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The history of Brogues

The history of a timeless classic, the brogue. Once an outdoor shoe that is now a gentleman's staple worn time and time again.

Gentlemen's dress is all about subtleties. So much so that even a sartorial guru can find himself lost in the intricacies of style, fit and the tiny details that really make a piece.

There are many versions of the history and entomology of the men's brogues but what is clear is this style started life as a Gaelic outdoor shoe in the hell of the 18th century. The distinctive punched holes that we have come to associates with men's brogue shoes were originally perforated all the way through the upper and in the beginning were a practical not decorative feature designed to let water out walking on a boggy ground.

A history of men's brogue shoe

They were considered as country or outdoor shoes until the 1920s. When elegant versions of the shoe became very fashionable, status was even further confirmed when in 1930 the Prince of Wales wore spectator (black and white contrast) brogues to play golf.

Until recent time brown brogues were still considered to be country attire and were often made on a double sole or commando sole with a derby upper, black brogues became popular as city or more formal shoes in the 1980's and were more often than not made using an Oxford construction on a single Goodyear welted sole.

Oliver Sweeney was instrumental in the popularisation of these styles during his time as creative director of McAfee shoes in the 1980's. Also, during this era, the welted suede brogue became very popular as a casual style. In addition, to the brogue shoe, the mens brogue boot and the tan brogue shoe became very on trend from the late 1990's onward.

We've been making extraordinary shoes for over 25 years and are at the top of our game. We're big fans of traditional shoemaking but are always putting new twists on classic styles to keep challenging our craftsman and surprising our customers. Every man should own at least one pair of brogues. They go with everything from suits to jeans- so you can wear them to the office, a wedding, the park, the pub. But which brogues are right for you?

Brogues fall into two main constructions- the derby brogue where the facing is sewn onto the vamp as you can see on the image below of our Saunders Derby Brogue.

Saunders Derby Brogue

This differs on the oxford brogue where you can see that the vamp is sewn onto the quarters. Craftsmanship, construction, comfort, longevity are key when buying a pair of brogues.

Aldeburgh Oxford Brogue

Additionally there are a number of separate variants:- The American or Longwing Brogue where the wing-tip (the w shaped piece on the top of the shoe) sweeps back to the head counter.

Endellion Brown Brogue The semi-brogue characterised by a straight decorative toecap instead of the original wing-tip. This is more detailed than a plain oxford but slightly less than a brogue.

Moorgate Black Brogues How to wear brogues

As can be seen above the mens brogue has become a wardrobe staple and will remain so for many years to come. The tan heavier brogues look amazing with chinos and especially denim, a more formal oxford like aldeburgh is perhaps the most versatile of shoes, equally at home in a smart casual setting as with a more formal trouser or suit. Here are a small selection of our most popular brogues to get you salivating. Feel free to explore the full collection, ask us for advice or even seek out one of our stores and try them on for yourself.

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Published April 2018