Farewell Mary Janes: Finding Fun, Fashionable, Practical Shoes for Everyday Life

Remember when you were a kid and you wore the same shoes to do everything in?

School: black patent leather Mary Janes. Home: black patent leather Mary Janes. Dinner out with the fam: black patent leather Mary Janes. You get the idea.

They were glossy, and they served their all-around purpose of getting from point A to B. At some point, you either outgrew them or they died a sad, patent leather death — whichever came first.

Jump ahead to adulthood when you find yourself needing a shoe for every. single. thing. in life. So, how do you go about finding stylish, yet practical, shoes for life’s daily needs? Some of it’s trial and error. Some of it’s whatever is the most comfortable, closest to the door, or easiest to slip on. Some of it, of course, is style.

Shoes to Walk the Dog In

With a poop bag in one hand and a dog on a leash in the other, you probably don’t care if you’re neighbors shake their heads at your choice of footwear as you casually walk down the street. This is about the dog, after all. And, hey, at least you aren’t in your bathrobe.  

You see celebrities walking their pooches in everything imaginable, from strappy sandals, to sneakers, to high heels. They are getting photographed, so they need to look cute at all times. For the rest of us, we are wearing our “dog-walking shoes.” This choice can range from Ugg-like boots to a pair of paint-splattered tennis shoes to a comfy slip on. Almost anything goes.

But a word of advice: Unless you want to do a faceplant, don’t wear crocs or stilettos. Two shoes couldn’t be more different, yet, the outcome could totally be the same.

Shoes to Trail Run In

This is more serious business. If you don’t pick the best-fitting trail shoe with the right tread for the type of running you enjoy, you could find yourself with blisters or plantar fasciitis — a runner’s worst nightmare.

You also don’t want to spend $500 dollars a year or max out your credit card by trying to figure it out. Don’t buy the first pair you see. Go to a running store, get some expert advice, and try on a million pairs before deciding.

Another word of advice: You can find a quality pair of trail runners online at a great price. Try them on in a store first, shop around online for them, and make sure there’s a good return policy and free shipping. Don’t buy something online unless you know it’s the best shoe for you first. You wouldn’t buy a pair of jeans without trying them on first, so it’s wise not to do it with shoes, either!

Shoes to Go Grocery Shopping In

You probably won’t wear your dog walking shoes to grocery shop because you never know if someone is going to ask for your phone number while browsing for veggies in the produce aisle.

According to an article on Cosmopolitan’s website, the shoe men find least attractive is the wedge. What? Obviously men have never sported a stylish wedge. Men also apparently “throw up a little” seeing women wear Uggs around.

But more importantly, women should wear whatever they want if it makes them feel good. Most likely, you’re probably just getting off of work and need to pick up a few items at the store for dinner, so whatever you’re wearing is the shoe you are going to shop in. Period.

Shoes to go to a Music Festival In

Here’s your chance to show some personal flair. This is where the wedge could possibly come in. A wedge prevents you from sinking into the dirt or grass venue, unlike a pair of stilettos whose pointy heels could get permanently stuck in the mud.

Music festival dress code is pretty lax, but it’s also a chance to showcase your footwear. Shoes made for walking, dancing and stomping around are all good options for festival goers. Anything from sneakers, to lace ups and gladiators, to the timeless Birkenstock are always comfortable and practical choices.

Shoes to Go Out In

Anything goes here. High heels, strappy sandals, flats, sneakers, clogs, boots — all of it works. At the end of the day, you are the one wearing the shoes. It’s time to come out of the closet and put your best foot forward.

Shoes are a fabulous form of self-expression. You’re a grown woman, and you can wear what you want. There’s a shoe for every occasion and every mood. Are you feeling sexy, sporty, business-y, or bold? There’s a shoe for you.

Just imagine how boring life would be if you had to wear the same black patent leather Mary Janes for the rest of your life.