Brogues are low heeled shoes and boots characterized by uppers made of multiple pieces of leather that feature perforations (called “broguing”) and serrations along the edges of those pieces of leather.
The brogue traces its history back to Scotland and Ireland where it was used as an outdoor working shoe. Ireland and Scotland are known for their wet countrysides that feature bogs that make working outdoors difficult for the feet. The brogue was created to fulfill a need of the time, a suitable shoe for this specific working terrain. The original brogue design was very basic, and featured untanned leather with their most unique feature being perforations and serrations along the edge of each piece of leather used in the construction of the shoe. These perforations allowed water to drain from the shoes, giving relief to the feet, where before water was trapped in the working man’s shoe with no where to go. The early designs, which are called the ‘ghillie brogue’ were brogues that had no tongue, which also allowed for water drainage, and featured high laces that wrapped around the ankle. This design element kept the shoes on tight and prevented them from being pulled off when walking through thick mud.
Types of Brogues
Full (Wingtip) Brogues – The full brogue, also commonly known as the ‘wingtip’ brogue, featuring a toe cap area which has leather in a “W” shape with sides that extend out almost like ‘wings’ to the area of the ball of the foot. It features perforations and serrations along the edges of the toe cap, along with perforations in the center of the toe cap.
Semi (Half) Brogues – A brogue which features a cap toe that has perforations and serrations along the edge of the cap toe. Also features perforations in the center of the cap toe for additional detailing. Was created by John Lobb in 1937 as an alternative to the plain oxford, but intended to be less bold than the full brogue.
Quarter Brogues – A brogue that has a cap toe with perforations and serrations on the edge of the toe cap area like the semi-brogue, but lacks the perforations in the center of the toe cap area.
Longwing Brogues – Brogue that features the pointed cap toe, in the “W’ shape, with the wings that extend the full length of the shoe and meet at a seam at the heel. Interestingly, this brogue is known in the USA as the ‘English brogue’, while in the United Kingdom it is known as the ‘American brogue’.
Austerity Brogues – A wingtip shoe which features no perforations which is typically what makes a brogue a brogue.
Blind Brogues – A plain toe shoe which features perforations in the shape of a wingtip.
(sources: gentlemansgazette.com, en.wikipedia.org)