From the off I’m calling them a Co-respondent shoe. The Americans file it under a different guise – the Spectator. A shoe with the following attributes; low-heeled, oxford, semi or full brogue and is constructed from two contrasting tones. Legend has it that John Lobb (Northampton based shoe icon), designed the first of its kind as a cricket shoe in 1868. Although the main popularity of this came into full swing around the 1920s and 1930s – brought on by a notable Duke Of Windsor (Check out the last post) when he chose to wear a tan and white co-respondent shoe during a visit to America in 25′.
Color combinations most commonly include a white shoe body with either a black, brown or tan toe and heel caps. Although that isn’t the gospel. My own pair is Ox-blood with black detailing. The materials used; typically all leather, however they can be made using a canvas, mesh or suede.
Back in the days when every discerning gentleman had a pair of co-respondent shoes in his wardrobe, they were a casual piece of footwear. They would be worn with cream trousers and an open-necked shirt. It was made as a spring/summer shoe and at time was constructed out of lighter weight material for better ventilation in hot weather.
Now there’s word going round as I was looking into this subject that in the 30s’ a pair of co-respondents would be left outside a hotel room as a signal that adultery was being committed within… If anyone’s able to back that up please let us know.
In times of trail and tribulation these shoes offered a gentlemen a ‘get out of jail free card’ in some respects. Modernism, hedonism and dandyism were the orders of the day and the act of judging a gentlemen by his shoes was never more legally compelling.
Today the correspondent has a place in any man wardrobe. They’re not there as a pair to wear for dress up – no longer an overt statement, they give a knowing nod to the elegant dressing of a bygone, but still resonant age.
London based shoe designer Marc Hare (Mr Hare) says that these shoes ‘declare the wearer is thinking and dressing in a nonconformist manner, but with an old-fashioned spirit and elegance. Some demonstrate sartorial bravery, while many reveal good taste, and knowledge of the shoe zeitgeist’.
So looking for a shoe with a bit more snap. I think these would be a spohisticated contender to add to any shoe arsenal.