Wingtip Shoes - Relaxed or Formal?

What does wingtip mean in a shoe?

Wingtips are often referred to as full brogues, but this isn't strictly correct.

The wingtip term is from the long W shape that goes from the toe to halfway down the shoe. The term 'brogue' actually means the holes or perforations that most wingtips have, but not all.

Also sometimes called wingcaps, there are many variations and level of decoration.  Some have a zig zag effect called pinking or gimping, and this gives a more country look especially with thicker soles and a 'grain' leather effect. Is is believed that country brogue originated in Ireland and Scotland as a heavy country shoe, and the holes (brogue) let out water in wet weather.  We don't know if this is true but it's a good story.

So are wingcaps casual or formal?

Well the Thomas Bird wingtip seen below (style: Madison) is a smart wingtip brogue without the country details. There's no zig zag gimping or 'grain' effect, and it has a standard weight leather/rubber sole. 

Derby wingtip brogue in light tan

We designed it to be an elegant, stylish dress shoe and to fit in with business or formal outfits, but so it could be also dressed down in a more casual look.

Thomas Bird Italian made derby wingtips are designed to be more relaxed and less formal than their oxford cousins but still smart, stylish and elegant. Our Madison style uses open derby lacing which adds to the more relaxed, less formal look.

Derby or Oxford Wingtips?

Our first wingtip was Madison, an informal derby based wingtip. While this works in many situations, sometimes you want to be a touch more formal, and that means Oxford. So we introduced our new Cambridge oxford wingtip, see below.

Oxford wingtip brogue in oxblood

Cambridge oxford wingtip in a rich oxblood is perfect formal shoe.

What is the best wingtip colour?

Of course this a matter of taste and the outfits you want to pair them with.

Black wingtips are versatile and perfect for a business office and smart formal occasions. They could look perfect as a formal wedding shoe, and equally look good on the honeymoon dressed down with a pair of blue jeans.

Brown and tan also work well with a smart or semi casual look. Many stylish men wear brown wingtips with a suit, including @chesterblogger wearing Thomas Bird Italian made brown brogues below.

Brown wingtips with blue suit

Different types of wingtip shoe

There are other types of wingtip, such as longwing brogues where the wing extends to the back of the shoe.  Spectator shoes are a special variation that usually have two contrasting colours, for example white and black leather, and some combine leather with another material such as tweed.  Where our Madison style is a derby wingtip, oxford wingtips are also popular as the Cambridge style below.

Oxford wingtip brogue in tan

We mentioned earlier than they don't need to have the brogue punching, and the version without are some times called Austerity brogues.  And there are wingtip boots such as our Montana wingtip country boot.

Here's another look at Madison, paired with a dark navy suit.

Brown wingtip derby brogue

Madison Italian Wingcap/full brogue - relaxed styling but still smart. High quality full grain calf leather, hand coloured patina, full leather lining and a stitched sole are just some of the details that make it a quality shoe.

Styling with wingtips

We love wingtips because they are versatile.  In black they be very dressy and formal, just a little bit less than an oxford.  But they pair with jeans and a jacket just as well, especially in a brown or tan.

So we think every man should own at least one pair of these classic dress shoes. They are timeless, versatile, and with care a quality pair should serve you for many years.

Like all quality shoes, they will last longer if you let them rest and dry for at least a day after wearing them, use a wax or cream to keep the leather nourished and in good condition, and always use a shoe horn to maintain the shape of the heel. 

What do you think?  Please leave a comment below.

And you can see lots more photos of our shoes and boots being worn on:



All the best,

Thomas Bird

Other links/sources : Brogues/Wingtips (Wikipedia)