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I could sing the praises of men's brogue shoes 'til the cows come home. Smart, versatile and oh-so classic, a gent's shoe cupboard is simply not complete without a pair or two of men's brogues. As an ode to my favourite footwear, here is everything you need to know about men's brogue shoes.
1. Brogues originate in the countryside
Modern men's brogues originate from shoes worn in Scotland and Ireland that had perforations to allow the bog water to drain away easily when their wearers' were crossing marshy land or fording a stream. They were made of untanned deer hide leather with the fur still intact for extra warmth.
2. There are different types of men's brogues
Brogues are normally defined as low-heeled Oxford shoes with perforations (also known as broguings) and stitching, which form part of their design. There are slight variations on the classic brogue, including the full brogue (or wing tip brogue), semi-brogues (or half brogues) and the co-respondent brogue.
3. Brogues were originally casual shoes
The word 'brogue' comes from the Irish and Scots Gaelic word 'bróg' taken from the Old Norse word "brók" meaning 'leg covering. The word 'brogue' originally referred to an early twentieth century casual walking shoe.
4. The wing-tip brogue is one of the most popular styles
The traditional wing tip brogue has a distinctive front broguing design in the shape of a 'W' which has a point in the centre and extends over the sides of the shoe. The wing tip shoe takes it name from this shape, which resembles the spread wings of a bird.
5. Semi-brogues are an even smarter option
Semi-brogues, also known as half brogues, don't have this distinctive 'W' shape; instead, they feature a cap toe with broguing and perforations. Designed by John Lobb LTD in 1937, men's semi-brogues were introduced as more formal footwear than full brogues.
6. Co-respondent brogue shoes are a more flamboyant alternative
Co-respondent shoes (also known as spectator shoes) are Oxford brogues where the toe cap is of a different colour to the rest of the shoe. They were popular in the 1920s and 1930s and are now considered a quirkier choice of footwear.
7. The finest leather makes the finest brogues
The finest men's brogue shoes are made of pure premium calf leather, which is the supplest kind of leather available. Not only are they therefore the most comfortable because they mould more easily to the foot, they are extremely tough and durable.
8. Black or brown men's brogues?
Men's black brogue shoes are the smartest style and are perfect for the most formal occasions including business meetings and smart office dress codes. Brown brogues are considered more contemporary and look good worn with more casual clothing such as chino trousers.
9. How to wear men's brogues shoes
Wondering what to wear with brogues? Slim men's brogues look best with a slim fit suit or pinstripe suit; add a shirt and this look is perfect for the office. For the weekend team your brogues with classic chinos or even a slim pair of denim jeans; a pair in a dark wash is the safest option.
10. Wearing the modern brogue
More recently, men's brogues are available in more contemporary styles, including those made of canvas and brogues that resemble leather trainers. Women's brogues are also very fashionable at the moment, with television presenter Alexa Chung, model Heidi Klum and actress Emma Watson all regularly sporting a pair.