What Are Brogue Shoes? A History Guide

Brogues Shoes

Brogues are special shoes with cool holes and a classic look that have made a big impact on fashion around the world. Starting in Scotland and now seen as a symbol of style, these shoes mix old-fashioned charm with a modern touch.

Historical Roots and Evolution:

Brogues find their origins in Scotland and Ireland, where they were initially designed as sturdy, practical shoes for traversing damp terrains. The signature perforations, known as “broguing,” served a functional purpose by allowing water to drain. Over time, brogues transitioned from workwear to formal attire, adapting to changing fashion trends and solidifying their place in men’s and women’s wardrobes.

Distinctive Features and Types:

What sets brogues apart is their decorative perforations and distinctive detailing. Broguing can vary in intensity, leading to different types of brogues. The categories include full brogues (or wingtips), featuring extensive perforations and a wing-like cap, semi-brogues with fewer perforations and additional decorative elements, and quarter brogues, which are more subdued and formal.

Versatility in Style and Occasions:

Brogues are celebrated for their versatility, effortlessly bridging the gap between formal and casual wear. Classic full brogues add a touch of flair to a tailored suit, while semi-brogues complement business-casual ensembles. Quarter brogues, with their refined appearance, are well-suited for more formal occasions. The adaptability of brogues makes them a timeless choice for both men and women.

Cultural Significance and Iconic Appeal:

Brogues have become synonymous with sartorial elegance and have left an imprint on popular culture. Iconic figures like Fred Astaire and Cary Grant showcased the timeless charm of brogues in the golden age of Hollywood. Today, brogues are favored by fashion influencers and celebrities alike, reaffirming their enduring appeal.

Contemporary Trends and Gender Fluidity:

In modern fashion, brogues have transcended gender norms, becoming a unisex footwear staple. Women’s brogues often feature sleeker silhouettes and feminine touches, while men’s styles maintain a classic and robust aesthetic. The androgynous nature of brogues aligns with evolving attitudes toward fashion, emphasizing self-expression and inclusivity.

Top Brogues Today:

Brogues are classic and stylish shoes that feature decorative perforations and serrated edges. Known for their versatility and sophistication, here are three of the best brogues celebrated for their quality craftsmanship, timeless design, and popularity:

Church’s Consul Brogue:

  • Heritage Craftsmanship: Church’s, an English shoemaker with a history dating back to 1873, is renowned for its traditional craftsmanship. The Consul Brogue is a classic representation of the brand’s commitment to quality and heritage.
  • Premium Leather: Crafted from high-quality calfskin leather, Church’s brogues are known for their durability and refined appearance. The Consul Brogue features intricate perforations along the toe cap and the seams, showcasing the meticulous attention to detail.
  • Goodyear Welt Construction: Many Church brogues, including the Consul, are constructed using the Goodyear Welt method, ensuring longevity, water resistance, and ease of resolving. This construction method is a hallmark of premium craftsmanship.

Tricker’s Bourton Brogue:

  • English Tradition: Tricker’s, another esteemed English shoemaker, has been crafting footwear since 1829. The Bourton Brogue reflects the brand’s dedication to traditional shoemaking techniques and timeless design.
  • Characterful Leather: Tricker’s brogues are often made from high-quality, characterful leathers such as Scotch grain or pebble grain. These leathers not only provide durability but also develop a unique patina over time, adding to the individuality of each pair.
  • Sturdy Construction: Tricker’s is known for its robust and sturdy construction, making the Bourton Brogue a reliable choice for those seeking durability and comfort. The shoe’s storm welt and Dainite rubber sole enhance its resilience against the elements.

Grenson Archie Brogue:

  • Modern Elegance: Grenson, a heritage English shoemaker founded in 1866, blends traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design. The Archie Brogue exemplifies this fusion, featuring a bold and chunky silhouette that adds a modern touch to the classic brogue style.
  • Hand-Painted Details: Grenson is known for its hand-painted finishes, and the Archie Brogue often boasts carefully applied patinas and burnishing. This attention to detail enhances the shoe’s visual appeal and individual character.
  • Comfortable Fit: Grenson places a strong emphasis on comfort, and the Archie Brogue is designed with a roomy last and a cushioned leather insole for a comfortable and supportive fit. This makes it suitable for both formal occasions and everyday wear.

These three brogues—Church’s Consul Brogue, Tricker’s Bourton Brogue, and Grenson Archie Brogue—represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship and style in the world of men’s footwear. Whether you prefer the timeless elegance of Church’s, the traditional craftsmanship of Tricker’s, or the modern flair of Grenson, each pair of brogues offers a distinct blend of heritage and contemporary design.


As we step through the annals of footwear history, brogues emerge as more than just shoes – they are a testament to the seamless blend of functionality and style. From their utilitarian origins to their current status as a global fashion statement, brogues have walked through centuries with grace. Whether gracing formal events or adding a touch of refinement to everyday wear, brogues continue to exemplify the timeless union of tradition and contemporary flair, ensuring their place as a cherished classic in the ever-evolving world of fashion.

What makes a shoe a brogue?

Brogues are characterized by their decorative perforations, known as broguing, which are often featured along the seams and edges of the shoe. These perforations give brogues their distinctive and stylish appearance. The level of broguing can vary, leading to different types of brogues.

Difference between Oxfords and brogues?

While both Oxfords and brogues are formal shoe styles, the key difference lies in the presence of broguing. Oxfords are typically plain and sleek, while brogues feature decorative perforations. Brogues can be Oxfords or other styles like Derbies, depending on their structure.

What is the point of brogues?

The original purpose of brogues was practical, as they were designed in Scotland and Ireland for walking in wet terrains. The perforations allowed water to drain. Over time, brogues evolved into formal and stylish footwear, offering a versatile option that bridges the gap between casual and formal wear.

What do Americans call brogues?

In the United States, the term “brogues” is commonly used to refer to this style of footwear. Americans recognize and appreciate the distinct features of brogues, including the perforations, and use the term to describe this classic and stylish type of shoe.