6 Jul 2017

Espadrilles with Attitude

My love of espadrilles knows no limit: I would be lost without them! They are my essential Corsican Summer footwear, inside and outside. I don't just wear them, I wear them out: a pair lasts me a season (sometimes less according to the quality/ finnish or the wear and tear I put them through). When I lived in colder climes I would wear espadrilles essentially at home during the Summer in lieu of slippers (much more pleasant) and out, weather permitting. My love story goes back a long way: I first started wearing them as an 8-year-old, if I remember right, and have been wearing them year upon year ever since.

My pair of Little Marcel espadrilles, which I have worn a few times...

Talk about versatility: espadrilles are available in every colour and pattern under the sun, from basic white to coastal blue, via chintzy Liberty fabrics, warm Catalogne/ Basque Region stripes, pastel shades and polka dots... Along the way, fashion designers have pimped up the pump with gusto: dressed up in leather, adorned with sequins, laced up, filigreed in gold, propped up with a wedge heel... Anything goes.

'Madcarina' Wedge by Christian Louboutin: espadrille-inspired braided rope and a chic turban twist toe detail

Espadrilles are a social leveller in my book. Everyone can afford them at their most basic. Their understated chic makes them preppy, while their vivid colours and bold patterns lend a boho vibe. Their restrained Summery look makes them resort. Their overall design makes them as comfy as a pair of no-frills sneakers. Depending upon their colour and the way you wear them, you could get away with wearing them at church, at a town hall meeting, at the doctor's surgery or a garden party without anyone blinking an eyelid. Just dress up your attire and lend a little sassiness and confidence to your step.

'Vogue 125' Sandals by Soludos

I doubt orthopedists would recommend the regular wear of espadrilles because in all honesty their canvas upper and basic jute sole combo does not support the feet adequately like a pair of good quality flats would. Though for pottering around the house and garden, running a few errands, driving, and walking down the beach and back, they cannot be faulted. Despite the fact that I do routinely walk miles in them (flattish urbanised terrain of roadside and pavement - and the occasional dirt track), I wouldn't expect anyone to trek rocky terrain in those: this is not what they are made for! Consider the espadrille a week-ender, a city slicker with a garden for countryside, not a country lass per se.

Soludos for J.Crew Espadrilles in Chambray

Despite their very basic no-frills construction (no Air Max technology, ergonomics or air-cushioned soles here folks!) and their identical right foot/ left foot, espadrilles are comfortable for what they are, then again strictly for dry Summertime (not weatherproof unless you upgrade to the Sea Star Beachwear Beachcomber Espadrille) and to be worn on flat terrain. Their canvas upper makes them tempered and breathable. So no nasty sweats like you would with plastic beach sandals or even with the not-so-innocent flip-flops.

'Elisa' Espadrille Wedges by Tory Burch

The sole is natural woven jute (which absorbs perspiration like a dream), usually with a thin rubber underside, and sometimes with the insole lined in canvas (which I recommend because it will make your walking experience more comfortable).

'Baja' Satin Espadrilles by J.Crew

Espadrilles, especially if worn daily over a whole Summer, will harden the soles of your feet, yet by the same token you will never get a blister wearing those little darlings: bonus for a carefree Summer and to keep those tootsies in tip-top condition!

'Joanne' Embroidered Espadrilles, by Polo Ralph Lauren

Espadrilles are affordable if you are looking for basic ones (less than €10.00/ $11.50/ £8.80). But how high can you go in price? I mean some of those featured here are pimped up, dressed up variants, still reasonable in price and they may last the distance by a few more miles than the standard espadrille.

Wearing my (now worse for wear) Mellow Yellow Liberty Espadrilles on the beach with Tickle!

Espadrilles are essentially still manufactured in their locale of origin, the Pyrenees, Catalogne and French and Spanish Basque region. China and Bangladesh now produce them too. Regardless of how you look after them, one downside is that overall quality can be flaky, and funnily enough I find that this is not dependent upon the country of origin. The weakest link is the stitch that frays and comes undone and/ or poor-quality fabric that gives way and/ or splits in the big toe area or the heel... 

The Chut Charlotte espadrille atelier in the French Pyrenees


Espadrilles are flats with attitude regardless: versatile, slip-on, unisex, easy-going and still able to pull a dressed-up look together. They are comfy but not sloppy, and no matter how much you put them through their paces, they shall never lose that vacational, continental, sun-kissed, sand-filled, sea-salt-stained mojo!

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