For the discerning club player whose sense of style extends beyond his follow through, there is good news as far as his feet are concerned: classic two-tone shoes of supple leather and suede, along with nubuck, scotchgrain and the occasional exotic skin, are once again de rigueur on and off the course.Believe it or not, fashions on Main Street once took their cues from the fairway, as the links legends of the Roaring Twenties helped introduce leather two-tone shoes to the American public. Gene Sarazen wore white buck golf shoes trimmed with black leather in the early 1920s, becoming the first professional of note to walk the greens in two tones. In 1925, the dapper Walter Hagen would sport two-tone black and white wing tip golf shoes at Long Island’s swank Lido Club. And the next year, Bobby Jones championed brown and white two-tone shoes, thereby setting the pace for inventive new color combinations, including tan with brown as well as black with brown.
Over the next several decades, what began as a bold gesture on the golf course became a sartorial phenomenon, with men and women around the world sporting two tones at Sunday brunch and social gatherings. The first suede varieties appeared on the Duke of Windsor, a male fashion icon if one ever existed, who cherished his two tones and experimented with different styles (like his beloved “kilties,” or lace-up Oxfords with a tongue of fringed leather that drapes over the instep and covers the laces and eyelets). While the popularity of two-tone shoes has fluctuated over time, many men and women have always kept a pair in their closet, waiting for the inevitable time when styles would swing back their way. Fortunately, that day has come, as the two-tone shoes of the Twenties are once again in style (though trouser legs, unlike some trends of that era, are mercifully more restrained). Even plus fours, Fair Isle sweater vests and argyle socks are back in vogue, all fashion ideas championed by the great golfers of yesterday. But beware of knickers and stockings—their time has not yet come.