Two Questions of Balance

Advertisement

two-questions

Two recent questions from blog readers, though touching on entirely different wardrobe items, nevertheless inspired similar thinking.

‘I have a snazzy pair of spectator shoes but I haven’t worn them yet because they don’t go with my suits. What can I wear them with?’

Spectator shoes (or ‘co-respondent’ shoes) are increasingly popular, and the credit for their renaissance should be given to the brave souls who sport them as part of their everyday wear, but opinion is divided as to their suitability for the workplace. Wearing a sober, blue or grey wool suit with dual-toned shoes, outside of the fashion industry, is often perceived to be costumey and brash; the dark silhouette is abruptly ended with a pair of incongruous dazzlers which will draw all the attention.

The most ideal outfits with which to sport spectator shoes are ‘combination’ outfits; a jacket of one colour, trousers of another. A blue blazer, grey trousers and brown and white spectators draws attention to the whole ensemble because of the colour/material contrasting. The shoes will certainly draw more attention than a pair of plain black Oxfords, but they won’t stick out like a sore thumb. Similarly, instead of wearing a pair of black and white spectators – the trickiest combination shoes to pull off, in my opinion – with a grey or blue suit and suffering the endless gangster innuendos and the uncomfortable feelings of being too theatrical, some dark blue trousers and a light grey jacket, perhaps a houndstooth, will offset the drama of your footwear neatly.

‘I have started to wear bowties to work recently but I think it’s a bit much to add a pocket square. Do you have any tips on whether to wear both or one or the other?’

It’s fantastic that men are now sufficiently confident to don a bow tie for a day at the office; it wasn’t so long ago, in the darkness of the dress-down nineties, that getting them to adorn themselves with any necktie on was a challenge of Herculean proportions. The bow is very different to the tie. It has a more conspicuous, floral aesthetic and, because of this, a particularly puffy, patterned pocket square can sometimes look a little over the top.

One option is to go without a square. Clothing is about balance and if something feels a little excessive, it probably is. However, some gentlemen do not feel comfortable without a square in their breast pocket; the nakedness of it is disturbing and inconsistent with their habit and character. Not to include a square is almost more contrived than selecting one that complements sufficiently. I myself advocate the bow-and-square look, but for work I balance it with a plain white, folded square instead of a patterned, colourful silk puff; one extravagance, for the office, is quite enough.


Advertisement

Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. Alexander says:

    Shame on anyone who owns a pair of spectator shoes and doesn’t wear them as often as possible. I have longed for a good pair of brown and white spectators for a while now but for the life of me cannot find a single shop that sells them. Or at least not outside of the City, and not to any sort of budget.

  2. Kai says:

    Great more casual alternative to spectators are saddle shoes. Perfect for this time of year.

  3. Laurence says:

    Alexander, I’d recommend Herring Shoes for a choice of nice spectator shoes.
    http://www.herringshoes.co.uk

    I bought a pair of their Henley shoes for my wedding this summer and they looked great. They have several different types on offer. Their new Salisbury shoe is very appealing,but I don’t know when I’d ever get a chance to wear them.

    Saw some lovely Edward Green shoes on ebay today,but slightly too small and anyway a good bit out of my price range.
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?VISuperSize&item=320767857411

  4. Laurence says:

    Also check out the Barker Cambridge in brown and cream. I’ve tried them on in barker’s Regent Street shop, and they look nicer than they do online.

    For bargains, keep looking at ebay. Many factory seconds come up for sale at reduced price.