Spectator shoe

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Men's circa 1930 oxford full brogue spectator shoes

The spectator shoe, also known as co-respondent shoe, is a style of low-heeled, oxford, semi-brogue or full brogue constructed from two contrasting colours, typically having the toe and heel cap and sometimes the lace panels in a darker colour than the main body of the shoe.[1][2][3] This style of shoe dates from the nineteenth century but reached the height of popularity during the 1920s and 1930s.[4]


Common colour combinations include a white shoe body with black, brown or tan toe and heel caps, but other colours can be used. The spectator is typically an all leather shoe, but can be constructed using a canvas, mesh or suede body. The spectator was originally constructed of willow calf leather and white buck or reverse calf suede. The white portion was sometimes made from a mesh material, for better ventilation in hot weather.[citation needed]

Saddle shoe[edit]

The saddle shoe, another style of two-tone oxford shoe, can be distinguished from the spectator shoe by noting the saddle shoe's plain toe and distinctive, saddle-shaped decorative panel placed mid foot.

Origin of name[edit]

John Lobb, the famous English footwear maker, claimed to have designed the first spectator shoe as a cricket shoe in 1868.[citation needed]

In the 1920s and 1930s in England, this style was considered too flamboyant for a gentleman, and therefore was called a tasteless style. Because the style was popular among lounge lizards and cads, who were sometimes associated with divorce cases, a nickname for the style was co-respondent shoe, a pun on the colour arrangement on the shoe, and the legal description of a third party caught in flagrante delicto with the guilty party in a case of adultery. Wallis Simpson was famed for wearing this style, although it was said that she was an adulteress and that it was Edward VIII who acted the part of co-respondent.[5]

In television[edit]

In the 1920s crime drama, "Boardwalk Empire", the character Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, can be seen wearing spectators, especially in the opening credits sequence.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Drummond 2010.
  2. ^ Matthes 2006, p. 263.
  3. ^ Schur, Ehrlich & Ehrlich 2007, p. 87.
  4. ^ Benstock & Ferriss 2001, p. 49.
  5. ^ World Wide Words: co-respondent shoes
  6. ^ HBO. "Boardwalk Empire". Retrieved 22 April 2018.


External links[edit]