I thought it was about time I put a few extracts from my book on the blog about some of the most important flat shoe styles you need in your wardrobe, and what better shoe to start with than the most incorrectly used in the fashion industry by brands and editors alike? Ever since masculine lace-up shoes became a wardrobe essential about five years ago, ‘brogues’ became shorthand as a way of describing them. Only, they’re not brogues unless they fill certain criteria (see below) and the misuse of the word really gets on my wick! So read and learn, people: what makes a brogue a brogue?
Many people have taken to referring to all flat lace-up shoes as brogues. In fact, the term ‘broguing’ refers to the holes punched in the leather from which the shoes are constructed. This means you can have slip-on or even heeled brogues – they don’t have to be flat lace-ups but they must have the holes.
Now that we’ve cleared up that technicality, what are the holes for? Brogues (derived from the Gaelic word bróg meaning ‘shoe’) were originally a country shoe worn by the Scottish and Irish when they needed to cross a bog. The holes allowed the water to drain out and the shoe to dry off once it was taken off. Clever, eh? They looked so nice, though, that they were later adopted on formal shoes and are most commonly found on Derby, Oxford and monk styles.
pages 8 and 9, En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels.
published by Saltyard (BUY ME HERE!)
So the word brogue doesn’t really refer to the type shoe – that could be a Derby, Oxford, monk, Chelsea boot, loafer or even a trainer – it just refers to that lovely pattern of punched holes that the shoe is decorated with. Whether you’re just starting out in the world of stylish flat shoes (welcome!) or you’re a seasoned En Broguer, you really need a pair of brogued shoes in your repertoire. They’re a brilliant dress shoe for posh events, but look equally at home with turned up jeans. But whatever you do, make sure you don’t call a shoe with no holes a brogue!