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