So then Laddy…
Brogues have their origin in 16th century Scotland & Ireland as a rudimentary, low-heeled shoe design, traditionally characterised by its sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforation (the brogued bit) and serration across the shoe’s visible parts. Traditionally considered outdoor of country footwear (these were the sports shoes of their time), the shoe’s original design allowed water to drain when crossing the wet terrain that is the predominant makeup of the Scottish highlands. Used over marshes and bogs, these shoes where not always considered suitable for the kinds of formal occasions we may use them in today.
Continuing with history – the brogue style shoes were most commonly found in one of the following styles. Let’s get into detail:
Full brogues (also known as wingtips) are characterised by a pointed toe cap with extensions (wings) that run along both sides of the toe, terminating near the ball of the foot. Viewed from the top, this toe cap style is “W” shaped and looks similar to a bird with extended wings, explaining the style name “wingtips” that is commonly used in the US. The toe cap of a full brogue is both perforated and serrated along its edges and includes additional decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap. A shoe with a wingtip-style toecap but no perforations is known as an “austerity brogue”, while a plain-toe shoe with wingtip-style perforations is a “blind brogue”.
Spectator shoes (British English: Co-respondent shoes) are full brogue Oxfords constructed from two contrasting colours, typically having the toe and heel cap and sometimes the lace panels in a darker color than the main body of the shoe. Common color combinations include a white shoe body with either black or tan caps, but other colours can be used.
Semi-brogues (or Half brogues)
Toe cap detail of a man’s semi-brogue (or half brogue) dress shoe, semi-brogues (also known as half brogues) are characterised by a toe cap with decorative perforations and serration along the cap’s edge and includes additional decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap. The half brogue was first designed and produced by John Lobb Ltd as an Oxford in 1937 in an effort to offer his customers a shoe more stylish than a plain oxford, yet not as bold as a full brogue.
Men’s quarter brogue Oxford dress shoesQuarter brogues are characterised by a cap toe with decorative perforations and serrations along the cap’s edge, however, unlike semi-brogues, quarter brogues have no decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap.
Long-wing brogues (also known in the US as “English” brogues, and also known in the UK as “American” brogues) are Derby style shoes characterised by a pointed toe cap with wings that extend the full length of the shoe, meeting at a center seam at the heel. Long-wing Derby brogues were most popular in the US during the 1970s, and although the popularity of this style has decreased, it remains available.
The Ghillie style of full brogue Oxford has no tongue, to facilitate drying, and long laces which wrap around the leg above the ankle and tie below the calf to facilitate keeping the tie clear of mud. Despite the functional aspects of their design, ghillies brogues are most commonly seen as a component of traditional, formal Scottish dress and are worn primarily for social occasions.
The Derby shoe (also called Gibson) is a style of Men’s shoe characterized by shoelace eyelet tabs that are sewn on top of a single-piece vamp. This construction method, also known as “open lacing”, contrasts with that of the Oxfords. In American English the Derby shoe may be referred to as a Blücher. In modern colloquial English, the Derby shoe may be referred to as “bucks,” when the upper is made of buckskin. The Derby became a popular sporting and hunting boot in the 1850s. By the turn of the 20th century, the Derby had become appropriate for wear in town.
A monk shoe is a style of shoe with no lacing, closed by a buckle and strap. It is a moderately formal shoe: less formal than a full Oxford (American: Balmoral); but more so than an open Derby (American: Blücher). In between these, it is one of the main categories of men’s shoes. It often has a cap toe, is occasionally brogued, and is popular in suede.
We think the unique design and ornate style is what changed the traditionally patriarchal perspective on brogues. These days, brogues come in a multitude of designs and styles, offering varied reinterpretations. For the last two seasons we’ve seen these items pared with chinos, button-down shirts and cardigans; simple artisan style tee-shirts, sports jackets and blazers. They are typically worn with (or without) secret socks or bright, vibrantly-patterned ‘happy’ socks; or mated with neutral coloured-suits. Brogues switch it up – overturning traditionally accepted fashion norms. And the ladies love ’em too! A fitting tribute to the androgynous stars of the 20’s and 30’s like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, wouldn’t you say?
Today, brogues still often feature cutouts, though they’re more for fashion than function. Rock this city-slicker favorite in leather or suede with a two-piece suit or blue jeans. Or hurdle some style bonus points and try a pair with multicolored soles and seam stitching. Check out ALDO, Hudson and Replay for exclusive designs and high quality brogues.