Brogues have become the smart shoe with edge. The formal city footwear with personality. But this stylish shoe has had quite a journey. Brogues have evolved from humble (and soggy) beginnings to represent the ultimate in urbane style.
What exactly is a Brogue?
The confusing thing about the Brogue is that it doesn’t refer to a single type of shoe. The important thing to remember when it comes to Brogues is the holes. The holes maketh the Brogue. This classic tooled style of perforated leather can be seen on a whole range of shoe styles from Oxfords to Loafers.
We love the versatility of the Brogue – from adding interest to your city suit to bringing a flavour of the vintage country gent to your weekend wardrobe.
We looked into the history of the Brogue to discover 5 things you probably don’t know about one of your favourite shoes.
1. The name comes from an old Norse word
The word Brogue itself has ancient roots. It is thought to be derived from the Norse word for leg covering, ‘brók’ and later the Old Irish word, ‘bróg’ which simply means shoe. Brogues themselves are thought to have developed from the earliest, rudimentary shoes worn in Scotland and Ireland made with untanned hides. By the early twentieth century, Brogues had become a practical outdoor walking shoe worn by men. It was only in later decades that Brogues became a fashionable town shoe.
2. The holes are there to keep your feet dry
Would you dream of wearing your favourite Brogues as you trek across a muddy field? Of course not. This wasn’t always the case though. The holes were initially devised to allow water to drain from shoes as they were worn to trek across boggy or difficult terrain.
3. A prince helped to make Brogues cool
The transition from practical country shoe to fashionable footwear was boosted by photos of the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, wearing brogues while golfing. Men’s leather Brogue shoes quickly became a must-have shoe for both men and women and are now recognised as an essential part of early twentieth-century style.
4. They were the ultimate Jazz Age shoes
The 1920s were all about Jazz music and with this new music came a breaking down of cultural barriers that has helped to define the modern age. The shoe of choice for the fashionable Jazz Age man? The Brogue. From Fred Astaire to Rudolph Valentino, the two-tone Brogue was the only shoe to step out in. Today, Brogues have retained this air of vintage cool and lend a timeless style to any look.
5. A pair of Elvis’ Brogues sold for £48,000.
That’s right. The King of Rock and Roll himself was a big fan of the Brogue. In fact, he famously wore a black and white pair during his movie, Jailhouse Rock. A pair of Elvis’ iconic blue suede shoes – which were also Brogues – fetched an enormous £48,000 when sold at auction back in 2013.
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