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The Remarkable History of Wingtip Shoes

Posted on May 03 2019

The Remarkable History of Wingtip Shoes


The very first time you went shopping for your first pair of formal dress shoes, there’s a good chance that you were shown some wingtips. Think of the wingtip as kind of the quintessential men’s dress shoe.

Its form is elegant yet uncomplicated. It offers comfort while also remaining impeccably stylish.

In many ways, wingtips can be considered as the classic men’s shoe.

Wingtips are indeed integral elements of the male wardrobe, but have you ever paused to think about their origins, their evolution, and even just why they are called “wingtips” in the first place? If you are curious about those things, then you’ve come to the right place.

The Origin of Their Name

Let’s start with the name because it’s really interesting to learn how these shoes ended up being called as “wingtips.”

As you may know, wingtips weren’t always called as such. According to the Wolf & Shepherd, these shoes were first known as “brogues” when they were being used initially in Ireland and Scotland. “Brogue” comes from the Gaelic word “brog” and that term is connected to the Old Norse word “brók,” which means “leg covering.”

Originally, those older wingtips, or brogues, were used by people crossing wet locations such as bogs. The holes you may find on some brogues were placed there so that the water could drain away from the shoes and the wearer’s feet.

Nothing stays the same though and eventually, the brogues outgrew their initial purpose and evolved into the more modern shoes that we often see today. As part of their evolution, they also received a new name.

People eventually started calling the newer shoes as “wingtips” because of how well the shoes resembled the wings of birds, per Primer Magazine.

How Wingtips Became More Popular

The wingtips received a boost in popularity early on in the 20th century after they were seen being sported by influential figures. Foremost among those influential figures was the then Prince of Wales who decided to wear wingtips while taking part in a round of golf, according to LiveAbout.

In addition to the Prince of Wales, wingtips also received seals of approval from the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Those two megastars of yesteryear were seen performing their popular dance routines while wearing wingtips.

Even the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley, was seen wearing wingtips, thus helping those shoes become even more popular.

The Wingtips of Today

The wingtips that you will be able to see now in stores still follow the old design concepts for the most part. Possibly the biggest difference is that not all wingtips still come with those small holes that were useful for the purposes of draining water.

These days, wingtips can just be solid throughout and be simply designed, although some manufacturers still like to add a little flair to them.

For example, the Bosco wingtips from Belvedere Shoes feature crocodile leather with that distinct pattern prominently featured on the tongue of the shoe. If you’re looking to add some new wingtips to your shoe collection, the Bosco is a good option to consider.

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