The Irish word brog means ‘a rough or stout shoe’.
The Merriam–Webster dictionary describes broguing (brogue: ing – noun) as an ornamentation of shoes employing heavy perforations. Therefore, any shoe, with perforations is a brogue – whether it is a Derby or Oxford shoe.
The Brogue was originally designed in Scotland and Ireland for wearing outdoors in the wet countryside. They were made with untanned animal hide and their distinctive feature was a series of perforations and serrations (broguing) on each piece of leather that was used in their construction. The purpose of these perforations was to allow water to drain from the shoes.
Slowly over time they were used by country gentlemen as a walking shoe and hence not considered appropriate for social or business occasions. However, things changed in the twentieth century when the brogue became a template for fashionable women’s footwear and the perforations or broguing were now used for decorative purposes. Famous celebrity women such as the actresses Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn incorporated it into their signature style of daring masculine fashion choices. Perceptions began to change and slowly the brogue began to be considered appropriate wear, even for men for both social and business occasions.
In Full brogues or Wingtips, the cap is shaped like a ‘W’ when seen from above. It features broguing along its edges as well as decorative broguing in the center of the toe cap, which is called Medallion.
In Longwing Brogues, the wingtips (wings) extend along the full length of the shoe and meet at a center seam at the heel.
Semi or Half brogues have a toe cap and a medallion without wings with broguing both along the cap’s edge and sides.
Quarter brogues have toe caps without medallion and wings. They have broguing only along the caps edge.
A Ghillie brogue is a Full brogue or wingtip but does not have a tongue and has long laces that wrap around the legs above the ankle and are tied below the calf.
Half brogues or quarter brogues can be worn as a dress shoe with a suit as they are not too elaborate and maintain the formality of the outfit. On other semi–formal occasions where a blazer or a sports coat will suffice, the wingtip makes for an ideal choice maintaining just the right amount of formality and casualness. In a casual setting , the brogue can be paired with jeans, chinos, and most other casual trousers.