Fashion School: Learn the Difference Between Oxfords and Brogues

Contributing Digital Editor

I get irrationally irritated at many things: pedestrians, cotton swabs, dogs that don't walk at their master's side, when somebody at the gym uses my treadmill and, most recently, the confusion between brogues and oxfords. Somewhere down the line, people just started assuming that any laceup shoe was a brogue. That's just not the case. Let's clear some things up.

Brogues were originally a men's shoe and used to be very informal. They're recognizable by decorative patterns along the toe and along the edges of the shoe's piecing. This design is called "broguing" which is like vogueing, but for bros.  The modern versions, which can be worn with anything from formalwear to jeans, are a far cry from their ancestors, though. They're the evolution of a fully perforated shoe worn by Scottish farmers, designed to drain water as they crossed mud, marsh and bog. You may also consider them the original Crocs.

Now, this is where things get a little tricky. You see, an oxford shoe isn't necessarily a brogue, but it can be. Oxfords are so named for their closure—they have shoelace eyelets sewn underneath as opposed to, well, elsewhere. Got it? Good. Now, if you have an oxford shoe, it can have broguing on it and therefore earn brogue status. So, not all brogues are oxfords, not all oxfords are brogues, therefore, oxfords and brogues are not equal.

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