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MJ and her lil' sis

Designer Mary Janes can run hundreds -- many hundreds. But $20 can get you the look.

December 02, 2007|Melissa Magsaysay | Times Staff Writer

The Mary Jane is all grown up. The classically sweet shoe, named after Buster Brown's sister in the popular 1902 comic strip, has gotten a sexy makeover. The toes have gone from prim and round to sexy and pointed, and the heels have grown from low and square to high and spiked.

Some of the best new Mary Janes are coming from the likes of Chanel, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. So, of course, that means the shoe that you wore in toddlerhood is now deep into three-figure territory. But you don't have to blow next year's shoe budget to get the look. Nine West, Forever 21 and even Payless have designs on the sexy Mary Jane too. And they look strikingly like the originals.

The trend hit its stride last fall with Miu Miu's patent leather, dominatrix Mary Jane, with not one, but two, straps. This season, the straps multiplied. Chanel's Mary Jane wedge, a celeb favorite, has several crisscrossing straps, making it resemble a Victorian bootie. It is a breathtaking $750.

A less treacherous and more affordable choice is Bettye Muller's pointed-toe Mary Jane with a lower stacked heel for $495. Payless' $19.99 version has all the same features except with a kitten heel, which makes the shoe less retro than Muller's chunky 1960s style.

Jimmy Choo also pays homage to the 1960s with the Cedar shoe, a patent-leather Mary Jane with a thick strap and round gold buckle, for $680. But as usual, Forever 21 is hot on the heels of this trend and has a style called the Kayla pump that has an almost identical round gold buckle and thick strap -- the only difference is that this heel is a heavy stack, compared with the Cedar's slimmer, more grown-up stiletto. But for $20.80, the Kayla would do the trick.

For a party, Louis Vuitton's $855, two-tone satin Emily is glam. But the Vasca by Nine West bears a striking resemblance, down to the fun color combinations, and is just $59.99. The Emily comes in paler colors such as ballet pink and light lavender, and the Vasca in jewel tones such as navy blue and emerald green, which are more wearable during the winter months.

A few styling tips: When wearing Mary Janes with tights, black is best. With the strap crossing the top of the foot, a colored stocking could look clown-like. Try them with wide-legged trousers or cropped cigarette pants, pencil skirts and shift dresses. And please, act your age. Don't pair Mary Janes with full skirts or baby-doll dresses. One juvenile fashion trend at a time.

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melissa.magsaysay@latimes.com

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