I've long had a love affair with espadrilles. I'd had others growing up, flats and slip-ons and even some that raised me up just the a bit to wear one summer when I was a teen, but it was the pair from Italy that first truly wooed me.
I was traveling with my best friend on a clockwise route around Europe, carefully choosing souvenirs along the way that I was certain I could stuff into the bottom of my backpack and would survive trains and hostels and other gross post-college stuff I'd never put up with now. As soon as I stepped foot, in clogs or hiking boots or something far too practical, I knew that a pair of Italian shoes would be the exception to all that souvenir strategy. I had to have a pair I loved and could wear immediately, THAT NIGHT, preferably while sitting outside drinking copious amounts of wine and eating more pasta than I could handle and with some divinely handsome Roman gentleman from the business district.
(Not the originals, but these do capture their spirit. Seychelles Arden, $90)
I wasn't even inside the store when I knew that the shoes would be espadrilles. They were made of ivory linen and tied with long ivory ribbons. They were terribly impractical for the streets of Roma and hauling a backpack on and off trains and pretty much every single place I'd ever visit in the entire world. I did not care. I loved wrapping the ties up my calves, I loved winding them only around my ankles.
(These are screaming to me so loudly, I cannot believe I do not have them upon my feet this very moment. Nine West Lazar, $89)
I loved how they looked with my peasant skirts (please, spare the comments, as it was the 90s), I loved how they made my tan legs look tanner. I wore them across Italy, into Prague, through Germany, in Amsterdam, and back home to Chicago.
(Fun, flirty, frugal. Yep, these are from Payless and are only $19.99)
I wore them after I moved to Oregon. I wore them even when I returned to Chicago years later.
Those espadrilles were my mistress until they broke down completely (and isn't that how it always is?).
(I do love my red espadrilles, but these I would wear nearly every day, all summer long. Lands End, $68)
I bought a new pair from (I shudder to admit this) Payless. They were tan canvas with pink and tan ribbons. They were cute but could not compare. I threw away the Italian espadrilles. Yes, I cried.
(I adore these sleek Burberried-up babies. But since they really are Burberry and really cost $395, I will be wearing them...never.)
I hunted through my two underbed boxes, hanging door organizer and eleven shoe boxes of footwear last summer, looking for those espadrilles, somehow convincing myself I rescued them from the trash and might be able to restore them to their Roman glory after all the travels I've done since I purchased them. Of course, they were long gone. The only espadrilles remaining were the inadequate replacements from Payless. Without a tear, I threw those away.
(If you must wear flats, wouldn't these be easy in the airport and adorable at a picnic? Steve Madden, $50)
I have a few new pairs of espadrilles in my shoe collection now. Even though the Not Boyfriend referred to this style as "rattan chairs made into shoes," I will continue to delight in how the ties peek out flirtatiously when I wear them with my favorite white flared pants.How they hike me up a few inches when I'm courageous enough to wear shorts. How much better they make a simple sundress look.
(OK, these really do look like a beach chair on a rental condo lanai in Florida. BCBG Max Azria, $185)
I really do love every single pair -- even the plaid Ralph Lauren numbers that pinch my heels and require 12 blister-busting BandAids.
But they will never, ever outshine or outwear the first espadrilles to steal my shoe-whore heart.
Are you wearing espadrilles this summer? What shoes did you first give your heart to?
More Shoegasms for your Friday fun: