, charm necklace and silver watch complement the colour of the clothing.

I had my bangs trimmed that evening, and one of the salon staff exclaimed in delight when she took my coat and saw my outfit. I looked so cute, like a doll, she said. It has never been my ambition to look like a doll, I must confess; I’d rather look like a woman. In fact, in later years on one of my wardrobe culls, the dress, the tights and the shoes all fell victim to my ruthless dictum: anything that could be considered ‘cute’ was immediately cut! I still have the jacket and the jewellery however. The haircut is long grown out, but I’m considering growing my pixie into a bob again.


Dress: Luella
Sock Shop
souvenir and vintage
Bangle, ring:
Kenneth Cole

Photos: October 2013


Who are you Mary Jane?

Celebrating the Roaring Twenties in a Special Series

Multi-strap patent leather Mary Janes by WittnerThe classic shoe of the Roaring Twenties must be the Mary Jane. Not to be confused with the T-strap (which was introduced in 1922), the Mary Jane was a broad, comfortable shoe, with a single flat strap across the instep fastening with a button on the side. The original Mary Janes flappers donned, unlike the modern versions today, were low-heeled – one to two inches high only – the more comfortable to dance all night in.

Traditionally, the Mary Jane was a child’s shoe that was worn when a toddler took his or her first steps, and was in fact worn by boys and girls alike. Alice in Wonderland and Christopher Robin are two characters in children’s literature that wore them, and they can be seen even as far back as in Tudor paintings of the 16th century.

An innocent-seeming pair of suede flat Mary Janes, from Quick Brown Fox In 1902 a comic strip named Buster Brown about a group of mischievous children, including Buster’s sister Mary Jane, and his dog Tige, was published in the New York Herald newspaper. By 1904 the cartoon was so popular it lead the Brown Shoe Company to licence the characters and to take a troupe of costumed actors across America, visiting department and shoe stores. It was not until 1909 however that Mary Jane’s name was immortalised, when it was applied to single-strap children’s shoes. In the years following, the shoe gradually became associated solely with girls, and disappeared entirely from boys’ wardrobes. 

Flapper style was evoked by slender, boyish youthfulness, the quintessence of fashionable trends of the era, and the Mary Jane was adopted as the shoe of choice: Fashions of the 1920s deliberately rejected any hint of the matron, and the Mary Jane shoe, the most childish of shoe shapes, was a perfect foil for this fashion. [Vintage Shoes, by Caroline Cox, Carlton Books, 2008]

By the end of the decade however, Mary Jane shoes had become more sophisticated. Heels were higher and more tapered (particularly for evening) and they were constructed from more luxurious materials, with satins, brocades and hand-painted silks reserved for evening. The rest is history.

Read the history of Mary Janes in more detail, from Vintage Shoes, by Caroline Cox, Carlton Books, 2008
Comfortable Mary Jane shoes for dancing, from Vintage Shoes, by Caroline Cox, Carlton Books, 2008


What I Actually Wore #0060

Serial #: 0060
Date: 25/12/2011
Weather: forecast 29°
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

So often I build my outfits around my shoes. Sometimes the weather, but mostly the shoes or the hat. Christmas last year was no exception. I bought the red glittery Mary-Janes especially for the day. Of course I loved them anyway: red, glitter, 20s style, Wizard of Oz – need I say more?

So it was an easy decision to wear a white dress to truly offset the red shoes. I love the contrast of red and white together – such a joyous combination, probably because it makes me think of holidays and sunshine, and beaches. The dress is something I’ve had in storage for a while. I’d been thinking of selling it, but I decided to give it another go. It’s a kind of broderie anglaise or cutwork type of fabric, for there are tiny holes cut out in a grid-like pattern all over.

On the day, I proudly pulled out the red heels, only to find out the girl in the store had bagged the wrong pair! She had sold me a size too small! Naughtily I wore them anyway, for I wasn’t about to let her be the Grinch to spoil my Christmas. On Boxing Day I made sure the soles weren’t scratched or dirty and took them back to the store for a swap. The shoes weren’t a cheap purchase, but I have worn them countless times, and every single time I wear them, without fail, someone exclaims in delight at the sight of them. It’s always nice to bring a little bit of fashion happiness into other people’s lives too.


Dress: Jigsaw
silver baubles, eBay
Earrings: silver baubles, handmade
Ring: pearl ring, Autore
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Shoes: Zoe Wittner


Sparkly Shoes Make Everyone Happy

Dorothy Shoes On Sale! :: Watts // Big Up // No flashEeeeek! Look what I received in my inbox the day before yesterday! Wittner has introduced ‘Heel Steals’ – short-term sales on particular styles. Although I did not pay FULL price (club members receive discounts), I was quite chagrined to see my self-styled Dorothy ‘Jittery’ shoes slashed to $39.

However, as Cupcake, a work colleague, pointed out wisely, I have had them since December, and have many cherished moments of wear already. Hmm, I wore them on Christmas Day in the wrong size and had to take them off after an hour or two; they gave me such blisters on my toes on my birthday so I couldn’t dance a teensy bit … On the other hand, they give such delight to everyone else who sees them on my feet that pinched toes are consigned to the periphery.

…  they give such delight to everyone else who sees them on my feet that pinched toes are consigned to the periphery.

Plus, my friend Amy was so excited to hear of the discount she immediately joined the club expressly to purchase the silver pair. Now, sparkly shoes that bring so much happiness can’t be bad, right? Especially on sale.

Silver Heels for Amy :: Watts // Big Up // No flash


Princess Finds Lump of Coal in Stocking!

Dorothy Shoes: Side Elevation :: Watts // Big Up // No flashCan you believe it? I almost literally found a lump of coal in my stocking on Christmas morning. Everything was arranged and I was ready to go: the last item on the agenda was to put on my new glittery red Dorothy shoes.

I crammed my right foot in … and in one of those earth-shattering filmic moments was pulled up short. Something was not right. Had I switched places overnight with Cinderella’s sister? I was disbelieving for a moment and turned the shoe over. It was in fact the wrong size.

I turned the left over. It was also the wrong size.

Impotent rage seethed within me. On Thursday I had tried on my usual size, but found the shoes were a little short in length for me, and I asked the salesgirl for the next size up. She obliged, and asked me if they were better. “Much better,” I told her happily.

She returned a few minutes later and asked automatically, “Are you going to think about it?”

“No, I’m going to take them.”

She seemed surprised. Perhaps her usual clientele were not usually so decisive. But: Red. Glitter. Dorothy. Magic could happen in those shoes. How could I possibly say no?

Dorothy Shoes: Rear View :: Watts // BIg Up // No flash

Magic could happen in those shoes. How could I possibly say no? … Magic did happen. Black magic. 

Magic did happen. Black magic. That witch masquerading as my fairy godmother (to mix fairytales) pulled a switcheroo, and sold me the smaller shoes.

I wore them anyway, and beamed at the railway turnstile attendant’s grandiose compliments as I bravely hobbled through. Later on I accepted my family’s compliments through gritted teeth, and a couple of hours later the shoes were off. Fortunately I had taken a spare pair of shoes with me to travel home in.

The next day I cleaned up the shoes (not a mark on them) and promptly swapped the evil twins for a good pair. The moral of the tale: it’s Christmas, so don’t be naughty, be nice – at least until the salesgirl gives you the right pair of shoes. Then you can whack her upside the head with the wrong ones … what?