How to wear wingtip shoes to the office

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What Are Wingtip Shoes?

A wingtip shoe is a dress shoe that features an ex

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.  

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Should you wear them with suits?

This is a good question and the answer, in my opinion, depends on two things:

  • How casual your office/occasion is
  • And how “brogued out” your dress shoes are

Brogue dress shoes are a more casual alternative to traditional Oxfords because of those decorative holes and details; they are just a little more busy looking that a nice and clean Oxford aesthetic.

That being said, most offices today aren’t too strict on dress code (at least not when compared to those of the mid-century). If your particular office is a bit conservative, sartorially speaking, then I would play it safe and stick with Oxfords.

On the other hand, if you have a little flexibility, I would suggest wearing a lightly brogued shoe like the one below, and in a darker brown hue to keep it dressy.

Pale Pink Blazer with Light Blue Skinny Jeans Blush Wingtip Oxfords


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To achieve this attractive outfit, here is what you have to do. Wear a black t shirt with a light pink blazer at the top. Pair them with a pair of light blue skinny jeans to look lean and refreshing at the same time. For the shoes, wear a pair of light blush pink suede wingtip oxfords to complete the look.

Our Last Word On Brogues

For most men, a pair of brogues makes sense as a tWhen building a shoe collection, it’s important to cover all your basics first and branch out from there. Brogues offer a unique opportunity to hit both of those categories.

For most men, a pair of brogues makes sense as a third shoe, right after you’ve acquired a basic black oxford and brown derby. It also makes sense as a tenth shoe, when you pick up a pair of ankle-height semi-brogue boots to round out your budding collection.

No matter where they fall in your rotation, brogues will offer you permanent style.

Proper Shoe Lace Length

There are two factors to consider, that will help you decide what length lace you'll need. The first is the number of ‘eyelet pairs,’ or ‘holes’ on your shoe. The second being the width and size of your foot.

Why does this matter? Well, over time, your shoe may stretch a little, or your feet may be a bit bigger. Generally, you'll only ever be deciding between two lengths of laces.

Dress shoes either have an even, or odd number, of eyelet pairs, and you choose your laces accordingly.

Shoe Laces Length Guide

  • 1-2:   21 inches
  • 2-3:  24 inches
  • 3:      27 inches
  • 3-4:  30 inches
  • 4-5:  40 inches
  • 5:      40 inches
  • 5-6:  45 inches
  • 6-7:  54 inches
  • 7-8:  63 inches
  • 8-9:  72 inches
  • 9-10: 84 inches

White Fit and Flare Lace Mini Dress with Wingtip Shoes


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To form this simple and refreshing outfit, here is what you have to do. Wear a white long sleeve semi-sheer fit and flare mini dress as the focal point of your outfit. Pair the beautiful dress with a pair of white wingtip oxfords. This all-white outfit can make you stand out from the crowd in a natural way.

History of Wingtip Shoes

In a way, wingtips are the OG of Crocs. Their perforations were originally incorporated to allow water to drain from the shoes after walking through wet terrain. Known as brogues in Europe, they originated in 16th century Ireland as a type of outdoor country shoe that men would wear while hunting or shooting because they were sturdy and could handle the rugged landscape. In fact, brogue derives from the Old Irish word for "shoe:" bróg. And while they were not considered appropriate for any other occasion besides being outdoors, that changed by the end of the 19th century. The invention of Jan Matzeliger's shoe lasting machine in 1883 increased the production of shoes and decreased their cost, thereby ushering them into mainstream fashion.

In the early 1900s, wingtips became known as sporting shoes thanks to the Prince of Wales, who wore a pair of two-toned wingtips (a.k.a. "spectators" or "co-respondent") during a golf outing. Screen legends Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly also popularized the shoes in their famed dance routines. Actresses Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich made a statement—fashion and otherwise—when they dressed in this classic style typically reserved for men. The saddle shoe, a variation of the wingtip, features black or brown leather over the instep and emerged in the 1950s. It was made famous when Elvis Presley donned a pair in the film, Jailhouse Rock. Model Twiggy continued the women-for-wingtips trend in the '70s, which has recently been revived among fashionistas today.

Colored Laces For Dress Shoes? What are the Style Rules?

Traditionally men’s dress shoes are worn to smart events or may be part of your formal business attire. ‘Fancy colored’ laces are also available but proceed with extreme caution.

Your enthusiastically chosen bright colored shoe laces may scream poor taste, when worn with beautiful Oxfords, to a business meeting. However, they can add a lot of character, and be a fun choice if you’re wearing formal dress shoes to a less formal event.

The golden rule, often quoted, for men’s shoe choices is this – “Avoid brown in town.’’ Generally, brown shoes, even dress shoes, are not a good choice for the evening.

It's usually better to wear black dress shoes in the evening when you're ‘out on the town.’ Be sure that your laces are threaded correctly in your shoes, and never – never – criss-cross your dress shoe laces.

