Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
Brogues are a staple piece of footwear that every guy should have in his wardrobe. However, a lot of men are wondering how they should wear men’s brogues and what pieces to style them with.
The recognisable pattern running along the edges of the design is what gives the brogues there name. The rows of holes and perforations which follow the shape of the shoe create a piece of footwear that can be worn for both smart and casual situations. However, there’s no room for error when styling these shoes as the iconic pattern’s punched into each leather piece, so you really don’t want to over complicate things.
With the ability to boost your shoe rack with some classic charm, brogue shoes are most definitely a timeless item of men’s fashion. So now that you’ve decided that you need a pair in your life (because why else would you still be reading?) it’s time to figure out what ones you actually want. Luckily for you, this guide will help you find a pair of brogues that’ll help you put your best foot forward, whether you’re out and about casually, or need a shoe for work.
Pick a Pattern
All of these dots can leave your head spinning, so we’ve broken down the designs for you. There are a few variations of the brogue, the quarter brogue and the full brogue are probably being the main two. But you never know when it’ll come in handy to know a full brogue from a wingtip, so here’s the difference.
First up, there is the quarter brogue. These are the simplest of the lot and the best go-to choice for occasion wear. The patterning on the quarter brogue is minimal and simple, which a lot of men seek in a shoe. The semi-brogue is very versatile as they are a halfway point in between the quarter and full brogue. If the minimal detailing of the quarter isn’t enough for you, but the full brogue is too much, the semi-brogue is the one for you. These look great when paired with a full suit or suit trousers.
The full brogue (or wingtips) have the most detail of the lot. They are also referred to as wingtips because of the W shape at the front of the shoe. These are great for adding that extra touch of classic detail to your outfit. And if you thought there couldn’t be any more variations we also have the longwing brogue. The longwing brogue is a more casual style of the wingtip – the ends of the tip go right down the side of the shoe. Therefore, longwing brogues are probably best with vintage style looks.
How to Wear Brogues?
Due to their traditional roots, it’s best to keep your outfit on the smarter side – keep your trackies away from these please. However chinos and denim are still a great choice to go for with a brogue style shoe. For a smart look, tie things together neatly with a matching belt. Keep the colours similar and pair brown with brown, and black with black. For those of you feeling the heat, you can even try pairing a pair of tailored shorts with brogues? Just make sure you wear them with a short sock and you’re good to go.
How to Wear Wingtips
Wingtip shoes for men are a classic shoe design. With the detailing across the whole shoe, it’s no wonder why so many men choose to wear these shoes with pretty much everything. With a nod to the 30’s and 40’s, the wingtip shoe works best with a suit, particularly grey if you’re going with a brown pair of wingtips. The design of the wingtips mean they can liven up a classic suit look without going too over board, so if you’re bored of your plain work attire, it’s worth investing in some of these.
Brogues And Jeans
As we know, a good pair of brogues will see you through a plethora of situations and occasions if you want to keep things fairly smart, but I’m sure many of you aren’t ready to always be wearing them with a pair of trousers. Instead, team them with a pair of smart jeans. This look isn’t as far out of your reach as you may initially think. If you take a pair of raw or selvedge denim jeans and couple them with a pair of light brown brogues you’ll have a look that crosses the bridge of smart casual. If you want to heighten the look a bit further then simply add a blazer over the top.
Another great brogue option to go with jeans is the brogue boot. This gives an all-around casual look. And the brogue boots keeps the outfit as a whole a lot more casual than the shoe. Black or brown are both good choices, just make sure your jeans sit just above or slighting over the boot. Having your jeans tucked in isn’t a good look.
Wingtips and jeans can look just as good as the quarter brogue style. When wearing men’s fashion shoes with jeans, it’s best approached with a style influenced by the rough and ready mix of country clobber and thick selvedge denim. A full brogue wingtip style is hard to wear with modern tailoring or super casual clothes. So, embrace some traditional gentlemen items like leather elbow patches or flat cap when donning a wingtip with jeans.
When it comes to wearing wingtips with a suit, the look appears fairly vintage. Brogues with a suit will forever be a simple but charming combination. Black is always going to be the most formal option but you can easily put a spin on it by choosing a unique patterned shirt or interesting tie. Remember the shoes will be one of the main focal points to the outfit so you don’t want to go too over board with the pattern. A simple, classic strip or design will do just fine.
