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Cap toes, brouges, semi-brouges, monk straps

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm trying to get a feel for how shoes are normally used. I understand cap toes are probably the most formal dress shoe (save for patent leather pumps, of course), and look good with any fine suit. How about monk straps? I assume they are best employed with wool trousers and a nice shirt and perhaps even a blazer, for a casual elegant look. Is that right? Also, what about brouges and semi-brouges? How, where and when? My take is that brouges and semi-brouges are fine with suits, but with more conservative suits -- say your standard issue 2-button pinstipe. Again, am I right on that? Any expert opinions would be appreciated.
post #2 of 5
I wear cap-toes only with suits, monkstraps with everything from jeans to suits. Solid-toe oxfords are actually dressier, though. I actually just got my first pair of perforated-toe shoes for xmas, and I've been wearing them mostly with jeans but once with a sportcoat. However, they're a bit unusual, the Tod's ones built on the same platform as their peerless bowling shoes. Peace, JG
post #3 of 5
Let's go through the basics of shoe design. Leaving aside all slip-on moccasin type shoes, a basic lace-up shoe ("Oxford" in America) consists of the vamp (the piece that covers the toes and goes up the foot) and the two quarters (the side pieces that take the eyelets in the front and are stitched together at the heel). All other bits, toe caps and heel cap (counter), are decoration and not absolutely necessary. There are two basic styles of lace up shoe: Balmoral (bal) and Blucher (American terminology, in England it's Oxford and Derby). On a bal, the vamp goes over the quarters which is also called closed lacing; with a blucher the quarters go over the vamp, open lacing. Here is the same style, wingtip with all the trimmings (full brogue) in a blucher and bal version: http://www.aldenshop.com/wingtip.asp http://www.aldenshop.com/wingtipbal.asp The Bal is the most formal style; the Blucher is the more casual one. The monkstrap (shoe with buckle) belongs to the Blucher family and might be slightly more formal than an ordinary Blucher. Now we come to the decoration: The toe cap can be either straight or lyre shaped (wing tip) and there is also the (optional) heal cap. Add to this the brougeing: the decoration of the edges with a series of holes forming a pattern and a medallion on the toes. The more decoration the shoe has, the more casual it becomes. Straight tip is more formal then wing tip and plain edges is more formal than brouged. So a plain front bal is about the most formal shoe and a wing tip blucher with all the trimmings the most casual. The monkstrap is casual-elegant while the Norwegian (split toe) is rather sporty. But really, who cares about those rules: If you like the shoes, wear them.
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post
Let's go through the basics of shoe design. Leaving aside all slip-on moccasin type shoes, a basic lace-up shoe ("Oxford" in America) consists of the vamp (the piece that covers the toes and goes up the foot) and the two quarters (the side pieces that take the eyelets in the front and are stitched together at the heel). All other bits, toe caps and heel cap (counter), are decoration and not absolutely necessary.

There are two basic styles of lace up shoe: Balmoral (bal) and Blucher (American terminology, in England it's Oxford and Derby). On a bal, the vamp goes over the quarters which is also called closed lacing; with a blucher the quarters go over the vamp, open lacing. Here is the same style, wingtip with all the trimmings (full brogue) in a blucher and bal version:
http://www.aldenshop.com/wingtip.asp
http://www.aldenshop.com/wingtipbal.asp

The Bal is the most formal style; the Blucher is the more casual one. The monkstrap (shoe with buckle) belongs to the Blucher family and might be slightly more formal than an ordinary Blucher.

Now we come to the decoration: The toe cap can be either straight or lyre shaped (wing tip) and there is also the (optional) heal cap. Add to this the brougeing: the decoration of the edges with a series of holes forming a pattern and a medallion on the toes. The more decoration the shoe has, the more casual it becomes. Straight tip is more formal then wing tip and plain edges is more formal than brouged.

So a plain front bal is about the most formal shoe and a wing tip blucher with all the trimmings the most casual. The monkstrap is casual-elegant while the Norwegian (split toe) is rather sporty. But really, who cares about those rules: If you like the shoes, wear them.

Bengal-stripe: Excellent post...succinct and very informative! Could you expand to comment on where you see "wholecut" designs fitting in? Thanks in advance.
post #5 of 5
Yes, very nice, bengal-stripe. I might add one or two more observations. I tend to see plain cap-toes as essentially business shoes and don't wear them for more formal occasions, wearing instead a completely plain-toe balmoral. As we to down in formality to the semi-brogue (square cap with brogued medallion) and then to full brogue (wingtip) balmorals, my sense is that these are still fine with suits, and perhaps superior to the more formal balmorals with tweed and heavier weave suits.

With monk shoes, I think it's a little more difficult to classify them with respect to formality. The monks with swept-back strap and the strap coming fully (or almost fully) across the vamp--like the JLobb Jermyn II, Vale, and Chapel or the EG Oundle--are more formal than the monks with a gap between the facings--like the JLobb Gary and Newland or the EG Troon and Walpole. And both of these are more formal than the monks with Norwegian toes like the JLobb Bourne and EG Ashby. Thus, I'd have no trouble wearing a pair of Vales, for example, with a smooth worsted suit for all but the most formal of events, but wouldn't wear a pair of Troons this way, seeing them as more fitting with jacket/odd trousers. I get quite a bit of wear out of my EG Ashbys with sports jacket and wool trousers (with and without tie).

Just some thoughts....

Edit: As for wholecuts, these appear to be seen as slightly less formal than, say, a plain-toe balmoral with seams. I suppose the wholecut construction is seen as a little more avant-garde than traditional seamed construction.
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