For The Love of Mary Jane

When it comes to shoes, I’m sure you have heard of the Mary Janes.  You know the name, but do you know their fame?

Believe it or not, the Mary Jane shoe got their name from an old comic strip character.  Created by the “Father of the Sunday Comic Strip”, Richard Felton Outcault, in 1902, Mary Jane was the love interest of the title character in his comic Buster Brown, and drawn from inspiration of his daughter of the same name.  Like any smart entrepreneur, Outcault sold the use of his character, Buster Brown, to several companies for advertising products at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904.  One of the companies in the mix was the Brown Shoe Company, who became the most associated brand with the Buster Brown characters, as a result of promoting their products with traveling actors portraying the comic characters in stores and theaters.  The shoe style that Buster Brown and Mary Jane wore began to grow in popularity and was given the name, Mary Jane, which has stuck to this day.

Steampunk Tesia Mary Jane:

Steampunk Telsa Mary Jane

While Mary Janes are most commonly worn by children and women today, this was not always the case.  In fact, these shoes started out as a men’s fashion item, as reflected in old paintings, films, and photographs.  Men wore this stylish footwear during the Renaissance period (including royalty, such as kings) and in Imperial China.  Boys also joined in on the action in the 19th and 20th centuries and after World War II, in which they were worn by elite families’ kids like John F. Kennedy’s son and Prince William and Harry.  As time passed, Mary Janes shifted from male wear to strictly female use, primarily with young girls.  The classic style boasts use for more formal occasions like parties, weddings, recitals, and religious ceremonies among others.  They are also popular worldwide in girls’ schools where they can sometimes be a part of a uniform.  When it comes to modern style, their custom is a bit more casual and can be seen at shopping malls, playgrounds, and in sports.  The shoe also serves as a vital part of traditional or folk costumes.

Demon Mary Jane Platform Shoes:

Demon Mary Jane Platform Shoes

As styles have changed over the years, the Mary Jane is no exception.  The classic style, originally appearing in the 19th century, had a low heel with a wide toe and a strap over the instep fastened by a buckle or button.  The modern style has kept elements of the classic, but tends to be platform style with a ½ in.-1 in. outsole and a bigger heel with an exaggerated buckle.  The modern style bears resemblance to late 1990s and early 200s punk rock and doth subculture styles.  The Mary Janes may also be accompanied by knee high stockings or pantyhose and a pleated schoolgirl type skirt.

Whatever the season, whatever the reason, whatever the style, the Mary Janes will make you smile!  Yes, indeed!  They have proven to be a timeless treasure!  For Mary Janes and other shoes, take a perusal at:  www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

 

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