A Guide to Wingtip Shoes for Men
Everyone knows that when it comes to fashion the shoes truly make the outfit – whether you’re trying to piece together the perfect ensemble for a big job interview, gearing up for a fancy date with your partner, or just heading to the gym, your choice of footwear can make or break your entire aesthetic. And just like you should have multiple options when it comes to, well, wearing anything ranging from casual weekend wear to black tie formalwear, the same rule applies to your shoe collection.
You should absolutely have a few different pairs of dress shoes in your closet. And that’s where wingtip shoes come in. Because of their versatility and ability to be dressed either up or down, it goes without saying that every man should have a few pairs of these babies in their footwear arsenal for any occasion that arises.
And if your head is spinning just thinking about how to go about adding the right shoes to your wardrobe, then you’re in luck, because we’re breaking down everything you need to know about wingtip shoes, where to wear them, how to wear them, and more below.
What Are Wingtip Shoes?
A wingtip shoe is a dress shoe that features an extended toe cap with low wings that reach around the side of the shoe. They’re similar to brogues and are sometimes grouped together with them, and are often referred to as a brogue shoe or wingtip brogue.
A classic brogue typically comes in a brown leather design, but in this day and age, wingtips come in a variety of colors, finishes, and materials, like grey or brown suede, black leather, a wide range of shades of tan, and more. It’s similar to an Oxford shoe; however, a wingtip shoe differs from an Oxford because of its distinguishable decorative perforation patterns on the outside of the shoe.
These shoes originated in Scotland and Ireland and the perforated holes and detailing of the shoes were essentially used to drain water and moisture out when the shoe-wearer was making their way through damp or wet terrain. While wingtip shoes still feature this notable perforated detailing, it’s more for decoration than utility now.
Different Types of Wingtips and Brogues
- Classic wingtip: as described above, it has a perforated pattern on the outside of the shoe, wings that wrap around the side, and typically comes in leather or suede
- Wingtip boots: feature the characteristics of a classic wingtip, but extend up past the ankle
- Quarter brogue: has perforated detailing around the shoe, but not on the middle of the toe cap
- Semi brogue: also referred to as half-brogues, these shoes feature intricate detailing around the shoe, as well as the toe cap
- Longwing brogue: feature wingtips that extend all the way to the back of the heel
- Spectator shoe: typically come in a contrasting two-tone shade, featuring one shade of leather on the toe cap and another throughout the rest of the shoe
- Ghillie brogue: similar to a wingtip shoe, but doesn’t have a tongue and laces up past the ankle; typically, ghillie brogues are worn with kilts
Where Can You Wear Wingtips?
On a scale of “casual shoes you can wear to the beach” to “black tie formal,” wingtip shoes fall smack dab in the middle, which means there are actually a few cardinal rules when it comes to where it’s appropriate to sport a pair. Wingtips can be dressed up or down, so you can confidently wear your best brogues, Oxfords – like Ace Marks’ stunning Wholecut Oxford Dress Shoes – or wingtips to your buddy’s wedding, date night with your partner, a casual night out on the town with the boys, to the office if the dress code is business casual, and even to a job interview.
You’re definitely going to want to refrain from wearing wingtips to the beach or pool or to do simple weekend errands, like running to the grocery store or picking up your dry cleaning – wear your slides or sneakers for stuff like that. You may be able to get away with wearing brogues or wingtips to a barbeque or casual get-together, but scope out the vibe beforehand (if you can) so you can decide if your footwear choice is too dressy for the occasion.
Just as you wouldn’t want to wear wingtip dress shoes to an informal event, you wouldn’t want to show up wearing casual shoes to an ultra-formal event. You should never wear a brogue or wingtip shoe with a tuxedo under any circumstances – you’ll look sloppy and your outfit will look mismatched. You may be able to get away with sporting a pair in a business professional setting, though, as these shoes typically pair well with a two-piece suit.
Wholecut Oxford Plain Toe Black Antique
What To Pair Wingtips With
As previously mentioned, wingtip shoes can be dressed up or down, depending on what your day has in store for you. You can go casual and wear them with fitted denim of all washes and colors, and finish the look off with a simple, solid t-shirt, polo shirt, or a short or long-sleeve button down. It’s also important to note that you can either go sockless or wear any color or pattern sock you’d like – just stay away from white, obviously.
For a bit of a dressier look, pair your shoes with chinos or slacks and a crisp button down. Ace Marks’ Monkstrap Italian Leather Dress Shoes are perfect if you want to show off dress shoes that are sleek, sophisticated, and have eye-catching buckle details. If you’re looking to up your suit game, try wearing a pair in black, brown, or grey with your favorite patterned or bold-colored two-piece suit for a style that’ll surely have all eyes on you – in the best way possible, of course.
If you’re aiming for an edgy look with a smidge of sophistication, wear a pair of black leather wingtip boots with skinny black denim rolled up past the ankle, and top with a plain white tee and a slightly oversized, worn-in denim jacket for an effortlessly cool vibe.
Monkstrap Brandy Antique
How To Clean Your Wingtips
Like any other item in your closet, it is important to take care of your dress shoes to keep them looking brand-new no matter how often you wear them. Take a clean toothbrush (a small disposable one is totally fine) and lightly brush around the shoe to remove any dirt and/or dust from the perforated holes, then, take a damp cloth and wipe the leather clean to remove any remaining grime. Repeat these steps on the sole of the shoe.
Then, either using your clean toothbrush, a polishing brush, or a clean sponge, take a small layer of shoe polish and evenly coat the shoes until you get the shine you want; use a toothpick to clean out excess polish from the decorative holes in brogues or wingtips. It’s important to note that high-end shoes require a really great shoe polish, so be sure to invest in a high-quality one – like this polish from Ace Marks – so you can keep your dress shoes in tip-top shape.
Ace Marks Natural Wax Polish
For suede shoes, protecting the fabric with a waterproof spray before wearing can help preserve the integrity of the material. If you happen to see a spot or stain, brush the shoe with a soft-bristled brush to remove any excess dirt, then use a shoe cleaner to get rid of the scuff marks.
Regardless of the material of the shoe, one important rule when it comes to cleaning or polishing is that you should never try to speed up the drying process – let them dry naturally, and don’t rush anything.
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