Espadrilles

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The classic rope-soled shoe of the French Mediterranean is the hot new shoe, as men around the world discover the simplicity and comfort of the espadrille. First appearing in the Pyrenees mountains, espadrilles have become synonymous with summer and the casual ease of the Riviera. Over time, their appeal and look have found their way into modern fashion, and fashion houses such as Versace and Armani have even used them on the runway. Don Johnson sported a pair in white during the early years of Miami Vice on television. Today, however, they have become the easiest to pack and most versatile footwear for a man of any age to wear in warmer climates.

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Espadrilles are normally casual flat, but sometimes high heeled shoes originating from the Pyrenees. They usually have a canvas or cotton fabric upper and a flexible sole made of rope or rubber material moulded to look like rope. The jute rope sole is the defining characteristic of an espadrille; the uppers vary widely in style.

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Origins
The espadrille has been around for centuries maybe even thousands of years. The Archaeological museum of Granada owns a pair of espadrilles that were found on human remains inside the “cueva de los murielagos” (the bat-cave).

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Espadrilles became fashionable in USA in the 1940s. Lauren Bacall’s character in the 1948 movie Key Largo wore ankle-laced espadrilles. The style was revived in the 1980s, due to the success of Miami Vice—the shoe was worn by Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson).
In the summer of 2009 one could see the espadrilles, having a hesitant comeback. Since then, they have become a classic piece of summer footwear for men.

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Espadrilles are unquestionably casual, to the point at which they could be considered more like ‘outdoor slippers’ than shoes. This is definitely not the sort of footwear you can take into a business meeting on Monday morning! However, they are an ideal solution for those planning to spend their holiday deck side, or perhaps walking the dog along the boardwalk in the oppressive twilight heat. Living in Greece, I am used to seeing Men wearing Espadrilles during the morning or the afternoon, on the beach or for a walk. Again, avoid wearing them on dinner, or something even slightly formal.

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Desert Boot Guide

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Regardless of whether you know what you’re talking about or not, it should be drilled into you that your shoes are arguably THE most important part of your wardrobe. You wear them everyday, they protect your feet from all sorts of nasties and they make a big statement about your image and your personality. They should be one of the first things on your list.

For both the initiated and uninitiated the desert boot is the prefect choice. To use a much overused cliché, they’re so easy to dress up and down, looking just as good with a plain tee as a button down and tie. The soft lines and material means they blend seamlessly within a variety of outfits and the choice of colours offers a huge amount of choice.

I would suggest desert boots to anyone in a heartbeat. They have history and they are a timeless classic that will never, and I mean never, go out of fashion; they are above trends and ‘the next big thing’ and they should definitely be a consideration for your wardrobe.

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The Origin of Dessert Boots
During the Second World War, Officers of the British Eighth Army stationed in Egypt took to wearing, in their off-duty hours, simple, comfortable, roughly-fashioned crepe-soled suede boots handmade in Cairo’s Old Bazaar. The straightforward, lightweight design of these boots, partly inspired by Indian chupple sandals and Dutch Voortrekker boots, captured the imagination of Nathan Clark, of the famous Somerset family of shoe manufacturers, when he encountered them while on military service in Burma in the late 1940s.
As soon as he could, Clark set about producing his own version for public consumption. Another possible influence may have been the Chukka boot, popular at the time, whose appearance was not dissimilar.
Early samples failed to generate much interest. But then the Chicago Shoe fair of 1950 saw the US launch of the Clarks Desert Boot in that classically clean, two-eyelet form which has lasted unchanged to this day. The new boot went down well. During these immediate postwar years, when casual footwear was still a relatively novel concept, the informality of the desert boot, akin to that of Levis jeans or the Converse sneaker, held a distinct appeal for several of the decade’s emerging youth subcultures. The French, Italians and Japanese all came to love their Clarks lace-ups.

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Light coloured suede desert boots look fantastic with dark denim, the two tones playing off each other perfectly. Keep the jeans slimmer and you create a refined silhouette which avoids swamping the shoes. Above all, keep things simple. You won’t ever go wrong with a simple but well considered outfit. Basic colours, a good mix of textures and the proper fit will make more difference than plastering yourself in all the bells and whistles.

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One downside to the traditional desert boot is the material; suede isn’t particularly fond of water, snow, ice, dirt or pretty much anything that isn’t sun and dry weather (which it still isn’t particularly fond of, as sun makes suede colour fade), so they aren’t necessarily the perfect choice for winter. The answer is to invest in a leather version.
Should your style be of a more formal disposition, your desert boots will work great with a pair of tailored trousers.

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Coloured chinos are a great addition to any wardrobe, stick to autumnal colours like greens, reds and duskier yellows and you’ll find them to be surprisingly versatile. Just the thing to add a shot of colour to any outfit.
Our weather can still be a bit inconsistent so wearing a jacket rather than a coat could well keep you from sweating your innards away. Throw on a denim jacket over a simple tee and you’ve got yourself a good base to work from; layer up with an over shirt or some fine knitwear.
One thing to remember when you’re choosing your desert boots is that different colours can be just as versatile as brown, so try a navy or a green for something a little different.

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Original article by Will Colman here.