Oxfords vs. Brogues: Everything You Need To Know
When it comes to picking out the perfect pair of dress shoes, the number of options available can seem overwhelming. However, every dude should have a variety of dress shoes in their closet to choose from when it comes to putting together the perfect outfit, whether it’s formal wear, semi-formal wear, or even “smart casual” wear. Not all dress shoes are created equal, though.
Oxfords and brogues, which are two of the most common types of dress shoes for men, may look very similar, but there are actually a few key subtle differences between the two, and believe it or not, one is more formal than the other. If you’re on the hunt to find out everything you need to know about Oxfords and brogues, where to wear them, how to wear them, and more, don’t sweat, because we’ve explained everything you need to know about the two kinds of dress shoes below.
What Are Oxfords?
Oxfords are formal dress shoes that have a closed lacing system, which means the eyelet tabs are sewn under the vamp or the upper part of the shoe that covers the toes and instep, or top of the foot. Because of the closed lacing system, though, Oxfords can feel a bit restrictive, especially if you have a high instep, so keep that in mind when searching for a pair of Oxfords.
There are a few different kinds of Oxford designs, including wholecut Oxfords, which are made from one piece of wholecut of leather, rather than multiple pieces of leather that are stitched together. Cap-toe Oxfords are the most common style and feature an extra piece of leather added to the toe of the shoe, as the name suggests.
Wingtip Oxfords also feature a toe-cap, but with “wings” that extend from the toe to the side of the shoe in an “M” or “W” pattern, depending on the angle you’re looking at them from. Wingtip Oxfords are considered the least formal of the bunch, and often feature perforated decorative patterns on the top and sides of the shoe.
What Are Brogues?
Brogues are similar to Oxfords in shape and style, but there are a few subtle differences between the two styles of dress shoes; the most important being that brogues feature decorative perforation along the upper leathers of the shoe. Brogues are also considered less formal than Oxfords, and while you shouldn’t wear them to a black tie event, you can totally get away with wearing them to the office, a wedding, or any other semi-formal to formal event, depending on the design, color, style, and what you pair them with.
And just like Oxfords, there are different variations of brogues that you can choose from when it comes to shopping for the right pair. Half-brogues, or semi-brogues, feature intricate detailing around the sides of the shoe and on the top cap, while quarter brogues only feature perforation detailing around the shoe and not on the toe cap. Longwing brogues boast wings that wrap all the way around to the heel of the shoe, and spectator shoes, which are considered the most informal of the brogue family, typically offer wingtips in a two-tone or contrasting color with the rest of the shoe.
What Is the Difference Between Oxfords and Brogues?
It can get a bit tricky when trying to distinguish Oxfords and brogues, as some Oxfords can be brogues but not all of them are, and some brogues can be Oxfords, but again, not all of them are. Confusing right? The main differences between the two have to do with the lacing system and decorative perforation.
All Oxford shoes have a closed lacing system, as mentioned above, and all brogues have some sort of perforation pattern on the shoe. So, if your dress shoes feature a closed lacing system and have perforated decoration, then they can be considered both Oxfords and brogues. If your dress shoes have only perforated detailing, then they’re just considered brogues, and if your footwear only has a closed lacing system, then they’re simply Oxfords.
What To Wear With Oxfords
Since Oxfords are considered to be the most formal dress shoes of their kind, its best to wear them in more formal settings, and they look absolutely incredible when paired with a two-piece or three-piece suit, making them the perfect footwear for a wedding, in a business professional setting, or even “smart casual” events like luncheons or parties, in which case you can wear them with chinos, high-end quality denim, or trousers.
Oxfords come in a variety of materials, finishes, and colors, but you can’t go wrong with a classic leather Oxford in black or brown in your footwear arsenal. If you’re looking for more of an informal Oxford to pair with smart casual outfits, then look for something in suede or try an eye-catching color like grey or navy. You can even wear Oxfords with a tuxedo, just make sure the material and color are on point, and opt for something classic, like black patent leather.
What To Wear With Brogues
Since brogues can be worn in less formal settings, you have a bit more freedom when it comes to choosing the outfit you want to pair with your brogues. While brogues – particularly, semi-brogues or quarter brogues, as they lean toward the more formal versions of the dress shoe – can be worn with suits, you can also pair any style of brogues with trousers or chinos and a crisp button down shirt for a laid-back vibe while still looking dapper as hell. To really up your style and pack a fashion punch, when wearing chinos, roll them up to the ankle to show off the unique perforation detailing of the shoe.
Brogues also pair well with designer denim and a simple, high-quality plain t-shirt, polo, or button down and will easily take your everyday workwear or streetwear to the next level. Simply put, these dress shoes go well with any outfit that isn’t too casual, like sweatpants or joggers, or too formal, like a tuxedo or something you’d wear to a black tie event.
If you’ve got your eyes set on a pair of wingtip brogues, be aware that the wingtip style is not recommended as an everyday dress shoe, as its eye-catching details, like two-tone colors, can draw the eye away from your ensemble; plus, you’ll get more use out of a brogue that pairs well with any outfit, like a classic brown leather or black leather brogue.
See more about - Sport Coat vs. Blazer: Everything You Need To Know