The Toned Down Spectator

I’ve been wanting to get a pair of spectators this year, but have been hesitating on the purchase. For those unfamiliar, the spectator (also known as the correspondent) is a two-toned shoe made from a mix of leather and white buckskin or canvas. They’re traditionally worn in the summer with linen suits or light-colored trousers and an open-necked shirt. 

My shyness comes from an uncertainty over whether they’re too costumey. Stylish, older gentlemen seem to pull them off with aplomb, but they have a sort of affected neo-1920s look on younger men. Still, I do like the look of spectators in the summer. 

One solution is to get a pair with less contrasting colors. Perhaps something in a tan leather and light-brown suede, or a dark chestnut leather and chocolate brown suede. These will leap out a bit less than the traditional variety of black or brown with white. 

Carmina has such a pair that I really like. The lighter-colored version is built on a more elongated last than the dark pair, but either can be custom built on any last for a 30% surcharge. A bit more expensive is Edward Green’s Malvern, which can be made with any color combination through their made-to-order program (I recommend going through Leffot). Ethan Desu also posted a pair by Gaziano and Girling that was a bit interesting, and a few years ago, LeatherSoul had one made up through Alden. Those may still be around if you ask. For something much cheaper, try Herring. The materials don’t look as nice as the aforementioned models, but they’re significantly more affordable.

I may try out the Carminas later this month. I suspect I won’t get them until the end of August, which means I be able to wear them this season, but another summer will come around soon enough. When it does, I’ll see if I can’t wear these with some cream linen trousers, a cigar brown sport coat, and a pale-blue dress shirt. 

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