The espadrille is the most egalitarian summer shoe. It eschews elitism, and it doesn’t differentiate between tax brackets, much less genders. It doesn’t even discriminate between your left and right feet. (Really; with old-school versions, you can switch it up.)
You can buy espadrilles in fancy boutiques and online, but these are quintessentially simple shoes, and best when you don’t muck about with them. In their native Basque and Catalan regions (straddling the border of France and Spain) and all of southern France—where I stock up—you can pick them up for a song at super-markets and gas stations. But for me, the Côte d’Azur is their true stomping (or maybe shuffling) ground.
They’re ideal for lolling about at home or hitting the market or the beach, yet ironically—for something traditionally made of braided rope and canvas—espadrilles are not for sailing. A lot of water is the death of them, though a little does help the fitting process, as the rope soles will swell and mold better to your feet. Still, their natural habitat is heat and dust.
I prefer mine in marine-striped cotton rather than plain, and because these are idlers’ shoes, I always wear them with the backs folded flat under my heels like mules. Espadrilles are by nature work-shy, and yet, paradoxically, they are efficient multitaskers. In the summer, they do an admirable job of being all-day slippers (perfect with all-day pajamas), they make a great nonslip alternative to flip-flops, and they won’t overheat in the sun. Dressed up a bit, they even double as loafers—as long as your ankles have seen enough sun. Which reminds me: No socks, please.
This article appears in the Summer 2020 issue of Esquire.
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