History of the Brogue
Modern brogues originated in Scotland and Ireland and were initially constructed using untanned hide with small perforations. The perforations were created for functionality, allowing water to drain through the footwear when walking in wet terrain. The design has since evolved and the perforations are now mostly for decorative purposes, in fact, it is this patterned detailing that brogues are identified by.
Different Styles of Brogues
Brogues are divided into two groups: the Derby with open lacing and the Oxford with enclosed lacing. Brogues are further defined by the different types of perforations featured on the shoe. These include the full brogue or wing tip, the half brogue, quarter brogue and the longwing brogues.
Full Brogue (Wing Tip)
Full brogues are the most iconic of the style and are characterised by the pointed toe cap with wing-like extensions that run along both sides of the shoe. When viewed from the top the toe cap looks as though it has a ‘W’ shape.
Half Brogue:The half brogue or semi-brogues are characterised by the toe cap with decorative punched detailing and serrations along both the toe cap edges and in the centre of the cap. Half brogues tend to be more formal than full brogues.
Quarter brogues are defined by their straight toe cap with decorative detailing along the cap’s edge, but nothing in the middle of the toe cap. As with the half brogue, quarter brogues are a popular choice for work wear because the full broguing can seem busy, thus the quarter brogue is the perfect dress shoe.
Longwing brogues tend to be the least popular style (their popularity peaked in the United States during the ‘70s) and they are characterised by the fact that they have no toe cap patterning, just edge perforations.
How to Wear Brogues
The word brogue is said to have been introduced into the English language in the late sixteenth century and stems from the Gaelic word bróg, ‘shoe’ taken from the old Norse ‘Brók’ meaning leg covering.
The style was once considered an outdoor or country shoe and not acceptable for formal occasions, but has since evolved to include a variety of different styles that have now become acceptable in most formal occasions.
The brogue style has been refined without losing any of its sturdiness and although the classic brogue is designed in brown leather, there are now multiple colours, styles and materials available, including patent leather and suede. The versatility of the shoe means that it can be worn with various different outfits including everything from slim blue jeans and simple v-neck shirts, to chambray shirts and chinos. These days the classic brogue can even be worn with a two-piece pin-stripe suit.
Due to their timeless appeal, it has even become acceptable to wear brogues as part of business attire. More heavily brogued shoes tend to go better with jeans, while the less brogued styles tend to pair better with suits – it’s best to avoid the two-toned look for the office.
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