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What are Wingtip Shoes?

By Janis Adams
Updated May 17, 2024
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Also known as the full brogue shoe, wingtip shoes are shoes with a pointed toe cap. Falling in the center of the shoes, the toe cap extends from either side, creating a look of wings. When looking down upon the shoe, it appears that a bird has its wings fully extended. Originally created as a shoe for men, the wingtip design is now commonly found in women's and children's shoes.

The wingtip shoe design first appeared in Scotland and Ireland. The design was used for shoes that were created for the purpose of being sturdy and durable for long-term outdoor use. These original wingtip shoes were not intended for dress wear, but instead were entirely utilitarian in the way they were constructed.

Perforations along the wing are a common decorative element of the wingtip design. However, the original purpose of the perforations was not ornamental. Instead, the perforations were added to allow for drainage of water if the wearer happened to find that he had stepped in water. In Scotland and Ireland, this was a very common problem out in the country, where bogs are prevalent.

These sturdy leather shoes have largely evolved over the decades since their first use as an outdoor shoe that provided comfort and durability. Their work shoe origins have largely been forsaken over the years. Now wingtips are considered a fashionable shoe.

The fashionable wingtip shoes now worn still have the perforations that the shoes of yesteryear boasted. Their purpose, however, is now to augment the wings of the shoe and to further accentuate their shape and distinctive design quality. The edges of the wingtips of the shoe are now commonly serrated to further heighten the drama of their unique design.

Along with these leather works, a common element is the two-tone contrasting leather of the newer styles. The leather of the toe and heal are set in an opposing color to the main upper color of the shoe. These color contrasts can range from a simple difference in the shade of the hue all the way to two opposing colors. The stitching along the toe cap can be done in the same hue as the leather of the rest of the shoe, or it can be done in a standout color so that the craftsmanship is more apparent.

Wingtip shoes have largely changed from when they first appeared decades ago. These changes have reflected more upon their usage than their basic design. What has not changed about wingtip shoes over the centuries is their consistent and ongoing popularity.

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Discussion Comments

By anon351733 — On Oct 16, 2013

I would highly recommend wearing wingtips with jeans and a blazer.

By John57 — On Jun 28, 2012

My husband would not head out the door with his golf bag if he didn't have his wingtip golf shoes with him too. I told him it probably doesn't make a difference in how he plays the game, but he loves his special golf shoes.

I guess it isn't much different than me wearing my favorite pair of shoes when I go shopping. I want something that is comfortable but yet looks fashionable too.

I have never owned a pair of wingtip shoes for myself. I am much more interested in some of the newer styles that look more fashionable than they used to.

By SarahSon — On Jun 28, 2012

It took me awhile to come around to the idea of wingtip shoes for women. Most of them had more of casual look than I was used to and I also thought they looked too masculine.

Usually I like to wear very feminine looking dress shoes with a high heel. When we started wearing casual clothes to work on Friday, I bought a pair of wingtip shoes for women. It didn't take me long to realize how much more comfortable they are to wear.

I would feel out of place wearing them most days to work, but when I dress down on Friday, they have become one of my favorite pair of shoes.

By Mykol — On Jun 27, 2012
My husband has more than one pair of wingtip shoes and often wears these to work. Most of them are a solid color, either black or brown.

He has one pair of two tone wingtip shoes that I am not used to yet. He loves them, but there aren't as many things he can wear them with like he can a solid pair.

There are many different styles of wingtip shoes available. You can find them in dressy styles, casual styles and everything in between. I think my husband would feel just as strange without any wingtip shoes in his closet as I would without flip flops in the summer.

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