Monday, 5 August 2013

Espadrilles or Loafers?

White leather shoes bought in France, 1998. Photo by Brian Davis, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
I love to debate. My husband claims I should have been a lawyer. He on the other hand shies away from anything that even suggests judgement or confrontation. So when my friend Brian from Calgary sent me a photo of his "espadrilles", I thought, "there's a post here because I think his pair are loafers not espadrilles". Does it matter? For those who think like my husband, not at all; but for those with a personality type like mine, why not, because it leads to discussion and more interaction - of the most innocent kind of course.

White espadrilles AKA loafers? Photo by Brian Davis.
These are Brian's shoes - very NICE: leather with vents on the upper vamp. Here is his story:

15 years ago while working in Dinard, France in 1998 for five months, I noticed this was a style of shoe worn by both women and men. It was a style I liked.

During this time, Brian spent some of his free time shopping for interesting and unique shoes. While in St. Malo, these white leather shoes with a slight wedge caught his eye.
I forget the name of the store I was in but I remember looking at several different pairs but one in particular caught my eye. The eye-popping bright white leather under the store's fluorescent lights made them stand out over the rest. The slight wedge heel with the gold thread woven through the jute added a nice touch which made them perfect for me. I left the store thinking I just bought myself a pair of white leather wedge heel espadrilles. I wore them in France with never as much as a second look. The few times I wore them back home in Calgary, I often remember hearing comments about my "loafers". I just thought, whatever, they're espadrilles. I shared my thoughts with JoyD in an email in response to her last post about espadrilles. I also mentioned we could be twins in our white pants and white espadrilles. I sent a photo and she kindly informed me that mine are loafers not espadrilles!
White espadrilles bought in Arcachon. Photo by JoyD. 
So the question still remains,  what makes an espadrille? The materials - cotton canvas and jute soles; the heel height - flat or slight wedge; the upper vamp - straight across with no vents and stitched over the side panel. Brian's shoes have vents and they are leather so they are loafers not espadrilles. Deductive reasoning, n'est-ce pas?

Brian, now on a mission to find out more about his loafers AKA espadrilles, began an internet search. He explains:
My first thought was a friendly bet . . . something like, on a warm sunny afternoon, we both wear our white pants, blue striped shirts and "espadrilles". The loser of the debate has to keep the winner's wine glass full for the remainder of the day and evening. Oh I could taste the wine getting better and better as the evening wore on. A quick internet search and I should have this debate wrapped up in no time. Here's what I learned from my on-line research. 15 years ago I bought myself a cute pair of loafers! My imaginary bet would have had me running back and forth from the wine cellar to JoyD, in my white leather loafers . . . as I managed to keep her wine glass full  . . . as she relaxed on the patio in her espadrilles.

Thank-you Brian for the imaginary bet; I assure you, it is not in my personality type to gloat. I appreciate you doing the research but even if you had found "evidence" to support your "espadrilles" I would have stuck by my definition.

In his email, Brian concludes:

Espadrilles are likely the most feminine yet still unisex shoe made without crossing the gender lines. That was 15 years ago and it's a nice reminder of my shoe desire journey. Today I prefer ballet flats but like you said in your previous post. Espadrilles are "chic" and acceptable for guys to wear. 
I would think that in the Basque area of Europe, where they originated, there was no gender specification. They were espadrilles, both males and females wore them and that was that.

Back to my husband's thoughts on this . . . "Are you kidding? Who cares what they're are called?" You know, I think he's right. And that is the way it should be for all clothing, who cares who they were "made for" . . .  who cares what they are called . . . ah, but in debate the "accepted definitions" and "identifiable features" tend to be the breaking points and the deciding factors.

Thanks, Brian for participating in the debate! 


  1. Another top up of wine for you JoyD. I can't believe how quickly this post happened and how quickly it ended. And while it ended in defeat (for me) I could be happier. I learned something new about shoes. Something I thought I knew everything about. I guess I will sit back and enjoy shoes for what they really are. Things we put on our feet and things that make a fashion statement about who we are and what we feel. What really is amazing is how people perceive or what they think aboutthe shoes you are wearing say about you. There are a lot of shoes I like that the stereotype say something completely different about who I am. This comes back to what your husband said. " "Are you kidding? Who cares what they're are called?" You know, I think he's right. And that is the way it should be for all clothing, who cares who they were "made for" . . . who cares what they are called"

    He's right but seriously, you won this one. Opps better top you up again

    1. It is because of emails and comments, like yours, that I continue this blog. If I did not receive them, I would begin to fret about that which I write being only of interest to me. And like I said I love debate as long as the debaters end up toasting each other and not walking out on each other. Although my mother tried to instill in me, that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, I never quite believed her - there's a lot of variations on how things can be done, and well there should be for the human mind is creative - no matter what we end up calling the final product. Cheers!


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