Mary Janes, also called bar shoes, are simple, flat-soled shoes with bars, or straps, across the instep that fasten with a buckle or button, and, for more recent styles, with Velcro. A common style of children's shoe since before the twentieth century, Mary Janes became popular among women in the late twentieth century.
Bar shoes became known as Mary Janes after the Brown Shoe Company of Missouri began marketing the shoes named after the popular cartoon character Buster Brown and his sister Mary Jane in 1904. While Mary Janes have remained popular young girls' footwear, adult women began to wear them in the 1960s. In the early twenty-first century, chunky, thick-soled styles of Mary Janes made by Simple Shoes of California were worn by trendy young women, while more delicate designs made of supple leather and thin, feminine bars were worn by some women for work and casual wear. Historically made of black leather, by the twenty-first century Mary Janes came in a variety of colors, some with embroidery and patterns.
"Our History." Brown Shoe Company. http://www.brownshoe.com/history/index.asp (accessed on August 27, 2003).