One of the suiting world's great ironies is how the brogue, now considered to be some of the most suit-ready shoes, has such decidedly un-formal origins.

Originally hailing from the murky moors of Scotland and Ireland, modern brogues— dress shoes marked with perforated detailing—are derived from
a low-heeled, strongly constructed kind of shoe worn by Irish and Scottish workers around the start of 1800s. "The brogue, or shoe, of the Irish peasantry," says Joseph Sparkes Hall in his 1847 book The Book of the Feet: A History of Boots and Shoes, "differs in its construction from the shoe of any other country... The leather of the uppers is much stronger than what is used in the strongest shoes; being made of cowhide dressed for the purpose, and it never had an inside lining, like the ordinary shoe... They are considered by the country people more durable for field-labor, being less liable to rip in the sewing."

Popular belief is that brogues had perforations in the upper to drain water when walking through the bogs and were worn as a kind of daily work shoe, so they were built accordingly with durability in mind. They were considered to be a firmly casual style through the early 20th century, unfit for daily formalities of the upper classes—more suited for country ambling than business meetings.

Both the style and its public perception, though, has since evolved. Purists may still think of them as casual, but most men now think of brogues as some of the most handsome options available to give your outfit a dressy appearance. If you’re bored with the traditional oxford shoe, but still need something more established than a sneaker, a brogue slides comfortably into that space.

While many people think of brogue as being synonymous with wingtips, the term actually only refers to any kind perforated detailing on a shoe or boot. The shape that perforation takes, and how it fits with the rest of the shoe's construction, results in different styles.

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Tags: alden, shoes, sartorial