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When it comes to men’s shoes, brogues are the staple to a multitude of looks. Whether you’re dressing for a smart casual event or a semi-formal occasion, a pair of brogues can completely transform your ensemble, rounding it with a sophisticated edge. Not only do brogues look great, they are incredibly wearable, providing all-round comfort, that can take you from day to night.

But where did this famous shoe come from and more importantly,  how do you style them? Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about brogues, from the history of the beloved English gentleman’s shoe to an ultimate dapper styling guide.

What is a brogue? 

The brogue style roots back to the 1600’s when the brogue was a shoe of practicality, rather than the decoration technique we associate it with today. The brogue was mainly worn by working-class men as a countryside shoe – in the early 20th century there was a shift and they became more prominent with celebrities and royalty.  A brogue can be defined by its perforated detailing, for example, the tip of the shoe forming a W shape. A common misconception is that a brogue is a type of shoe, but brogues can be seen in many forms, whether this is an Oxford or a Derby, the brogue term simply refers to the detailing. Brogues can be further classified into full brogues, semi-brogues, quarter brogues and long-wing brogues – we will further provide an overview of exactly what these terms mean.

What is the difference between an Oxford and a brogue?

While many of us may have an Oxford or brogue in our wardrobe, the difference between the two is often questioned. First of all, an Oxford is a type of shoe, while a brogue is not. The term brogue refers to the decorative perforation of leather, while Oxford is the style of shoe. 

An oxford is a dress shoe which boasts a closed lacing system. This means that the parts of the shoe that hold the shoelace eyelets are sewn under and can’t be seen on the top, making Oxford shoes the perfect partnership for suits. A classic Oxford generally has a slim silhouette and makes a sleek shoe choice. Brogues can also be seen in a Derby style with open laces

Brogues, however, are differentiated by ‘broguing’ which is a kind of ornamentation formed by small perforations. Any kind of shoe with ‘broguing’ can be considered a brogue, even if it’s an Oxford. 

Brogue shoe versions are seen as a more casual alternative to classic Oxfords with no perforation. Brogues were once associated with the countryside for use in wet conditions, the holes were a functional feature that allowed the rain or water to escape. Today, brogues are seen as a staple in any man’s wardrobe that can be worn for a plethora of occasions.  

If you’re a fan of the Oxford shape, with brogue styling, you can find combinations of them both. Oxford shoes provide a sophisticated finish to a sharp outfit, while contemporary takes on classic designs uplift both your smart and casual look. 

What do you wear brogues with?

Classic brogues are now available in a number of contemporary designs – with versatile colours and intricate detailing, you’re sure to find a brogue shoe to suit your personal tastes. Black or tan brogues are often the traditional colours of choice, however,  Moda men have a wide variety of colours to make your outfit your own. Choose from rich burgundy or sleek navy to add some character to your ensemble. All of these choices can often result in a bit of wardrobe chaos; that’s why at Moda men we like to make that decision making a little easier for you. 

Brogues are great if you’re looking for a shoe that you can easily dress up or down. Pair black or tan brogues with a well-tailored suit for formal occasions or with a pair of trousers, shirt and blazer for a smart-casual vibe; a tan or light brown can make a refreshing change to a classic black brogue, while black is always guaranteed sleek styling. Brogues can also be paired with casual ensembles, with slim-fit jeans or chinos. 

Do brogues go with jeans?

When it comes to pairing brogues with jeans, the key is to keep things sleek and simple with skinny or slim leg jeans in a dark shade.  Jeans and brogues, done right, can make the ideal wear for a night out when paired with a shirt or blazer. Pay close attention to the cut of your jeans before styling, loose or long jeans will not pull off the desired look. Skinny jeans with a slight ankle show is the look you’re looking to achieve, as it shows off the brogue to its full potential, roll your jeans if your ankle bone is covered. 

As well as jeans, brogues make a perfect companion to chino trousers. Chinos have the ability to look elegant with a relaxed vibe, just like their brogue friends. Classic colours look best if you’re looking for a sophisticated look. Finish your look with a simple shirt or t-shirt, or add a blazer if you’re wanting to smarten up. 

What is a full brogue shoe?

A full brogue is also known as a wingtip as is one of the most iconic styles that features a pointed toe cap with wing-like extensions that are visible on either side of the shoe. This is the W design that was mentioned earlier. Here at Moda in Pelle, our Barnsley leather and Barrow leather brogues are a great example of this style. 


What is a semi brogue shoe? 

A semi brogue (or half brogue) is a great choice if you’re looking for something that lies between casual and dressy. They can be conventionally paired with your favourite workwear, yet look classy paired with a daytime suit at a christening. The beauty of a semi brogue is versatility, if you’re packing for a weekend away and are short on space, a semi brogue is a chameleon, a great option that can be worn with a variety of outfits. Our brixton brogues boast this design and incorporate both leather and suede, so no stress is involved when finding outfit matches.

Brogues at Moda in Pelle

So, when choosing brogues to suit your ensemble, we suggest embracing the countryside history with brogue shoes with lots of perforations to suit casual outfits. When dressing for a formal occasion, brogue shoes with less perforations look a lot sleeker and smarter. Here at Moda man, we have an array of brogue style and Oxford design shoes that get the balance just right for versatile styling. If there is one thing we can conclude, no man should be without a pair. 

Here at Moda man, we pride ourselves on being the go-to for all your leather footwear shopping, that’s why we stock an extensive range of versatile leather styles for a plethora of occasions, browse our full range of men’s shoes, where you’ll find Oxford shoesMonk shoes and trainers

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