The History of the Mary Jane

The History of the Mary Jane

The Mary Jane shoe. Where would Livie & Luca be without her? She’s highly adaptable, perfectly practical and oh so sweet. Her trademark is the ‘bar’ or strap that goes over the top of the foot and was traditionally fastened with a buckle or button. Now we have velcro which makes the MJ even more of a winner.

Where did she come from?

Before there were 'Mary Janes', they were called ‘bar’ shoes and were worn by children in the late 19th and early 20th century. Surprisingly, they were worn more commonly by boys than girls.

In 1904, bar shoes became known as Mary Janes when the Brown Shoe Company of Missouri named their bar shoes after the mischievous cartoon character Buster Brown and his sweetheart Mary Jane.

The Brown Shoe Company realized the marketing benefits of commercially associating themselves with ‘Buster Brown’ and paid $200 to cartoonist R.F. Outcoult for licensing rights. They also bought the rights for Buster’s sweetheart Mary Jane, whose character was based on the cartoonist’s daughter of the same name!

Mary Janes continued to be popularized throughout the 20th Century & here are some fun fashion facts:

  • They were a common pairing with the 1920’s flapper dresses.
  • In 1934, a young Shirley Temple wore white Mary Janes in the movie “Baby Takes a Bow”.
  • In the 1960’s, designer Mary Quant put model Twiggy in a pair, thereafter making them a fashion staple not only for kids but for women too.

So why are most of our girl’s shoes Mary Janes?

Mitzi Rivas, co-owner of Livie & Luca, says, “We love our Mary Janes. It’s our top performing silhouette and it’s because it’s so versatile and timeless. You can dress it up or down. The Velcro allows kids to take them on and off by themselves and our Mary Janes are incredibly durable.”

Check out some of our favorite Mary Janes this season -- easy to see that it’s a cute, practical style made to last!