This Royally-Inspired Two-Tone Shoe Trend Is One We’re Definitely Carrying into 2024

It was all the rage with Princess Diana, too

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As a royal watcher (and co-host of the Royally Obsessed podcast), I’ve always got my eye on what the royals are wearing. That’s why, this summer and well into fall, I’ve been paying attention to a recurring sartorial trend: Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Princess Beatrice and Queen Camilla are all embracing the two-tone Spectator shoe.

duke of windsor spectator shoe 1930
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What Is the Spectator Shoe?

The Spectator shoe actually originated as a footwear option for men back in the 1930s. Even back then it had a royal connection: The Duke of Windsor (Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle) is said to have popularized the style, wearing it frequently to men’s sporting events.

Ultimately, it evolved to have a more feminine design. Today, the Spectator style typically takes the form of a dress shoe with a contrasting two-tone color palette—usually with a classic (and neutral) combination of hues like black and white, tan and white or black and tan—being its distinguishing part.

princess diana spectator shoe 1987
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Princess Diana Also Wore the Style

While the Spectator shoe dipped in and out of style over the decades since it was first introduced, it had a huge resurgence in the 1980s, the exact same time that Princess Diana hit the scene.

Diana seemed to adore the style, pairing it with everything from polka dots to a poofy dress and blazer (see the above image of Diana at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987).

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Kate, Meghan & Beatrice Are Reviving the Style

Trend alert: As mentioned, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and Princess Beatrice have all stepped out wearing Spectator shoes—both pumps and flats—this year. Most recently, we saw Markle wearing her go-to Chanel flats at the Invictus Games in October. (She paired them with shorts and a cardigan.) Kate has also relied heavily on the Spectator style, sporting a pair of Alessandra Rich slingbacks on repeat this summer. (She’s worn them with polka dot, but also jewel-toned, dresses.) Even Queen Camilla donned a low-heeled version of the Spectator style—also Chanel—to a reception at Buckingham Palace this month. As for Beatrice, she chose a low-heeled pair of Spectator shoes for Royal Ascot. (Note: The exact royal styles are past season or sold out.)

Brands are following suit, too—we’re seeing two-tone options as staples in collections from forever favorites like Vivaia, Rothy’s, Tory Burch and more.

A royal trend to take with us into 2024? We’re all for it.

Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...