An attractive, work-appropriate, and comfortable casual everyday shoe
I occasionally lament that there are so few work-appropriate minimalist shoes that are comfortable for all day wear. I will lament no longer with the addition of the VIVOBAREFOOT Mary Jane to my minimalist collection. They are soft, stylish, slip-ons that will work for any casual or office outfit for an average to extra wide foot.
Width: Average to Extra Wide
Sole Thickness: 4.5 mm
Weight: 6 ounces or 170 grams
Insole: Removable, 5.0 mm, ½ ounce or 14 grams
Sizing: 35–40; Full sizes; Fits true to size
Category: Casual, Work Appropriate
Comfort & Fit
This is one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing to date. There are few shoes that are wide enough for my ample metatarsal splay and the Mary Jane has room to spare. There are no tight areas or rubbing anywhere and the heel cup is just the right size for me. The vamp is short enough to allow a full 90o bend in my toes, which I find to be a nice detail on an open shoe. The strap, which attaches with a long length of Velcro, keeps the shoe comfortably in place. In addition, the strap is also long enough to accommodate an extra high instep. As my instep is not extra high, the strap goes all the way to the floor to secure the shoe properly suggesting that a narrow width foot would not fit this shoe well. The shoe lining is soft Dri-lex® made with Sorona yarn, which is moisture-wicking and contains Aegis for bacteria control.
The 5.0 mm insole is removable and provides a nice amount of cushioning. If you need extra volume in the shoe, taking out the insole can accommodate for this. It is also washable in case of odour accumulation, which I have not experienced with the review pair. The footbed is soft and comfortable with an unobtrusive seam making the shoe quite suitable for its absence.
I generally fit a U.S. size 8 and the review pair of Mary Janes in size 39 fits me with a little room to spare. A size 38 would fit more snugly but I am happy with the extra room in the forefoot and toebox. The VIVOBAREFOOT website shoefitr says a size 38 would fit and in my experience, it has been pretty accurate in sizing.
Barefoot Feel & Function
The Hex Flex outsole does not provide the best proprioception compared to other VIVOBAREFOOT outsoles but it is quite flexible in design allowing for all but small pebbles to be felt. Removing the insole will increase proprioceptive feedback as well. Because the shoe upper is open and the last is made extra wide, the foot can function naturally inside the shoe.
Most of the 6-ounce weight is in the rubber outsole and is well-balanced across the length of the shoe. The rubber also provides a substantial amount of grip, even on wet surfaces, a rare feature in a women’s work appropriate shoe.
The upper is a high-quality, full grain leather. After several outings, including a standing-room only rock concert, there is not a single scuff and the shoes still look brand new. The heel quarter of the shoe is a material fabric rather than the leather, which I believe is to allow for a softer, more flexible, and accommodating feel than the leather would be. This probably also reduces the break-in period, which I found to be none required, because the heel area is comfortable right out of the box.
For improved longevity of the leather upper, you could treat them with a dress shoe leather protector but I have not chosen to do so with the review pair and they still look and smell brand new.
The 4.5 mm outsole is made with 20% recycled rubber content. After several long urban walks, there is only the slightest hint of wear in the heel area, which I had to look very closely to find. The hexagonal design provides plenty of flexibility in all directions throughout the length of the outsole. As with all VIVOBAREFOOT footwear, there is no arch support included in the design of the shoe.
The quality of both the materials and manufacturing is impeccable. There are no flaws in the review pair. The leather upper and rubber outsole appear extremely durable and will likely last a long time. The only feature of this shoe that will fail to last is the painted on V logo on the back of the heel, which is purely esthetic and not a problem for me as it is hardly noticeable anyway.
The Mary Jane is elegant and simplistic in design. The high-quality materials add to their style with an understated richness. I love their simple curves and functional comfort. They are currently available on the U.S. website in black and dark brown and on the U.K. website in an additional aubergine.
The Mary Jane is perfectly suited for any casual or urban use from long, lazy walks in the park to a professional office setting. Their colour options allow for a variety of palettes in addition to a ubiquitous black.
At $110 USD, they are comparably priced for a high-quality, full leather, long-lasting mary jane-style casual women’s shoe. Their classic look and durability ensures many seasons of wear further justifying their price point.
The VIVOBAREFOOT Mary Jane is one of those shoes that you could wear for just about any casual setting. They are comfortable enough for long walks and stylish enough for office environs. They are the only shoe currently on the minimalist market that I would recommend for a wide or extra wide foot with their ample forefoot room. I love their simplistic elegance and outfit versatility. Their full grain leather quality is both durable and long-lasting ensuring many seasons of enjoyment.
For more information or to purchase the Mary Jane, you can check out the VIVOBAREFOOT website.