The Next Phase in the Mary Janes Trend? Doll-Like Slippers

Katie Holmes has co-signed the look (twice), and so have fashion editors.

a close up of velvet mary jane slippers with blue velvet fabric to illustrate the doll shoe trend
(Image credit: BFA)

When Mary Janes began trending on Chanel and Prada runways, each pair possessed a distinctly "back to school" vibe. With their dark leather and heavy-duty buckles, I categorized them as a "fall" shoe to replace with mesh flats or sandals as soon as temperatures started to rise.

I still see buckled leather Mary Janes all over street style with little white ankle socks and preppy, Tortured Poets-esque skirts. But when a shoe trend sticks around long enough, it starts to evolve. This spring, the Mary Janes that are rising in popularity have a more whimsical look. Instead of a collegiate nod, they're now lightweight, colorful slippers that could belong to an American Girl Doll.

Katie Holmes walks in Lower Manhattan wearing a pair of Vibi Mary Janes with a black slip dress

Katie Holmes has worn Vibi Venezia's Mary Janes twice this spring, in blueberry-tone velvet.

(Image credit: The Image Direct)

The footwear I interpret as a "doll shoe" is more accurately described as a Venetian flat. Traditionally, this style's uppers are made from velvet, canvas, or brocade, with soles repurposed from bicycle tires. They have the comfort and free-wheeling spirit of a vacation-y espadrille with the polish of a typical Mary Jane.

Minimalists can find linen and black versions, but the most exciting pairs come in jewel tones and florals with contrasting stitching. These aren't Mary Janes to wear while cramming for exams in a stuffy Oxford library or cosplaying as a character in The Secret History. They're for skipping down the sidewalk on a sunny afternoon in a Dôen sundress with a basket bag over one shoulder.

The brands behind the look aren't all new themselves. Labels like Vibi Venezia, Capulette, and Stevi Stefan make each pair by hand in Italy and have been doing so for decades. We're just catching up on their appeal stateside.

Who What Wear founder Hillary Kerr has vouched for a green Capulette pair in her newsletter, Hi Everyone, while Katie Holmes has worn her blueberry Vibi Venezia pair on back-to-back occasions this spring, a sign she really loves the style. After investing in a moss green pair of my own, they've become the only shoes I want to slide on in the morning (unless the color truly clashes with my outfit—and in that case, I'll change my clothes to keep them on).

a pair of brocade markarian x vibi venezia flats in front of flowers

On May 2, Vibi partnered with the New York City-based label Markarian on Mary Jane slippers with vintage brocade fabrics.

(Image credit: Markarian x Vibi Venezia)

A woman walks at New York Fashion Week wearing Mary Janes with embroidery

During New York Fashion Week, editors and insiders traded their leather Mary Janes for softer pairs coated in floral embroidery.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

U.S. designers are also catching on to the style's easygoing-yet-playful appeal. On Thursday, New York Fashion Week darling Markarian released a limited-edition capsule with Vibi Venezia that features sunny yellow floral pairs and matching dresses to go with them. Cool-girl label Attersee's Upper East Side showroom stocks pairs from a collaboration with Drogheria Crivellini, another made-in-Italy label.

More studious Mary Janes will always be there if you want them (I'm definitely hanging on to my old pairs). But colors and patterns in these next iterations feel like spring in shoe form. Wearing them, we're all basically Alice walking in Wonderland.

Shop the Mary Jane Trend's Next, Most Playful Form

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.