‘Oxfords, not brogues’. As movie clangers go, it’s hardly on the scale of that Starbucks coffee cup in the last season of Game of Thrones. Nor that impatient stormtrooper who couldn’t wait for the door to open in the first Star Wars film. Still, for a flick that puts classical men’s tailoring front and centre, it’s fair to say that someone in the writers’ room of Kingsman: The Secret Service had a bit of a stinker.
In the Savile Row-centred sardonic spy-comedy, the line ‘Oxfords, not brogues’ is tendered as a style rule by Colin Firth’s debonair Harry Hart to Taron Egerton’s tracksuit-loving ‘Eggsy’. Subtext reading: ‘real gentlemen wear Oxfords, not brogues’. The thing is, one’s a type of shoe. The other a decorative pattern. It’s not a binary choice. The line should have been, ‘Oxfords, not Derbys.’ What’s the difference? It’s all in the laces.
Oxford shoes are defined by a closed lacing system, where the eyelet tabs are attached under the shoe’s vamp (the bit that covers the toes and top of the foot). Derbies, on the other hand (foot?), feature eyelet tabs that are sewn on top of the vamp. Essentially, it all comes down to stitching.
While you’ll never going to look out of place pairing Derbies with a suit, for their cleaner, sleeker look, Oxfords are considered the smarter, more formal option. Cap-toe, plain-toe, whole-cut and wingtip are the most popular options. ‘Brogued’, meanwhile, simply refers to the process of perforating shoes with small decorates hotels. Both Oxfords and Derbies can be brogues. You’d have thought that Firth would have known that.
Now we’ve cleared that up, allow us to present this season’s best Oxford shoes (including some brogues)…