Brogue as a footwear term is dervied from the Gaelic word for shoe.
Brogue as a shoe term was used to describe footwear worn by Irish field workers and Scottish Highlanders who allegedly compensated for the wet climates and boggy soil by
punching holes in their shoes to facilitate drainage and drying. This
functional practice spread through the United Kingdom, eventually it was adopted by English shoe
and bootmakers, however instead of serving as a ventilation system the
small symmetrically placed holes were used to enhance the appearance of a
particular shoe or boot.
Today broguing refers to certain holes or perforations seen on the
outside of a shoe. Brogue as a term has nothing to do with the closure
used to fasten a shoe and can also be seen on shoes and boots without
closure systems. A wingtip shoe may sport broguing just as a
Balmoral may have been brogued. Oxford as a generic shoe term is
both useful and useless since the umbrella term may be used to refer to:
wingtips (both brogued or plain), Balmorals, (likewise), and other
boots and shoes with various closures: laces, ties, buckles
Many sites (and people) refer to the wingtipped shoe as a brogue and
vice versa, however these are separate distinctions. To qualify as a
wingtip and a brogue the shoe must bear the wing design and have the
perforations marking it as a brogue. While it is true that most wingtips
are brogued to some degree they do not have to be so please be careful
to classify your footwear properly. A brogue must have broguing on it
somewhere except in one special case, which will be covered later. Where
the broguing is located and how far along a shoe they travel determines
Quarter brogue: this shoe usually has a decorative toe cap,
broguing appears as a line of demarcation that separates the toe cap
from the vamp of a shoe. This is the least brogued and most formal of
the brogued shoes.
Semi-brogue (half brogue): semi-brogues wear their broguing
mainly on the toe or toe cap. The shoe may include broguing on the toe
cap seam. Wingtips are usually, but not always, semi-brogues.
Full brogue: The most casual of the brogued shoes broguing
is more extensive on these shoes than the quarter and semi-brogue. This
shoe may also be a wingtip but does not have to be.
Longwing: This shoe is a winged shoe however its maker has
chosen to extend the wings so they run the full length of the shoe and
meet at the rear closure seam. A popular shoe in the 1970s the Longwing
is cut on narrower lines than most fuller fitting brogues. Included
here as it is typically a brogued shoe, usually a full brogue.
Blind brogue: The blind brogue is a
wing tipped shoe without a separate wingtip overlay. Instead the wings
are formed by the broguing. The reverse of this, the wing overlay
minus any broguing is known as an austerity brogue. The austerity
brogue is the only shoe without broguing that is still referred to as a
Medallion is another term that deserve mention in a brogue
discussion. Suppose a shoe that lacks a toe cap has a central brogued
design. That would properly be called a medallion. Used by artisans to
add distinction and decoration to a shoe the medallion is limited only
by imagination. A sampling of medallions to watch for include: the ram's
head, fleur de lis, circular designs, and a geometric argyle.
The degree of broguing and the type of material used to
create a shoe defines how dressy or casual a particular brogue will be.
The more broguing the shoe has the less formal the shoe is just as
lighter colors are more casual than darker ones. Several sites state
that strictly speaking a brogue should not be paired with a suit and
more appropriately complements: pinstriped or tweed trousers, chinos, or
dark straight legged jeans. Black is an acceptable color for office
wear or more formal occasions while brown and other color variants may
be worn for casual outings.
Hopefully this guide has helped clarify certain shoe specific terms
however please remember that what a shoe looks like is relatively
unimportant. Exquisite footwear is useless and potentially harmful if it
does not fit your foot. As you approach higher end items snobbery has a
tendency to invade the expert and vanquish the unarmed. Ignorance is an
opportunity for education, treating it as such will garner you business
your less savvy competitors have lost.
balances the wearer. It helps maintain proper spinal alignment and it
can prevent injury to the foot as well as joints that stack above the
ankles. Whether you care about minor shoe embellishments that most
people fail to notice please buy the best fitting footwear you can
afford. Small problems have a way of turning into larger ones, ignoring
your foot health may come with a price tag that far exceeds the most
expensive shoes out there so do your body a favor; pay attention to both
of your lowest extremities so you never lose the ability to move each
of your well shod feet forward.
- Samples of various brogues.
- Medallion broguing
- Wikipedia. Provides a good image of a brogued Ghillie tie.
- Example of a blind brogue.