What’s the Difference Between Brogues and Oxfords Shoes?

When it comes to formal footwear, men often find themselves confronted with a variety of styles, each with its unique characteristics. Two classic and popular choices are brogues and Oxfords, which are widely recognized for their timeless appeal and refined elegance. In this blog post, we will delve into the distinctive differences between brogues and Oxfords, shedding light on their origins, design features, and when and how to wear them.

What’s the Difference between Brogues and Oxfords Shoes?

Brogues and Oxfords are types of dress shoes, but they differ in their design and construction. Oxfords have a closed lacing system, with the quarters (side sections) stitched under the vamp (front section). Brogues, on the other hand, have decorative perforations (broguing) and can feature open or closed lacing styles.

Lacing StyleCan have open or closed lacingClosed lacing (quarters under vamp)
DecorationDecorative perforations (broguing)Minimal to no decorative elements
FormalityMore casualMore formal
VersatilitySuitable for both formal and casual occasionsPrimarily for formal occasions
Historical OriginOriginally designed for outdoor activitiesEvolved from the Oxonian shoe, a popular style in the UK

The Origins:

  • Oxfords: The Oxford shoe traces its roots back to the 19th century in Scotland and Ireland. Initially known as “Balmorals” in Scotland, they were named after Oxford University students adopted the style in the mid-1800s. These shoes quickly gained popularity for their clean lines and minimalistic design.
  • Brogues: Brogues have a more intricate history and are believed to have originated in Ireland and Scotland as well. Their characteristic perforations, known as “broguing,” were originally designed to allow water to drain when traversing wet terrain. Over time, brogues evolved into stylish footwear options suitable for both formal and casual settings.

Design Features:

  • Oxfords: Oxfords are characterized by their closed lacing system, where the eyelets are stitched underneath the vamp (front part of the shoe). The absence of visible stitching on the upper creates a sleek and uncluttered appearance, making them the epitome of formal dress shoes.
  • Brogues: Brogues, on the other hand, are known for their decorative perforations and wingtip detailing. These patterns can be found on the toe cap, along the seams, and sometimes extend to the heel. Brogues come in various styles, such as full brogues (wingtip), semi-brogues, and quarter brogues, each differing in the extent of perforation and ornamentation.

Formality and Versatility:

  • Oxfords: Oxfords are the quintessential formal shoes, perfect for black tie events, business meetings, and any occasion that demands a high level of elegance. They pair exceptionally well with tailored suits, tuxedos, and dress trousers.
  • Brogues: While brogues were traditionally considered less formal due to their decorative nature, modern fashion has embraced them as versatile pieces. Today, brogues can be worn for both formal and semi-formal occasions. They add a touch of character to business casual outfits and complement tweed jackets, chinos, and denim for a smart-casual look.

When to Wear:

  • Oxfords: Reserve your Oxfords for formal events, weddings, job interviews, and any occasion where a polished and sophisticated appearance is required. Stick to classic colors like black, dark brown, and oxblood for the most formal settings.
  • Brogues: Embrace brogues for less formal events like office parties, daytime weddings, and smart-casual gatherings. Opt for various colors like tan, light brown, or two-tone options to add personality to your ensemble.


Why does Kingsman say Oxfords not brogues?

In the movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” the quote “Oxfords, not brogues” refers to a dress code specifying the type of shoes to be worn. Oxfords are considered more formal and elegant, fitting the refined and sophisticated image associated with the Kingsman organization.

What is the point of brogues?

Brogues originated in Scotland and Ireland as outdoor shoes, designed with perforations (broguing) to allow water to drain out. Over time, they evolved into stylish dress shoes with decorative elements, adding a touch of character and versatility to formal outfits.

Are brogues formal or informal?

Brogues are considered to be a versatile style that can transition between formal and informal wear. They are more formal than casual sneakers but less formal than plain Oxfords or other formal dress shoes.

Are Oxford brogues formal?

Yes, Oxford brogues are considered formal. They combine the classic closed-lacing style of Oxfords with the decorative perforations of brogues, offering a dressier option for formal occasions with a hint of personality.

When should you not wear brogues?

You might want to avoid wearing brogues in extremely formal settings, such as black-tie events or very conservative business environments. For such occasions, plain Oxfords or other formal dress shoes would be more appropriate.

Can Oxfords be worn casually?

While Oxfords are primarily known for their formal nature, certain types with less glossy leather and minimal ornamentation can be styled more casually. However, they are generally better suited for formal or semi-formal occasions.

Can I wear brogues with jeans?

Yes, you can wear brogues with jeans. The combination can create a smart-casual look that works well for various informal outings and social events.

Should you wear brogues with or without socks?

The choice of wearing brogues with or without socks depends on personal preference and the overall style you want to achieve. Wearing them without socks is more common in warmer weather or for a casual look, while wearing them with socks can add a touch of formality.

Can I wear brogues with black tie?

It’s generally not recommended to wear brogues with black tie attire, as black tie events call for highly formal dress shoes like patent leather Oxfords or opera pumps.

Is it OK to wear brogues with a suit?

Yes, you can wear brogues with a suit, especially if you want to add some personality to your formal outfit. However, keep in mind that the formality of the brogues should match the dressiness of the suit.

Are brogues still fashionable?

Yes, brogues have remained popular and fashionable as versatile dress shoes that can be styled in both formal and casual settings. They are timeless classics that continue to be a popular choice for many individuals.

