Add some jazz to your wardrobe with two-tone brogues

Samuel Windsor two tone shoes

Two-tone shoes are a great way to add colour and texture to your wardrobe.
Image source: Samuel Windsor

Spectator shoes were the in-your-face black and white brogues Al Capone and the rest of the Chicago mob wore. But this isn’t prohibition, and it shouldn’t be about exhibitionism either – two tone brogues are about style perfectionism.

To help you add a touch of jazz to your autumn / winter wardrobe here’s the lowdown on spectator shoes and how to make them work for you.
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What are country brogues?

what are country brogues

Ready to embrace the country way?

Brogues have become the shoe for stylish folk. But are there any other types of brogues you could be missing out on?

The answer could be yes. You could well be missing out on the wonderful world of country brogues.

Not sure what they are? Well read on…

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Why brogues have holes and other footwear facts

mens leather brogue shoes

Ghillie brogues were given holes for drainage
Source: Serge Cornu

Brogues, cowboy boots and even the humble welly, are often seen in showbiz magazines, wrapping the feet of fashionistas.

But these shoes are born from hardworking, practical and sometimes noble ancestry.

To find out why brogues have holes and other fascinating footwear facts, read on:

Ghillie brogues

A ghillie is a highland gentleman’s right hand man. In a modern context, highland estates employ ghillies to work as guides, for paying guests. They’ll help you to find the fish, or reload your gun while you wait for the next flight of grouse.

A ghillie can also refer to a gamekeeper. In times past, if you were a ‘ghillie-weetfit’, it was your job to carry the master over streams and bogs. Hence the need for footwear with holes through which the water could drain the ghillie – brogue.

Cowboy boots

The slow slouch of a stetson wearing, gun toting cowboy wouldn’t be the same without his boots. But the cowboy boot was designed for practicality – not just looks. A decent pair of boots could save your life.

The pointed toe and smooth sole, made for easy insertion into the stirrups and the high sides could protect your lower legs from those pesky rattlesnakes. But the real lifesaver was the loose fit and that long, cutaway heel.

Even the best cowpokes come a cropper every now and again. That long heel stops your foot getting caught in the stirrup. The fit meant that even if it did – the boot would fall off rather than trap you. Preventing the cowboy’s worst nightmare – being dragged behind a bolting steed.

Wellington boots

Today’s rubber wellies are a far cry from the original Wellington boot. The Duke of Wellington invented two versions of his namesake. The first was a cut down version of the Hessian boot – of German origin and the standard footwear of cavalry officers. For himself he asked his cobbler to make a calf length model – hard wearing for use in the field – comfortable enough to wear in the evening.

For his mounted troops, Wellington’s innovation was of greater consequence. He noticed that many of his cavalrymen were getting shot in the knee. He realised boots cut much higher could act as a guard, protecting the wearer’s vulnerable knees from bullets.

Feet and hands?

Most of us know what size shoe we take – but do you know how it’s calculated? Our feet are measured in hands – and barleycorns – typically archaic British measurements. A child’s size zero equates to one hand – or four inches. Thereafter, each increment is equal to a third of an inch – a measurement known as a ‘barley corn’.

Over the channel – the French revolution led to the decimalisation of everything including, for a time, the number of days in a week. But it didn’t work for feet. A full centimetre increment is too large, a half centimetre too small. The French went for a two thirds of a centimetre gap between shoe sizes – known as a Paris point.

Last but not least

Ever wondered why a shoe maker calls the mould he uses to make shoes a ‘last’? Far from being a load of cobblers, the word is derived from the Old English ‘laeste,’ which means track, footprint or trace.