Looking for a holiday shoe but don’t feel like sandals or flip-flops? Need something durable enough to wear around your beach resort without breaking the bank?
Then let me introduce to you espadrilles – the unsung heroes of informal summer footwear. But how do you select the perfect pair? The following guide should help you determine what’s right for you this season.
Let’s start by taking a look at the origins and essential characteristics of the shoe…
Typically, espadrilles are constructed from lightweight canvas or cotton with a soft (often rubberised) sole and jute-fibre ‘rope’ braided around the edge. Originally considered to be the shoe of peasants, espadrilles have slowly become more fashionable over the years particularly in hot Mediterranean countries, and can easily be worn by both genders.
They’re ultra light, meaning you won’t be going over your baggage allowance packing a pair or two, plus they’re breathable and comfortable to wear without your socks on.
Where should I wear them?
Espadrilles are unquestionably casual, to the point at which they could be considered more like ‘outdoor slippers’ than shoes. This is definitely not the sort of footwear you can take into a business meeting on Monday morning!
However, they are an ideal solution for those planning to spend their holiday deck side, or perhaps walking the dog along the boardwalk in the oppressive twilight heat.
Outdoor gatherings and festivals are also a good fit for espadrilles, but always have those wellington boots just in case the event turns into a rain-soaked, mud-slicked washout.
What colours should I consider?
Espadrilles still carry a ‘metrosexual’ stigma, so it’s important to keep things looking as masculine as possible. Avoid those hot pinks and soft violets, and instead grab more neutral tones line navy, black or light tan.
If you do go for patterns, ensure you don’t get anything that clashes with the rest of your attire, whilst also saving those ‘bolder’ designs for another day.
What about the fit?
You’ll find traditional espadrilles are naturally loose fitting, so don’t be too concerned if the shoe feels quite ‘slack’. If this bothers you, you may find the next size down feels more snug and supportive.
Modern espadrilles, on the other hand, are constructed more along the lines of plimsolls with firmer support around the upper area, complete with elasticised stretch bands. Again, it’s best to try on several pairs until you get a comfortable result.
You may even want to find a hybrid shoe that utilises laces for extra firmness; but by this point, they’ve largely lost their original ‘espadrille’ appeal – you may as well be wearing a pair of classic Vans slip-ons.
Remember that espadrilles are not constructed to take the everyday battering and bruising of regular footwear, and certainly won’t have the same lifespan of your leather shoes or sneakers. Espadrilles hate getting wet, so avoid taking a brisk walk along the rolling ocean waves whilst wearing them.
Oh, and it should go without saying but, the wedge-shaped high heel varieties are for the ladies only.