Stylish shoes are a necessity for any fashionable gent, and brogues are the masters of style. They’re the classically cool shoes worn by gangsters in the Untouchables, and celebrity cads like Jude Law.
Not sure when or how to wear men’s brogues? Here’s a quick answer:
For formal wear, keep to a single dark colour ideally black. Opt for a more conservative semi or quarter brogue and make sure your they’re polished. For smart casual anything goes. Be bold and try a two tone, full brogue. Or for a more subtle yet sophisticated look, a pair of brown suede brogues are perfect.
For more detailed style advice and all you need to know about brogues, read on:
Why were brogues born?
Brogues were originally intended for use on boggy landscapes, with perforations to allow water to seep out. These perforations have now become decorative and in general terms, a brogue shoe is a dress shoe with patterning.
Oxfords, Derbys, monk shoes and boots are all available in brogue styles with different closures and varying levels of decoration.
Wingtips are brogues with the decorations, or broguing, stretching across much of the shoe; forming a wing-like shape on the toe cap. Semi-brogues have the decorative pattern across the toe cap whereas quarter-brogues only have the pattern on the edges of the toe.
The traditional/formal way
As mens brogues were used less for coping with the rigours of boggy land, they were finished to a higher standard and became a lot smarter. As a dress shoe, brogues go naturally well with a suit but if used for formal attire, it is important to keep them shiny.
Semi or quarter brogues are a much better option for formal dress as the more simplified style stops the outfit from becoming too casual. If the wearer is to opt for a full brogue, or wingtip, then it is important that the shoe is leather, and is single toned.
The modern/casual way
The versatile nature of brogues means they are equally at home as part of a soft casual outfit, perhaps with some cotton chinos and a checked shirt. Slimmer fitting trousers that show a small bit of ankle also work well, as they show off the decorative nature of the shoe.
Suede brogues offer a much more casual look than their leather counterpart. But just like you would with a pair of suede chelsea boots, it is important to look after them. Scruffy suede just looks scruffy, not casually cool.
What to avoid
Because brogues have become so popular for formal and casual styles, there isn’t a lot you can do wrong. But there are a few key points to consider.
Trousers that are quite baggy don’t work well with any dress shoe, and a brogue is no exception. Cargo trousers can be worn with brogues, but it is essential they aren’t too big; if they are, the wearer will look like they have tiny titsy feet.
As with anything to do with fashion, colours are important. Tan brogues go well with navy outfits, black brogue work well as part of work suit and for colourful brogues, try and coordinate with your accessories.
Famous brogue wearers
Over time there have been some famous brogue wearers. Jack Nicholson, Robbie Williams and Jude Law are just a few famous folk who have donned the patterned footwear.
The most famous wearers of brogues are gangsters in wingtips. With a suit, a tommy gun and a bad attitude, they prove that even two tone wingtips can look good, if not a bit intimidating.
What are your top style tips for wearing brogues and what do you think should be avoided?