Say hello to Softstar Shoes Primal Merry Jane – one of the widest and beautifully foot-shaped barefoot ballet flats. Soft, premium quality leather, rich colours and a special V-strap design will give your outfit an unique look with a lot of toe freedom.
Softstar Shoes workshop is located in Oregon, USA. All their shoes are handcrafted using age-old moccasin style techniques with last-free process. The materials are sustainably sourced, eco-friendly leather is ‘non-toxic, tanned without formaldehyde and colored with natural food grade dye’.
In their very long tradition of shoe-crafting they developed several different styles of shoes for kids and adults. Primal Merry Jane ballet flats, which I review here are part of their ‘Primal line’ collection which feature an unique sole shape with an extra wide foot-shaped toe box.
Disclaimer: I was sent these shoes as a gift to review, but as always, all opinions expressed here are my own. I’m also proud to be a Softstar Shoes affiliate and I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through the links on my website at no additional cost to you. Thank you for all your support ♥
- Brand: Softstar Shoes
- Model: Primal Merry Jane
- Colour: Elderberry
- Tested on: woman, medium-wide feet, 26.3 cm long and 10 cm wide, low instep, skinny ankles with narrow heel, fin-shaped foot (see my how to measure guide and foot type)
| Made in USA | Adult | Leather | Ship worldwide |
2. Material characteristics
Softstar Primal Merry Janes are made from premium smooth leather. The leather is very soft and you can immediately see that it is a very good quality too.
At the moment you can choose between 4 different colours: Elderberry, Black, Aged Acorn and Blaze. Color customizations are not possible for this model.
I’m testing their Elderberry colour which is a rich purple colour. You may notice minor color differences in the pictures (depending on the light), but that’s just the charm of this beautiful color.
A V-shaped strap with a buckle ensures a secure fit and it does not reduce the elegance of the shoe. Actually, I find this leather strap as a nice detail added to the shoe.
Under the buckle there is a hidden elasticized part, which ensures a more comfortable fit and also some give.
Ballet flats are lined with smooth leather. Around the heel part, the leather is the same colour as the upper, in the front part they used lighter leather.
Suede insoles are not removable. Under the insole there is also integrated Ortholite padding for an extra comfort.
Primal Merry Janes feature a very thin and flexible Vibram rubber outsole. The outsole is only 2 mm thick, but total stack height is slightly more than this (around 5 mm) because of the integrated padding and suede insole.
Ground feeling is good. Integrated padding ensures minimal cushion and comfort, which makes walking on hard surfaces even more pleasurable.
They are very light and soft. You cannot get better flexibility with the shoe than this is.
Also check my video for the close-up and to see how they look on my feet.
3. Sizing information
Softstar Shoes recommend you to choose the size you need with using their size chart or their printable template. My foot length is 26.3 cm and I’m on the upper limit for a size 9U according to their size chart and also on their template. I decided to choose size 9U, but I didn’t know how much space this meant for my toes inside the shoe.
The internal length of the insole in size 9U is around 27.3 cm, but the actual inside length is less than this. Front part is flater with not a lot of space above the toes, which means you will lose some length because of this.
See post How much space do we need in shoes if you want to know more about that.
If you are on the upper end of your size, I definitely recommend you to size up. That way you will ensure enough space for your toes to move, your toes will be further back and the flat front part won’t bother you.
For this particular model, I would definitely size up next time to ensure enough space for my toes in the front. For reference, I’m wearing Fireside slippers in the same size and they fit me really well.
All Softstar shoes are completely handmade, which means that you can expect small differences due to the handmade process and technique they are using.
You can see on the photo below that the sole in my left pair is slightly longer. Differences like these are normal as all the excess soling is hand-trimmed. This difference is only noticeable in direct comparison like you see on the photo and it is not visually disturbing and does not affect the functionality of the shoe.
3.2. Toebox shape & width
Primal Merry Jane is best suited for wider feet with gentle slopes towards the little toes. They have a really good toebox shape for my foot shape (4), but they will work well also for all the other shapes, except 1, where you can end up with a lot of excess space in front of the little toes.
More about different foot types you can read in my post What is my Foot Type?
Ballet flats are made without using lasts and you will notice that your new pair will be very flat in the front. Softstar Shoes recommend stuffing your new pair with socks overnight to stretch them, but my pair stretched very fast just by wearing them. The softness of the leather greatly speeds up the stretching process.
But still, take in mind that you need to choose more space in front of your toes (size up if you on the upper end for your size) as you get less usable length because of its flatness. Your foot slightly moves forward in them which also affects the space inside.
You may also notice some toe poke, but this doesn’t affect the comfort.
Primal Merry Jane come in 2 different widths – narrow and regular, but I would rather classify them as ‘wide’ and ‘extra wide’. My pair is their ‘narrow’ model and the width is perfect for me. It is best suited for medium-wide and wide feet. In a bigger size, I would have even more width available.
3.3. Fit around the instep, heel and ankle
Ballet flats can be adjusted well over the instep with a V-shaped ankle strap. This double strap also prevents some gapping at the sides.
The length of the strap will work well for low and also higher volume feet. My buckle is closed somewhere in the middle, but if I would choose a bigger size which would work better for my foot length, probably the strap would be longer for me.
Because of the V-strap design it might happen that both parts of the strap won’t sit perfectly on some combinations of heights of the instep and volume in the midfoot area.
I have nothing to complain about comfort. Primal Merry Jane are made from very soft leather and “foam” padding hidden under the insole ensures an extra soft feeling while walking.
The only thing that could bother you at the beginning is the flat front part, but if you choose the right size, this won’t be a big problem for you. The leather stretches extremely fast.
5. How and when to wear them?
Primal Merry Jane can be worn with a wide range of outfits. You can pair them with jeans and a T-shirt and leave a bit of ankle showing. They also work well with a dress or you can wear them in the office with a semi-formal outfit too. If you want to keep it simple and sophisticated, you can choose their black ballet flats, but I just love the colours and this purple one is really gorgeous.
6. Price & where to buy
Softstar Shoes Primal Merry Jane can be bought at the official Softstar Shoes website. The price is 170 €.
For the EU, tax, customs and the costs of the customs procedure need to be added to this price (this is usually cca. 35% – 40% to the price of the shoes).
7. Shipping info
Softstar Shoes ship worldwide. Free shipping is for the US, for Canada is free on orders above $100 and for the EU free for orders above $150 (125€) and $12 for anything less than this.
8. To sum up
Primal Merry Jane are very soft and stylish ballet flats with a wonderfully wide foot-shaped toebox. They came in two different widths which will make them suitable also for those with very wide feet. Just pay attention to choosing the right size to allow enough room for your toes. I’m sure you will love the comfort and spaciousness of your Primal Merry Janes.