If you’re like me, then no vacation is complete without five pairs of shoes. You’ve got your flats for the airport, sandals for the beach, sneakers for the exercise you probably won’t do, espadrilles for daytime cocktails and a killer pair of heels for dinner. But when my husband and I embarked on a ten-day trip to Italy, I honestly wasn’t in the mood to lug around ten pounds of shoes (read: he wasn’t in the mood). As a journalist I had to do my due diligence, so I started researching and stumbled upon Charlotte Stone’s espadrilles ($118).
The female-led, eponymous company offers everything from sandals to clogs, but it was the Cora espadrilles and their memory foam insoles that caught my eye. We planned to spend three days in Rome, three on the Amalfi Coast and four at a friend’s wedding in Apulia. To me, that translated to a lot of walking and I wanted to enjoy the sites, sans foot pain. So I knew the memory foam would come in super handy.
On top of that, the Cora is made of soft calf suede—I chose deep red out of ochre, black and latte—and stitched in a contrasting hot coral, so they’re not your run-of-the-mill espadrille. They looked easy to dress up or down, and the rubber outsole appeared to be extremely durable. Further, these kicks are handmade in a small Spanish town by an all-woman team. For an aspiring conscious consumer, they had all the makings of a dream shoe. The problem? I ordered them mere days before my trip and wasn’t able to break them in before we departed.
When we touched down in Rome, I slipped on my new espadrilles for a tour and hoped for the best. After hours of walking on my swollen, post-plane feet, I was pleasantly surprised to notice my dogs were not barking. Like, at all. And I didn’t have a single blister. Walking on the memory foam insoles through uneven cobblestone streets and ancient ruins surprisingly felt like walking on clouds. The only issue? It was intermittently pouring rain, and neither suede nor espadrilles are made for that kind of forecast. Still, the shoes remained in pristine shape—even after my husband accidentally flooded the bathroom and drenched my shoes in the process. To his credit, he did blow-dry them back to life. Still, my Charlotte Stone shoes looked good as new.
I wore my Syrah-colored espadrilles with white jeans and striped sweaters all around Rome, and by our arrival in Amalfi, they had also became my favorite dinner companions. I wore them instead of sandals during the days we spent exploring the area’s rocky beaches, and they even made an appearance at the wedding, once the dancing began. The best part? Thanks to Jane Birkin, espadrilles will pretty much never go out of style, so I plan on hanging on to these puppies for a while. Now that’s amore.