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A Gentleman’s Choice: Oxfords Or Brogues

By Akpa Ilemona
02 July 2022   |   9:04 am
When Harry Hart in the movie"Kingsman" gave his protegé Eggsy three words to live by “Oxfords, not brogues”, the confusion between these two was further heightened. Simply put, an oxford refers to a dress shoe that has a closed lacing system, meaning the parts of the shoe that holds the shoelace eyelets are sewn underneath…

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When Harry Hart in the movie”Kingsman” gave his protegé Eggsy three words to live by “Oxfords, not brogues”, the confusion between these two was further heightened.

Simply put, an oxford refers to a dress shoe that has a closed lacing system, meaning the parts of the shoe that holds the shoelace eyelets are sewn underneath the vamp and can’t be seen on the top, making the Oxford clean with a slim silhouette and therefore the classic choice when wearing a suit.

Meanwhile, brogues denote “broguing,” a kind of ornamentation created by small perforations or holes. Any shoe with broguing is called a brogue, even if it’s an oxford. Hence, brogues and oxfords are not mutually exclusive

The debate about the difference likely stems from the traditional distinction of when is most suitable to wear either of the two as a brogue is not actually a type of shoe, whereas an Oxford is.

Shoes with broguing tended to be seen as country shoes that were otherwise unsuitable for city gents. On the other hand, traditional Oxfords were considered smarter due to the closed laces which made them more suitable for a business setting.

In the past, gentlemen took a liking to oxford shoes, whose sleekness and smoothness lent a smart and formal look to its wearer. Even today, oxfords are preferred for black-tie dress codes. Typically, the plainer the shoe, the dressier it is, so traditionalists would advise against wearing brogue shoes with suits.

These menswear rules have been broken time and again, however, which means you can get away with wearing cap-toe oxfords for more relaxed occasions.

Different kinds of broguing are meant for different occasions. Two popular kinds are the semi brogues and the wing tip.
Semi-brogues or half-brogues are perhaps the middle ground between dressy and relaxed, making them suitable for business casual. They’re conventional and striking at the same time, without being as whimsical as their fully brogued counterparts. Feel free to pair them with daytime suits.

Wingtips have become an iconic shoe style because of the distinct “M” or “W” design on the cap toe and sides. Today, wingtips are a leisurely and sophisticated choice for the style-savvy, with its fancy ornamentation sure to add panache to any man’s outfit. Wear them with cuffed denim jeans and a plain white shirt for a classic look with a rugged edge.
Safe to say it’s best to first master the rules before breaking them or better still, switching them up a bit.