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The Brogue (derived from the Gaelic bróg (Irish), bròg (Scottish) "shoe") is a style of low-heeled shoe or boot traditionally characterised by multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforations (or "broguing") and serration along the pieces' visible edges. Modern brogues trace their roots to a rudimentary shoe originating in Scotland and Ireland that was constructed using untanned hide with perforations, allowing water to drain when crossing wet terrain such as a bog. Brogues were traditionally considered to be outdoor or country footwear not otherwise appropriate for casual or business occasions, but brogues are now considered appropriate in most contexts. Brogues are most commonly found in one of four toe cap styles (full or "wingtip", semi-, quarter and longwing) and four closure styles (Oxford, Derby, ghillie, and monk). Today, in addition to their typical form of sturdy leather shoes or boots, brogues may also take the form of business dress shoes, sneakers, high-heeled women's shoes, or any other shoe form that utilises or evokes the multi-piece construction and perforated, serrated piece edges characteristic of brogues.
Modern brogues trace their roots to a rudimentary shoe originating in Scotland and Ireland that was constructed using untanned hide with perforations that allowed water to drain from the shoes when the wearer crossed wet terrain such as a bog. The word "brogue" came into English in the late sixteenth century. It comes from the Gaelic bróg (Irish), bròg (Scottish) "shoe", from the Old Norse "brók" meaning "leg covering".
The word "brogue" was first used to describe a form of outdoor, country walking shoe in the early twentieth century traditionally worn by men. At that time the brogue was not considered to be appropriate for other occasions, social or business. Over time perceptions have changed and brogues are now considered appropriate in most contexts, including business. Brogues continue to be most common as leather dress and casual shoes and boots, but can also be found in many other forms including canvas and leather sneakers and high-heeled women's shoes. Although Brougues are similar to the "Oxford shoe", they are two completely different types of shoes and are not to classified into the same family.
Brogues are most commonly found in one of four toe-cap styles (full or "wingtip" brogues, semi-brogues, quarter brogues and longwing brogues) and four closure styles (Oxford, Derby, ghillie and monk strap). Most commonly offered as a leather dress shoe, brogues may also come in the form of boots, canvas or leather sneakers or any other shoe type that includes or evokes the multi-piece construction and perforated, serrated edges characteristic of brogues.
Full brogues (or Wingtips)
Full brogues (also known as wingtips) are characterised by a pointed toe cap with extensions (wings) that run along both sides of the toe, terminating near the ball of the foot. Viewed from the top, this toe cap style is "W" shaped and looks similar to a bird with extended wings, explaining the style name "wingtips" that is commonly used in the US. The toe cap of a full brogue is both perforated and serrated along its edges and includes additional decorative perforations in the centre of the toe cap. A shoe with a wingtip-style toecap but no perforations is known as an "austerity brogue", while a plain-toe shoe with wingtip-style perforations is a "blind brogue". Full brogues are the least formal of shoes with "brogueing". Much misinformation is spread online now that, "full brogues" are the most formal, when the opposite is true.
Spectator shoes (British English: Co-respondent shoes) are full brogue Oxfords constructed from two contrasting colours, typically having the toe and heel cap and sometimes the lace panels in a darker colour than the main body of the shoe. Common colour combinations include a white shoe body with either black or tan caps, but other colours can be used.
The ghillie style of full brogue Oxford has no tongue, to facilitate drying, and long laces that wrap around the leg above the ankle and tie below the calf to facilitate keeping the tie clear of mud. Despite the functional aspects of their design, ghillies brogues are most commonly seen as a component of traditional, formal Scottish dress and are worn primarily for social occasions.
Semi-brogues (or Half brogues)
Semi-brogues (also known as half brogues) are characterised by a toe cap with decorative perforations and serration along the cap's edge and includes additional decorative perforations in the centre of the toe cap. The half brogue was first designed and produced by John Lobb Ltd. as an Oxford in 1937 in an effort to offer his customers a shoe more stylish than a plain oxford, yet not as bold as a full brogue. Semi-brogues are more formal than full brogues.
Quarter brogues are characterised by a cap toe with decorative perforations and serrations along the cap's edge, however, unlike semi-brogues, quarter brogues have no decorative perforations in the centre of the toe cap. Quarter brogues are the more formal than semi brogues and full brogues. Quarter brogues are the most formal of dress shoes with brogueing, making them the ideal fit to pair with business attire (suits).
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