NEW YORK — If you’re craving a little more summer in your springtime wardrobe and you’re hesitant to break out the white pants (it’s OK, but that’s another conversation), try espadrilles.
The rope-soled shoes long have been a staple of the fair-weather seasons, no matter if there’s a chill in the air or the sidewalks are steaming. It’s all good as long as the sun is shining.
“The espadrille for spring is like the riding boot in the fall,” says Elisa Miller, creative director of the beachy brand Calypso St. Barth. “It’s a rite of the season.”
Style options have increased exponentially as designers take liberties with the definition — and have gotten a little smarter about their construction. Flat versions, wedge versions, sandals, slides and gladiator lace-up styles are some of the choices of a shoe with humble roots that was made fashionable in France and Spain in the mid-20th century.
“I’d call anything with the jute sole an espadrille,” says Miller. “You could have any fabric for the top — canvas, leather — it could be plastic, but you have to have the jute. That’s what defines it.”
Luckily for wearers, especially those who have been caught in the rain, many espadrilles now have a bottom layer of rubber, too.
But such practicality likely isn’t driving the renewed interest. Alexis Bryan Morgan, executive fashion director at Lucky magazine, traces this “huge espadrille moment” to last year’s Valentino spring runway. Seeing lacy black espadrilles paired with a long lace dress left editors swooning, she said. “It was styled so elegantly that suddenly this disposable go-to shoe was also chic and elegant. This brought it to a whole new level.”
They’re fun, says Tana Ward, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer for American Eagle. They can bring graphic prints and bright colors to an outfit without a major commitment, she says.
Lucky’s Morgan sees them as a more fashionable alternative to flip-flops. They can go to the beach or to dinner and prices tend to be more affordable.