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Mary Janes are spring's 'It' shoe — podiatrists tell us how to comfortably wear them all day long

Mary Jane shoes aren't terrible for your feet if you follow these expert-approved tips.

model wearing shiny silver mary jane flats
These Mary Janes are way too pretty to take off! (DSW)

When it comes to 2024 fashion trends, one shoe reigns supreme: Mary Janes. The timelessly chic style is truly having a moment right now and it's easy to see why. They're cute, they're versatile and they come in a dizzying array of styles to pair with every outfit. Plus, who doesn't love that signature strap that separates Mary Jane shoes from the rest of the pack? It's a basic shoe that every wardrobe needs — except for comfort.

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"A lot of Mary Janes lack arch support which ... can throw your ankle out of alignment. This affects your knees, hips and back," explains New York-based podiatric surgeon Hillary Brenner, DPM. While the strap does offer a little more stability than regular ballet flats, Brenner notes that it can rub against bony prominences and trap swelling at the top of the foot.

But you don't have to give up on your Mary Jane-wearing dreams! New York-based podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, approves of the shoe — as long as you switch it up. "Mary Janes can be a nice shoe as part of a shoe wardrobe, but I urge patients to have several styles and pairs of shoes that can be rotated and switched up throughout the week," she explains. "Wearing the same shoes every day and all day tends to cause pain and overuse injuries over time."

How to find comfortable Mary Janes

As with all shoes, not every Mary Jane is created equal — especially for comfort and arch support. One way to check if the shoe is going to be supportive is the classic bend-and-twist test. "You shouldn't be able to bend the shoe in half or completely twist the shoe," explains Sutera. "If you can, then the shoe isn't supportive enough.

The most important thing when shopping for comfortable Mary Janes? Wearing the proper size. "A tight fit can cause pain and foot issues like blisters, ingrown nails and pinched nerves," warns Sutera. "It may also worsen conditions like hammertoe and bunions."

There are supportive and comfortable versions of this stylish flat to be found — including two favorites of Sutera and Brenner. Here are some of our favorites.

Color options: Black, Camel

Strap style: Single buckle strap

Material: Leather

This pair of podiatrist-approved Mary Jane flats are a favorite of Sutera's because they come with a cushioned insole and arch support. With a deep heel for stability and a flexible square toe, they're secretly way more comfortable than they look. 

$130 at Vionic

Color options: Black Smooth, Black Virginia

Strap style: Double T-strap

Material: Leather

These classic Doc Martens are such a fun and classically edgy addition to your closet. "The thick arch and wide chunky heel of these Docs help with support and shock absorption," explains Brenner. Plus, the two adjustable straps can give you wiggle room if you're wearing thicker socks.

$140 at Nordstrom

Color options: Black, Black Patent, Soft Silver, Bright White, Nature Mist, Bleached Beachwood, Blue Stone, Raspberry Mauve, Modern Ivory

Strap style: Single buckle strap

Material: Leather

If you're searching for that classic and simple Mary Jane style, you can't do better than this Sam Edelman pair. The polished leather, gold buckle and soft square toe are peak fashion. Nordstrom shoppers are also obsessed with them, praising the quality, durability, comfort level and, of course, the style. 

$130 at Nordstrom

Color options: Silver Metallic, Black

Strap style: Single buckle strap

Material: Synthetic

Want something bolder than a high-shine red? Try this silver pair. They punch up slacks and add a bit of edge to dresses — or pair them with jeans and a white tee for the chic weekend look. 

According to reviews, they're also surprisingly comfortable! One shopper said they were able to walk all day, thanks to the small sole and cushioned insole: "I brought them to a New York day trip and they looked great with jeans and leather coat. They also went well with a maxi skirt for work!"

$60 at DSW

Up the comfort level with some accessories

Yes, comfortable and podiatrist-approved Mary Jane flats do exist, but what if you want a thin and unsupportive pair that doesn't pass the bend-and-twist test in the name of fashion? We get it! The good news is that there are a few expert ways to make those less-supportive Mary Janes work without destroying your feet — like shoe inserts.

For inserts, Brenner recommends sizing up by one shoe size to accommodate the extra space needed for a proper fit. "Try to go shoe shopping in the middle of the day or towards the end of the day," she continues. "Because of the swelling, this means that your feet are more true-to-size."

The current top-selling shoe insert on Amazon, these little foot saviors feature three layers of foam and cushioning to keep feet cool, comfortable and sturdy in a variety of situations. 

"I'm required to wear the most uncomfortable flattest Vans for my job," starts one five-star Amazon reviewer. "I was prepared to quit because of how much my joints and feet were killing me before I tried these. The first day wearing them I almost felt more pain, but my foot molded to the insert quickly and now I’m pain-free. It’s been over three months since purchase and I haven’t had to buy a new set yet but I will in the future!"

$20 at Amazon

The clear design of these gel insoles allows for support and comfort without the risk of them being seen. Featuring a slim design, the insoles won't crowd your toes — which is great if you're wearing especially flimsy Mary Janes. 

"These gel inserts work better than expected. I purchased these for some flats I had [where] the heel was extremely uncomfortable to the point of giving me blisters," wrote one Amazon shopper. "I had these inserts in those shoes all day while at a conference and no foot pain or blisters. love them."

$8 at Walmart
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$8 at Amazon$13 at CVS Pharmacy

You're going to want a good pack of hydrocolloid bandages in dealing with pesky blisters. The gel material of this 20-pack of bandages provides a moist environment to better facilitate the healing process. And the sooner the blisters are gone, the sooner you can slip your feet into your favorite Mary Janes again. 

$8 at Amazon