If it starts to heat up and you still want to look smart, wingtips with shorts are the way forward. Wingtips with shorts aren’t as hard to pull off as you may think. A pair of tailored or chino shorts will work best, as they bring that crisp and smart look that the brogues need. For colours, don’t go for black here as you want to be picking navy – this works well with pastel shades, keeping it summery. Blacks and dark colours will be too harsh for something like this, so try your best to avoid.
What to Wear with Brown Wingtip Shoes
Brown wingtips will give you the most wiggle room when figuring out what to wear with a wingtip. Wearing a brown or knowing how to wear tan brogues is always going to be key knowledge. Brown brogues are good because you can combine them with more or less any outfit and colour, as well as being able to wear them all year round. If brown isn’t your colour though then you could always get a pair of tan dress shoes instead, these may sound similar but they’re not as bright as a classic brown pair.
Wingtip Shoes in Black and White
Going monochrome can be a tricky one – it’s not usually the case that choosing a shade makes something harder to pull off. But the black and white wingtip takes some skill if you want to avoid looking like an extra in Bugsy Malone. Music legends like Jack White or Justin Timberlake guide the way with black and white wingtips by wearing them with pinstripe suits. This is a very vintage look, so if you’re after something with a little history then black and white are definitely for you.
Know Your Brogue Brands
Knowing what brands make the best brogues and what ones will last you a few seasons is essential. There are some brands that have been making brogues for men for generations, so your feet are in safe hands when investing in a pair by any of these classic cobblers. They may cost you a few more pennies than you’re used to but this will usually mean that they’ll last you a lot longer. The quality will be on top form and the design will be a classic.
- Grenson – If you fantasise about being in Mumford and Sons, wear tweed and possibly drive a Land Rover, then Grenson’s brogues will be right up your street. Teamed with dark denim and a casual shirt, they make the perfect brand to invest in.
- Dr Marten’s – This is the rebel’s favourite. If you’re all about pushing fashion boundaries then stick with the master. For over fifty years they’ve been making the bouncing soul classics for everyone to enjoy. From rockabilly to punk and everything in-between, Dr Marten’s have something for everyone, just tougher and punkier than everyone else.
How to Lace Brogues
When you first buy a new pair of brogues you’d be very lucky if they come already laced. But this task is usually left down to you. You’ll also want to learn these tricks if you want to change the style or pattern of the laces up a little bit. Because the brogue is such a classic shoe, you’ll probably want to stick to a classic way of lacing them. So here’s what you should do.
- Take the lace and thread either end into the bottom two holes of the brogue.
- Make sure that both ends are of an even length.
- Take one end of the lace and thread it up through the hole above and the over and across to the opposite hole and down again.
- With the same end of the lace, thread it under again, missing the hole above and put it in the next.
- Thread up, over and across to the opposite hole.
- Repeat until you’ve reached the top and do the exact same with the other side of the lace.
The History of Brogues
Like most designs that have stood the test of time, the style was originally created for a particular function. The hole styles started as a way for those living in Scotland and Ireland to drain their shoes. Trudging through a bog can mean shoes would soak up water. The holes were added to the design to let the waste escape when wading through swampy areas. Due to their working-class roots, they haven’t always been seen as a smart shoe, but that’s no longer the case. From this the shoe has developed and become a classic piece of footwear that fits into any smart casual wardrobe.
How to Wear Men’s Brogues
- Brogues are a great way to spruce up your dress shoes whilst adding a bit of classic British culture.
- Black and dark brown styles work for times when you need to look sharp. These look best on a quarter or semi brogue.
- Smarten up jeans and chinos with brown or tan full brogues.
- From a simple semi brogue to an extended wingtip, it’s up to you how eye-catching you’re ready to be!
- There are different types you can invest in. These include brogue boots or a Dr Martens version.
On That Note
From reading this you now have all you need to know about brogues! Just think about what you feel comfortable in and what you already love to wear. Whether you want to add the classic heritage of the full brogue to your denim and knits or to mix up your suit with the quarter brogue style, you should now know all of the best tips. Some good brogue shoes add character to anyone’s shoe rack, so you’ll be laced up and ready to go in no time!