Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to Wear It: Brogues

British style weekly Grazia has annointed brogues/wingtips as a women's wear must-have for the coming season. Given the alternative--stratospheric heels that seem perfect for car-to-bar-to-trauma-center rather than a full day out--this makes a lot of sense.

But these traditional men's shoes, typically bearing decorative patterns of perforations and scalloped edging, can be difficult to wear too, unless you think being called a "handsome woman" is the highest form of flattery. They're impossible to pull off with lightweight skirts. With skinny-leg trousers, your feet risk looking enormous. In their most flattering incarnation they're worn with slightly rumpled linen-y trousers with a fairly wide leg, and possibly a turn-up/cuff. With this as an Annie-Hall style bottom, you can go quite a bit more feminine on top to counter the sensibility at ground level.

While it would be perfectly lovely to splash out a couple hundred on brand-new brogues, vintage examples are worth the hunt. If you're amply-footed, you'll be delighted to find that you can finally find vintage shoes that fit, because men's feet back then size up perfectly with our feet right now.

Look for names like Church's, John Lobb, or one of the countless Italian makers of fine footgear. These latter very often have detailing like braidwork, exotic skins, and fancy stitchery that further feminizes the shoe.