It may seem like a small difference, but it looks much smarter. Keep your dress shoe laces straight, or bar, and enjoy looking your stylish best.

Method #2 (Straight-Bar-Lace)

Historically, the straight-bar lacing has been the standard for Oxfords. It presents a clean, uniform and formal look well-suited to the closed lacing system of the shoe. 

  1. Thread the lace from the exterior of the lacestay through row 1 of eyelets.
  2. Take the right lace, thread it through the left eyelet from the interior of the lacestay on row 2.
  3. Move the same lace straight across to the right eyelet on row 2, thread it through from the exterior of the lacestay.
  4. Take the right lace, thread it through the left eyelet on row 3 from the interior of the lacestay.
  5. Move the same lace straight across to the right eyelet on row 2, thread it through from the exterior of the lacestay.
  6. Take the right lace, thread it through the left eyelet from the interior of the lacestay on row 4.
  7. Move the same lace straight across to the right eyelet on row 4, thread it through from the exterior of the lacestay.
  8. Thread both laces on their same sides through the interior of the lacestay on row 5.
  9. Tie the ends together.

Method #5 (Diagonal)

The diagonal lacing method created a cool visual pop and will set you apart from everyone else.

  1. Insert the lace from the exterior of the lacestay through the eyelet on row 1.
  2. Extend the lace across to the left side of the shoe, over the exterior of the lacestay and through the left eyelet on row 1.
  3. Bring the right end of the lace to the left side of the shoe and thread it over the lacestay into the left eyelet on row 2. Note: Both ends should now be together on the left side, under the lacestay.
  4. Bring the end of the lace that’s coming out of row 1 on the left over to the right side of the shoe. Thread it from the interior of the lacestay through the right eyelet on row 2.
  5. Bring this same end to the left side and over the exterior of the lacestay, and through the left eyelet on row 3.
  6. Take the other end, from the left side, and thread it from the interior of the lacestay through the right eyelet on row 3.
  7. Bring this same end to the left side and over the exterior of the lacestay, and through the left eyelet on row 4.
  8. Extend the end of the lace coming out of the left eyelet on row 3 through the interior of the lacestay through the right eyelet on row 4.
  9. Bring this same end to the left side and over the exterior of the lacestay, and through the left eyelet on row 5.
  10. Take the other end, from the left side, and thread it from the interior of the lacestay through the right eyelet on row 5.
  11. Tie the ends together.

How to Wear Wingtips

Today's wingtips seem to have it all. Classic iterations (think: leather dress shoes) offer a timeless elegance that presents a stark contrast to their rustic past. Still, broguing may deter some traditionalists from wearing wingtips to a formal event; hence, the audible gasps when Prince William stepped out in wingtips at his royal wedding. Whether intentional or not, his fashion faux pas taught us something: Fashion follows no rules but rather, evolves.

Contemporary shoe designers are now crafting wingtips to suit any occasion. As such, they come in a wider range of materials, from leather to canvas, so you can dress up or down as you see fit. To us, they're the perfect show-off shoe that can pair well with any outfit or mood. So whether you're headed to the office or perhaps out on a date, consider wingtips to top off your look.

History of the Oxford shoe

Grey suit & socks with clocks with black Oxfor
Grey suit & socks with clocks with black Oxford brogue
Brown Oxford with patterns socks and pinpoint trou
Brown Oxford with patterns socks and pinpoint trousers
Brown oxford shoe with mid brown suit and purple s
Brown oxford shoe with mid brown suit and purple socks

Some claim the Oxford shoe emerged from Scotland and Ireland. Captoe Oxfords are often called Balmorals after Balmoral Castle to this day. However, what is clear is that they were a result of a quest for a more comfortable shoe and that they were first associated with university students rather than with the older generation of the time.  The timeline for these changes is not very clear, with different sources giving different timelines.

However, we do know for certain that in 1846 Joseph Sparkes Hall, the inventor of the Chelsea boot, stated in The New Monthly Magazine that “Dress pumps are the only shoes now worn. The Oxonian shoe … is the best for walking. It laces up the front with three or four holes. It is none other than high lows now called Oxford shoes.” So, at least by then, the name Oxford had caught on in public.

From there, it was a short step to being acceptable as the proper choice of men’s footwear as boots were now being relegated to being worn for specialized activities such as horse riding. Ironically, the Oxford is a shoe with origins on campus but today, it would probably be considered too formal as an everyday shoe for on-campus wear even by English students, but that’s the evolution of style.

Tan Cap Toe Oxford without Heel Cap and 6 eyelets
Tan Cap Toe Oxford without Heel Cap and 6 eyelets with burnished cap toe

Characteristics of the Oxford Shoe

In a nutshell, these are the features of a present-day Oxford Shoe

  1. Closed lacing system.
  2. Low-heeled
  3. Exposed ankle.

All Oxford shoes share these essential features, and although most have the eyelets on the quarter, a wholecut or seamless Oxford are the exceptions.

