Brogue: (/broʊɡ/ BROHG) – roll your R’s and you’re halfway there. Way back in the 1600’s, an Irishman realised that having perforations in your shoes meant they drained quicker after a day in the wetlands. Fast forward to the 21st century and all your mates are buzzing about their latest Goodwin Smith Oxfords, or they’re eyeing up a new pair of tan brogues to level up their wardrobe.

But what exactly are brogues?

Smart casual footwear for a fashion forward man

Oxfords and Derby’s; these are not the droids you’re looking for. They are not interchangeable terms. The difference between these two styles lies in where the upper cover of the shoe sits. Brogues on the other hand are only characterised by the perforation detail on the leather.

Brogues are the quintessential shoe to dress up any outfit – for a night out, that important business meeting or the even more important after-hours meeting. Match your tan brogues perfectly with chinos for a dressed-up but casual look, or pair them with jeans when you’re painting the town red and let the world know you’re ready for whatever the night holds. Pair your black brogues with tailored trousers and have all eyes on you as the most stylish man in the room – or add a pop of personality to your best man outfit without stealing the groom’s limelight.

Types of Brogue Shoes

There are plenty of brogue types out there, and with so many ways to style them there’s bound to be a design that speaks to your signature look.


Goodwin Smith brogue boot

Brogue boots are becoming wildly popular, with vast colour ranges to choose from. They can have rugged rubber soles, sleek slim soles, and a plethora of finishes such as herringbone or plaid.

Half Brogues

Goodwin Smith half brogue

Half brogues also fall into the smart-casual category and have perforations around the toe or cap area.

Wingtip Brogues

Goodwin Smith wingtip brogues

Full brogues – also known as wingtip brogues are distinguished by the stretched-out perforation from the toe all the way to the ball of the foot.

American Brogues vs English Brogues

The only difference between wingtip brogues and English / American brogues is how far back the detailing reaches. In this case, they stretch all the way through the shoe and around the back. Fun fact: English and American brogues are exactly the same thing - people in the USA call them English brogues and vice versa.

Brogues are made from genuine leather, which is used in a natural or dyed colour. That’s the beauty of the brogue – if you’re less inclined to go full wingtip, you have free reign to play around with colour to find the look you really love.

How and when to wear brogues

Because this style of shoe is so versatile, it really can be worn on any occasion. Modest colours like tan, brown and black are suitable to wear to business meetings to bring some life to an otherwise ordinary suit. Paired with fitted jeans, you can take your casual look to the next level with any style and colour you like and find yourself the centre of attention in your social and casual settings.

The quickest way to help you sort your casual brogues from business brogues is to see the level of perforation detailing on them; the more detailing they have, the better they are to wear in downtime, and the less detailing they have – the better they are for a business or formal setting.

There is one exception to the rule; black tie events. Unless you have a deciding say in what footwear can be paired with a three-piece suit, brogues might have to wait for the afterparty to make their debut in this setting.

These aren’t hard-and-fast rules, however. The beauty of Goodwin Smith shoes is the bespoke style they offer, and how they can bring your maverick style to the forefront. In any case, we know you’re not about following the rules.

May 10, 2020 — Alex Swan