Why espadrilles are the shoes for every summer occasion

Last Updated on 11th July 2022

If there’s one timeless pair of summer shoes that you can have in your wardrobe and rely on forever, it’s a pair of espadrilles. The rope-soled canvas shoe that began as practical summer footwear for 14th-century peasants in the Spanish Pyrenees has come a long way.

Worn by stars of the silver screen such as Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall and Audrey Hepburn and still worn by celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé today, it’s worth investing in a quality pair of women’s espadrilles.

A sustainable choice

The fact that espadrilles are still popular today and have never gone out of fashion is a reflection upon their design genius. If you’re conscious about sustainability and often filter your fashion app searches as such, you’ll know that if you buy a pair of espadrilles they’ll be in your wardrobe for years; you won’t be replacing them frequently. It’s also worth looking out for espadrilles which are made from recycled materials.

So why hasn’t this footwear champion dated at all? Well, it’s all down to style and versatility. Good design must serve a purpose and inspire beautiful craftsmanship — and this is the essence of the espadrille. They’re multipurpose, seeing you through every summer occasion. You can wear them to countless events.

yellow espadrilles

The office summer party

One of the reasons that espadrilles are so loved is that they’re stylish, but comfortable. Office parties might involve moving on to a venue straight from the office. Or you could be walking between venues in a city centre. Flat espadrilles look good with a skirt, dress or wide-leg trousers and you can dress them up or down. The perfect choice for day-to-night office wear.

The classic espadrille style — flat with ankle ties — is ideal for wearing with a maxi skirt for a day in the office (maxi is back on-trend for S/S 22), but this also offers a dramatic look for the evening. Simply add some statement jewellery or a biker jacket if the summer night air is cool. The Y2K mini is also returning for S/S 22 and flat espadrilles offer the perfect way to make a mini comfortable for work.

Summer weddings

Summer weddings often involve marquee receptions and outdoor ceremonies. This brings up the age-old problem of what to wear, and specifically, how you can walk in heels on grass. You might stubbornly think you can chance it because your favourite heels match your dress, but tip-toeing on the balls of your feet all day looks awkward and feels beyond painful. And sinking your silk-covered Louboutin stilettos into grass will stain them permanently.

Thankfully, way back in 1970, Yves Saint Laurent worked with Lorenzo Castañer to create a heeled version of the famous espadrille. This genius partnership solved all our heeled grass problems for evermore. Espadrille wedges are the perfect summer wedding shoe: your feet will remain cool in hot weather, the wedges won’t sink into grass, the wedge height will elongate your legs and you can dance the night away without needing to take your shoes off by the end.

espadrilles on beach
espadrilles are the beach summer essentials

The beach

Flat espadrille ankle-strap sandals are the perfect choice for walking on a sandy beach as the sand won’t become trapped in the shoe and you won’t sink as you walk. And pair them up with a raffia bag for the perfect beach look.

Flat espadrille sandals look preppy when paired with shorts or a pleated skirt (think Gymeth Paltrow in The Talented Mr Ripley). Or you can create a bohemian look (on-trend for S/S 22), with a long flowing beach dress, elements of tie-dye or crochet and lots of accessories. If you’re going on a boat trip, the slip-on, closed-toe espadrille is ideal for getting on and off the boat with ease and keeping your feet steady while on board.

And with these flat espadrilles your feet will still be comfortable if you take a walk away from the beach or go for a bike ride (whereas beach flip-flops… not so much).

The summer social calendar

Whether it’s the races, a regatta, polo or a garden party, summer events often involve dressing up, but also walking on grass. A classic espadrille wedge can be worn at any of these events.

And there is such variety to choose from: the colour, the height of the wedge heel, open-toed or closed, ankle-strap, crossover or ankle-tie. All will make your legs look longer and your walk elegant, but most importantly, they’re comfortable. No need to squeeze a pair of flats into your handbag.

woman in espadrilles

City breaks

City breaks involve eating, drinking, shopping and culture galore. They also involve lots and lots (and lots) of walking. In summer, you’re more likely to get some warm weather, which is perfect for sitting outside a street café sipping a cool drink, but isn’t so great for hot feet.

Casual lace-up espadrilles are the best footwear for a city break. They’ll keep your feet cool and comfortable and will be quick to dry out if you experience a surprise rain shower. These relaxed espadrilles can be worn with jeans, shorts or a sundress: they’re super-versatile. Team them up with some Ray-Ban Wayfarers for an insouciant, cool look as you explore the city.

Cocktail parties

Cocktail party wear is more glam than smart casual, but not as dressy as black tie. A cocktail dress was clearly made for the event. The cocktail dress usually stops at the knee (not mini or maxi). Jumpsuits or wide-legged trousers and a blazer also work well.

Pair the cocktail dress, trousers or jumpsuit with some platform espadrille sandals. These platforms are comfortable for wearing all evening when you won’t be walking far as the wedge will support your foot well. Celebrities like Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga and Doja Cat have been championing the platform recently, and if you want to stand out, it’s the choice for you.

Whether you choose glamorous espadrille platforms or classic espadrille flats, there really is an espadrille style for everyone — this summer, and the summers which follow.