The first time they reentered my life was about a year ago. On Instagram. And on the feet of my very stylish friend Laurel Pantin. I figured they were probably some insanely expensive, out-of-reach interpretation, but I DMed her anyway: What are those cute Chinatown Mary Janes?? “Pearl River Mart! $16!” she wrote back. I immediately had an after-work mission. I picked up two pairs.
If you, like me, wore these back in the ’90s (my earlier version had an embroidered rose on top), you’ll be happy to know that not a lot has changed: The pop-can-top fastener is still kind of rickety, they still offer negative arch support (though its slipper-like-ness allows you to walk around somewhat more elegantly, I think), and they still, reliably, add an instant retro-grungy coolness to any outfit. What has been updated, at least with the style they sell at Pearl River (and here on Amazon for a couple more bucks), is the base, which now comes in black. (They also come in some flax colors, which takes them more in an Eileen Fisher direction.)
So when I dusted them off and wore them into the office a few weeks ago, naturally associate editor Katy Schneider was like, “Where did you get those?” And the first rule of shamelessly copying someone is to be very helpful in letting others do the same. She picked up a pair after work that day. Then, it seemed, so did a lot of people. A friend of Katy’s got a pair in navy silk. My friend Liz went for velvety red. The Mary Jane daisy chain had begun. We have spotted what appears to be a fancier take on Joana Avillez. And Maryam Nassir Zadeh offers a $386 option. To those pricier iterations, I will tell you to buy the $20 real deal — the cost per wear simply cannot be beat. And direct your friends to do the same when they invariably ask.
Merrell Hambleton first told us about these supercomfortable sandals, which are more comfortable than even flats: “Here’s why they’re perfect: The broad, elastic straps cover just enough of your feet to make them look trim and minimize any ‘side squish.’ Four of your five toes and just a hint of ‘toe cleavage’ (this is a terrible term, but trust me, it’s desirable) peek out at the front. Walk in them. Run in them. Never take a cab again in them — they really do feel like sneakers. You will get compliments on these shoes, and the compliments will be from well-dressed strangers. From time to time, you will see a particular type of arty, sophisticated young woman (usually in Greenpoint) wearing them, too. Did I mention they are $100?”
These lighter-than-air EVA Birkenstock sandals are easier to clean and perfect Instagram bait, as writer Alison Freer discovered: “They are wildly flexible and far easier to clean than the classic cork-footbed versions — just hose them off and you’re good to go. Unlike most plastic shoes, there aren’t any sharp edges or seams to cut into your feet, and they weigh next to nothing — making them both light on your feet and a dream to pack for travel. (I put them on Instagram, and they blew up about as much as any picture I’ve posted: 229 likes and 46 comments.)”
Associate editor Katy Schneider proclaimed her love for these summer sandals during Feet Week: “There are really only two things that need to be said about these St. Louis–manufactured sandals that were originally made for children: (1) They’re $40, and (2) I don’t think they’ll ever go out of style. I really believe that! And you should trust me because I am a slave to trends.”