How Many Different Brogue Styles Are There?

A fully comprehensive list of every style brogue ever made is beyond the scope of any one article. Broguing is an aesthetic detail as opposed to a structural one, so it’s seen on a wide variety of shoes and in countless style permutations. While very common on lace-ups (you’ll see both bluchers and oxfords in the graphics below), broguing is also found on monk straps, boots, and even sneakers.

Full Brogue

Full brogues are what most of us think of when we

Full brogues are what most of us think of when we hear the terms “brogue” or “wingtip.” It has a medallion at the toe, broguing arranged in a wingtip pattern, and more perforations around the quarters, throat, and heel counter.

Semi-Brogue

Also known as a half-brogue, a semi brogue has a p

Also known as a half-brogue, a semi brogue has a perforated and pinked cap-toe detail along with a medallion at the toe.

Quarter Brogue

Technically more formal than a semi-brogue, the qu

Technically more formal than a semi-brogue, the quarter brogue is basically a cap toe in which the cap has perforations. There’s no medallion on the toe.

Austerity Brogue

We like to call this a “wingtip” becau

We like to call this a “wingtip” because there’s technically no broguing. This is simply a shoe on whose toe there’s stitching arranged in the shape of a bird’s wings.

Blind Brogue

A blind brogue is an otherwise full brogue that ha

A blind brogue is an otherwise full brogue that has no medallion at the toe.

Longwing

This is another type of full brogue that’s s

This is another type of full brogue that’s so popular, it deserves its own space. The perforations are arranged in such a way that we still have a wing pattern on the toe, but they span the full sides of the shoe and meet at the heel counter in the back. Florsheim is a popular maker of this model in the States.

Ghillie Brogue

The only brogue that’s appropriate for eveni

The only brogue that’s appropriate for evening wear, this is worn as part of Highland Dress along with a kilt. This shoe has no tongue and very long laces that end up tying just below the calf. This type of brogue bears more resemblance to the bròg from olden days than any other style.

As these are evening shoes, they should ideally be black.

Brogue Your Options

As mentioned earlier, not all brogues are the same. Mr Schaerf was kind enough to break down each type. Learn how to speak brogue, below.

Full Or Wingtip

Full or wingtipis the style with the most broguing. Every seam is brogued, including the characteristic ‘m’ shaped ‘wingtip’ seam at the vamp of the shoe. The wingtip brogue always has a punched toe medallion.

Semi-Brogue

The semi brogue usually has all of its seams brogued and also usually has a medallion on the toe. The main difference between the semi and full brogue is that the semi brogue has a straight toe cap line rather than a wingtip design.

Longwing

A longwing is a wingtip brogue where the wingtip continues right to the back of the shoe instead of angling down towards the sole. They have no toe cap patterning either, just edge perforations. It is a classic American style.

Quarter Brogue

On a quarter brogue only the toe cap seam is brogued. This is basically a straight cap oxford, so it is a pretty formal shoe, and is actually a favourite of many London bankers.

Spectator Brogue

The spectator is a two tone brogue, usually a wingtip with the toe, heel and lacing in a dark colour and the rest of the shoe in a contrasting lighter tone. This was a classic style in the 1930s and 40s, where it was considered debonair and rakish: you wouldn’t want your daughter going out with a fellow in spectators.

Dress Shoes Buying Guide:

The demand for dress shoes is quite high. You may have seen many of your colleagues in this style’s shoes, whenever they attend parties or corporate events. You may have thought about buying brogue shoes for yourself, but how to buy them? Our reviewed wingtip shoes may reduce difficulties to a good extent, but still, you should know the “things to consider before buying the wingtip shoes”. Thus, you will invest your bucks in the best quality. We have explained the buying guide below, which you can check and learn how to buy the best dress shoes.

Search For The Required Color And Material:

The dress shoes can be available in a wide range of materials and colors. The selection of the color and material depends on which color or material shoes will match the best with your outfits. Suppose, you wear a gray or brown suit in your office or party, burnished brown and black, both colors’ leather oxford will look impressive. The synthetic dress shoes also look attractive, but you should wear them with casual wear.

The Weight And Size:

Of course, you won’t make the mistake of buying wingtip boots without considering the size. The online retailers offer them in various size specifications. You should first find a shoe in your size and then check its weight. Many retailers provide details on the complete weight of the shoe. The brogue style is renowned for being heavier than others, but wingtip brogues can be lighter if the upper and sole material is synthetic.

Type Of Closure:

This may not make a big difference for you, but many men are quite particular about the type of closure. Some men want oxford-style closure because it offers them a more elegant look. Some men want the derby style closure because they want to look more stylish. You should also pay the attention to the type of closure so that you can choose impressive footwear.

You have to consider only these three things before buying the wingtip shoes. These things will help you in reducing the search for the best pair of shoes. So, follow the guide, check the reviews, and place the order now.

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