What do brogues say about you?

Brogues can suggest that you have a sense of style and appreciate classic fashion with a touch of individuality. They often convey a sophisticated yet approachable image, showcasing your ability to balance tradition and personality.

Why are Oxfords better than brogues?

The choice between Oxfords and brogues depends on the occasion and personal style preferences. Oxfords are considered more formal and elegant due to their closed-lacing design, making them suitable for strict formal events. On the other hand, brogues offer a more versatile and slightly less formal option.

Can you wear oxfords with a dress?

Yes, Oxfords are suitable to wear with a dress, especially if the dress is semi-formal or business casual. However, for more formal dresses or evening gowns, it’s better to choose dress shoes that match the formality of the outfit.

Can you wear oxfords with jeans?

Wearing Oxfords with jeans can create a smart-casual or business-casual look, provided the Oxfords have a less formal appearance. Brown or suede Oxfords can be a good choice for this combination.

What pants to wear with brogues?

Brogues go well with a variety of pants, including dress slacks, chinos, corduroys, and even jeans for a casual look. The key is to ensure the pants match the level of formality of the brogues and the overall outfit.

Are brogues in fashion 2023?

As an AI language model, I cannot predict future fashion trends beyond my last update in September 2021. However, brogues have been a timeless and classic shoe style, so it’s possible that they may still be in fashion in 2023.

Can you wear brown brogues with black trousers?

Wearing brown brogues with black trousers is generally not recommended. Brown shoes are better paired with earth-toned trousers or navy, while black trousers are more suitable for black or dark-colored shoes like black Oxfords.

Should Oxfords be tight?

Oxfords should fit comfortably and snugly, but not excessively tight. They may feel slightly snug when new, but they should not cause discomfort or pain. Properly fitted Oxfords provide better support and prevent blisters or foot issues.

Are Oxford shoes supposed to be tight?

Oxford shoes should fit well and provide support without feeling too tight. It’s essential to find the right size and consider factors like the material of the shoes, which can stretch slightly over time.

Are Oxford shoes good for your feet?

Oxford shoes, when properly fitted and made with quality materials, can provide good support and comfort for your feet. However, everyone’s feet are different, so it’s essential to find shoes that suit your specific foot shape and needs.

Should brogues be tight?

Like any shoe, brogues should fit comfortably and provide adequate support. They should not be overly tight or too loose, as either can cause discomfort or foot problems.

Which color shoes are best for all dress?

Black and dark brown shoes are considered the most versatile and can go well with a wide range of outfits, from formal wear to business casual and smart-casual attire.

Can I wear brogues to the office?

Wearing brogues to the office is generally acceptable, especially in more relaxed or business-casual work environments. However, in very formal corporate settings, you may opt for traditional Oxfords or other dress shoes.

Are brogues good for walking?

Brogues are not specifically designed for long-distance walking or intense physical activities. While they offer comfort for regular walking, it’s best to use proper walking shoes or sneakers for extended walking or exercise.

Where do you wear brogues?

You can wear brogues to a variety of occasions, including semi-formal events, business casual settings, parties, weddings, and social gatherings. They are a versatile choice suitable for many different dress codes.

What shoes are you not supposed to wear socks with?

Loafers and boat shoes are examples of shoes that are often worn without socks to achieve a more relaxed and casual look.

Can brogues be worn casually?

Yes, brogues can be worn casually with jeans, chinos, or other casual trousers. They add a touch of sophistication to casual outfits.

Can you wear a grey suit to a black tie event?

A grey suit is generally not appropriate for a black-tie event, as black-tie dress codes call for a black or midnight blue tuxedo or evening gown.

Does black tie mean only black?

“Black tie” refers to a formal dress code, but it does not necessarily mean everything must be black. For men, it traditionally involves a black tuxedo with matching trousers, but dark navy or midnight blue tuxedos are also acceptable.

Can you wear brogues with skinny jeans?

Yes, you can wear brogues with skinny jeans for a smart-casual or business-casual look. The slim silhouette of the jeans complements the stylish appeal of the brogues.

Can I wear brogues with chinos?

Yes, brogues pair well with chinos, creating a classic and stylish combination suitable for various semi-formal and business-casual occasions.

Can brogues be worn with formal pants?

Yes, brogues can be worn with formal pants, as long as the pants and overall outfit maintain a suitable level of formality for the event or occasion.

What do Americans call brogues?

In the United States, the term “brogues” is commonly used to refer to the distinctive decorative perforations on dress shoes. The shoes themselves may be referred to simply as “brogue shoes” or “brogues.”

Can you wear brogues in summer?

Yes, you can wear brogues in summer, especially lighter-colored or suede versions, as they can add a touch of style to summer outfits while still offering breathability and comfort.

Who wore brogues?

Brogues have been worn by various people throughout history, from farmers and workers in Scotland and Ireland, where the style originated, to modern-day individuals as a popular and versatile dress shoe option.

Are brogues feminine?

Brogues are traditionally considered a men’s style, but in modern fashion, they have been adapted and embraced by women as well. Brogues can be worn by anyone, and the style is not inherently gender-specific.

How do shoes tell you about a person?

Shoes can provide subtle hints about a person’s personality and lifestyle choices. Formal dress shoes may suggest professionalism and attention to detail, while sneakers could indicate a more casual and active lifestyle.