Oxfords, Bluchers, Brogues, & Wingtips: The Idrese Guide to Men’s Dress Shoe Terminology
“Oxfords, not brogues.”
Matthew Vaughn’s iconic spy adventure from 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service, introduced men all over the world to these words to live by. Harry Hart a.k.a. Agent Galahad, played by the majestic Colin Firth, goes on to briefly explain what the phrase refers to: “An Oxford is any formal shoe with open lacing. This additional decorative piece is called broguing.”
However, our good (Kings)man does not elaborate further on why Oxfords are preferable to brogues. The concealed blade in the pair that Taran Egerton’s Eggsy eventually wears in the film likely has nothing to do with it, though.
Still, it is an interesting question—the answers for which would be good to know for any man shopping for his first pair of dress shoes. The terminology can be extremely confusing, between Oxfords, bluchers, brogues, wingtips, and much more. Below, we break it all down for you:
OXFORDS & BLUCHERS
Most men might have only caught the first part of Agent Galahad’s introduction to shoes. He says, “An Oxford is any formal shoe”, and then qualifies it with the descriptive “with open lacing”.
There are exactly two things wrong with that sentence. Firstly, not all formal dress shoes for men can be called Oxfords. For a pair of shoes to be considered Oxfords, it must possess certain characteristics. Oxfords are also low-cut shoes, but dress boots that go up to ankle height and higher are also a popular formal shoe choice nowadays.
Secondly, Oxfords with open lacing are actually slightly less formal, and aren’t Oxfords at all. They’re called Derby shoes and are a completely different type of dress shoe. Therefore: the shoes shown in the movie are Oxfords, but the ones Galahad describes are not.
Closed lacing vs. Open lacing
To distinguish between Oxfords and Derby shoes (and help you make the right purchase!), you must understand the differences between closed and open lacing.
Oxfords always feature closed lacing. This means that the facing (the bit where the shoelace eyelets are) and the quarters (the part of the shoe affixed to the facing that goes around the sides and back) are secured under the shoe’s vamp (the top section of the shoe that covers everything beneath your toes). Our Arrington collection features this classic silhouette and is available in dark blue, burnished honey, black, and dark brown.
Meanwhile, Derby shoes, also known as bluchers, always feature open lacing. The quarters are sewn atop the vamp in this style, allowing the facing to flap open and reveal the tongue. Our take on the Derby shoe is the Marc Jorge, which comes in black and features a split-toe design.
Brogues are, simply put, any dress shoe for men that has been put through the process of brogueing. Brogue refers to those decorative perforations you see on many shoe styles. They are most often employed on lower-cut footwear for men, such as Oxfords, bluchers, and monk straps, but boots can be brogued, too. This means that practically any shoe can be “a Brogue”.
The reason why Galahad advises against brogues is because any brogued shoe cannot be considered a formal shoe. They can be worn with suits, but not to any evening events. They also aren’t suitable for the black-tie dress code that most spies in popular culture adhere to. Still, they’re a great way to jazz up any daytime ensemble.
Using our online customization platform, you can add broguing to almost any shoe style you design with us. Just check the sidebar on the right to see if the option is available for your pick, or send us a quick inquiry using the chatbot on the bottom right corner of the page.
Wingtip refers to a toe style that features winged caps, hence the name. Shoes that bear this styling are then called “wingtips”. You can easily tell men’s wingtip shoes apart from other types of dress shoes—they’re the ones with a “W” shape up front.
Most wingtips are brogued, but not all of them. There are also several wingtip styles to choose from, ranging in formality. Overall, though, think of men’s wingtip shoes as a smart casual option that leans slightly more towards the casual side. They’ll look out of place in serious, highly formal settings, but will serve you just fine during casual and daytime occasions.
Here at Idrese, we include both dress shoes and dress boots in our lineup of men’s wingtip shoes. Locke is our take on a wingtip shoe with closed lacing, giving it an Oxford-like silhouette that pairs just as well with dark wash jeans as it does with a casual suit. It comes in dark brown, medium brown, and black. Micah is our version of the wingtip dress boot, available in black or dark brown and well-suited for casual to smart casual events held during the colder months. Finally, there’s Mensch, our military brogue boot in medium brown. We made them for the fearless dressers who like to make a strong statement, even in casual clothing.
Whether it’s oxfords, brogues, bluchers or wingtips, know that you can always design your own unique pair of shoes with us through our online customization portal. Put your best foot forward today with your creation, or choose a premade style from our catalog now.
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