What is a brogue?

Defined by its decorative perforations, any shoe with broguing is called a brogue, even if it’s an Oxford.
Maggie in camel Loro Piana wool Naphill greatcoat, Kit Blake; ivory silk shirt, Emma Willis; camel virgin wool trousers and brown leather belt, both Brunello Cucinelli; burgundy calf leather Prince of Wales check brogues, Cheaney. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

Brogues, from the Gaelic word bróg meaning “shoe,” refers to any low-heeled shoe or boot featuring decorative perforations. It’s a common misconception, that an Oxford and a brogue is an entirely different shoe. They key difference between Oxfords and brogues is that each refers to something different in design; the Oxford, characterized by its closed lacing system, whilst a brogue denotes “broguing,”– a kind of ornamentation created by small perforations. Any shoe with broguing is called a brogue, even if it’s an Oxford. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Originally embraced by Irish farmers, they utilized the broguing as a channel of drainage when traipsing through boggy fields. High lacing designs kept the laces free from mud, thus becoming a rudimentary shoe for the outdoors. Predominantly worn by the working class, even the best brogues were confined to the country.

Contributor

Freddie Anderson

Published

March 2022

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