The Spectator, or Co-respondent, shoe is a flamboyant style with a colourful name – most are either semi-brogue or full brogue, but an Oxford Spectator is also possible. A toecap or wing tip is certainly necessary. The Spectator is constructed from two contrasting colours as shown in the Loake Sloane on the left. The style apparently goes back to the nineteenth century but was most popular during the Great Gatsby/Bertie Wooster period – the 1920s and 1930s. Reginald Jeeves, however, might have considered Bertie’s Spectators “a little sudden” … like Bertie’s socks!
Nonetheless, the Co-respondent shoe makes an explicit appearance in Sebastian Faulks’ affectionate (and excellent, IMHO) homage to Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.
John Lobb – the well-known maker of bespoke shoes – is believed to have designed the first Spectator shoe as a cricket shoe in 1868 and then it was adopted by spectators (!) at golf and racing as (a) an alternative to spats and/or (b) a fashionably white shoe with dark bits at ground level to avoid staining. In the Swing era in England in England, the Spectator shoe was associated with cads, bounders and flash company – it therefore (apparently) became associated with adultery and divorce. It thus also became known as a Co-respondent shoe, the legal description of a third party caught In flagrante delicto with the guilty party in a case of adultery. The Duke of York (briefly King Edward!) was very fond of them, as was his wife, Wallis. He was almost a co-respondent (she was already divorced, I think) – so he almost fits that name too!
Spectators have never enjoyed the popularity they did in the Swing era and are always associated with Bertie Woosterish clothes (white Oxford bags, probably) . However, Suggs from national treasures Madness, is a fan of Spectators and Loake’s own Oliver Coker shows on the right that they can look pretty cool with a pair of jeans … showy, in-your-face and quite edgy! Spectacular Spectators … PS – for obvious reasons, Spectators need special care when cleaning.