Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Spectators are dress shoes – men’s or women’s – that are two-toned.  Traditionally, the shoes are black-and-white, although there has always been a brown-and-white version.  Although this type of shoe was around from the mid- 19th century, it was only when the Duke of Windsor and the actor Fred Astaire started wearing them that they became truly popular. 

Spectators are either wing tipped (so called because of the shape of the front piece) or capped toe.  The toe and the heel are usually the same color although designers vary this as well.  Black-and-white spectators are considered “white” shoes for the purposes of fashion.  That is, they should be worn in the spring or summer only. 

Originally, the spectator for both sexes had a flat heel, but obviously women’s footwear designers long ago gave the shoe a heel that adds to its elegance and chic.  There is a theory that the spectator developed as a walking shoe, with the heel and toe in black to hide grass stains.  Stains which  a “spectator” (person, not shoe) would incur at the races or on the golf course. 

I think this shoe is one of the most elegant of accessories and one that designers often feature in their collections.  A woman dressed in a high-heeled spectator pump or sling-back, with a handbag of equal allure, is someone to contend with.  

'Til next time.  

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