The kiltie shoe is a distinctive yet somewhat elusive rustic style of loafer that can be recognised by its band spiky strips of leather across the vamp.
Typically made as a loafer, the kiltie component can be accompanied by decorative laces, tassels, or even a buckle! Meanwhile, the shoe may be a moccasin or feature a brogue-style cap toe and medallion.
In this guide, you will learn all about kiltie shoes as well as the best kiltie loafers to buy online:
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What Is A Kiltie Shoe?
Kilties are shoes that have fringed leather panels covering the instep. Also referred to as an “extended tongue,” this is to protect the instep from mud and prevent laces from catching on foreign objects.
This has been a common style for golf shoes for decades and has also been referred to as a “golfing brogue.” Nowadays, the style is found on slip-on shoes and is often paired with tassels.
Best Kiltie Shoes For Men
Here’s our list of the Best Kiltie Shoes that you can buy online right now:
- Lethato Kiltie Buckle Loafer
- Allen Edmonds Nashua Tassel Kiltie
- Paul Parkman Kiltie Tassel Wingtip Loafer
- Florsheim Lexington Wingtip Tassel Kiltie
- Dr Martens Adrian Core
- Nunn Bush Denzel Tassel Kiltie
Interested in a particular pair? Just click on the link above to jump right to it!
Lethato is a relatively new independent brand that is based in Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Although Indian shoe brands may not seem common, it’s worth remembering that British brands like Grenson, Loake, and Barker also produce shoes there!
Lethato has opted for a rich hand-painted finish in a variety of different colourways. Furthermore, you can choose between a buckle or tassel style of kiltie loafer. For a bolder and adventurous loafer, opt for the buckle.
Meanwhile, the tassel loafer will be somewhat more conventional and understated.
"Great value and a stylish design renders the Lethato kiltie shoe a great option to try out this type of loafer."
It’s no surprise that the classic American brand has its own kiltie loafer. At almost double the price of Lethato, you can correctly assume that it’s somewhat more luxurious.
Crafted from two-tone calfskin leather, it features a grain finish and a two-tone effect with a smooth trim. It’s an overall conventional shoe with a quintessentially casual and understated design. If you’re looking for a classic kiltie loafer, it’s probably the best choice.
Handmade in Turkey, Paul Parkman combines artisanal craftsmanship with Italian-inspired designs. Featuring lavish hand-painted colours and original designs, its shoes are outlandish but still retain a healthy dose of elegance.
As you can see, the shoe has a wingtip toe, which adds a notch of formality. Nevertheless, be mindful that it’s still an overall casual shoe. If you’re curious, you’ll see via the link above that Paul Parkman has lots of different kiltie loafer designs with a spectrum of original colours.
Like Allen Edmonds, Florsheim is another cherished American brand with a distinctive kiltie loafer. Like the Paul Parkman model, it features a wingtip and toe medallion. Being black, it’s probably the most formal kiltie loafer here.
Nevertheless, as mentioned before, it’s still a very casual style of shoe. However, this quite affordable model will grant you some leeway for pushing dress code boundaries.
At just $60, the Nunn Bush kiltie loafer is wonderfully affordable. Of course, don’t expect the best quality out of the other shoes listed here. Nevertheless, it gives you great value for a casual shoe that you can wear to death over a few months.
Available in rich burgundy, cognac, and black, the colour choices will help you determine its overall formality. We’re quite fond of the dark burgundy, which is going to be the most versatile choice.
You probably weren’t expecting a rugged walking boot in this guide. Nevertheless, we wanted to include it here just to show you the prominance of the kiltie vamp. As mentioned, it was originally designed for practical reasons and protected the shoes.
While most kiltie components are largely decorative, its origins mean that it may often be found on more utilitarian footwear. Of course, the kiltie here is still decorative. However, it’s effectively used to highlight the boot’s rustic design and heritage.
Golf & The History Of The Kiltie
Golf as we know it can be traced back to what is now Scotland in the year 1457. Anyone who’s ever played golf knows that your shoes can get rather mucked up, and this is particularly the case in the British Isles, which is known for its rain, which creates mud, which wrecks shoes.
Kilties were common in Scotland; the shoe’s name is derived from the tradition of wearing these shoes with kilts. Basically, the shoe was a brogue (a Scottish-Irish invention) with an extended tongue to cover the laces.
This is simply how shoes were made in Scotland at the time, and golfers didn’t wear special shoes to golf, they simply wore their kilties.
Voila! They became golf shoes. Nowadays, you can buy golf-specific kilties that have cleats if you so choose.
Modern Kilties: How To Wear Them
In modern times, “kiltie” or “kilty” refers to any shoe that has a fringe leather panel covering the instep, regardless of whether it’s an extended tongue or not. In fact, in a loafer the kiltie is created by folding an extended vamp over itself. They may have laces, tassels, and even buckles adorning them.
These are “sporty” shoes, whereas true golf kilties (which still exist and are worn by golfers who like the look) would be considered “athletic” shoes.
They have a bit of reputation as a shoe for older men (what we prefer to call “Grandpa chic”), but depending on the last, they can look quite sleek.
Kilties are casual shoes. Not shorts and a t-shirt casual, but chinos and a collared shirt casual. Some pairing suggestions are offered below, but know that the possibilities are much more exhaustive than what’s laid out here:
- Jeans: Brown or tan suede or leather kilties
- Casual trousers: Lace kilties in blue or brown suede
- Odd jackets & trousers: Burgundy, brown, or black calfskin buckle kilties
As you can see, we’ve talked about a few different kinds of kilties here. Below you’ll find some pictures for reference.
Kilties can be worn any time of year, you just need to be conscious of color and material when making selections. Lighter colors and suedes tend to be best for spring and summer, while darker colors tend to work better in cold autumn and winter months.
We offer some suggestions below. Note that these are starting points, not hard-and-fast rules:
- Spring: Tan or light brown buckle kiltie in leather or suede
- Summer: Light brown and white two-tone kiltie in leather & nubuck
- Autumn: Chocolate brown tassel kiltie in leather or suede
- Winter: Burgundy tassel kiltie in calfskin or cordovan leather
How To Not Look Like An Old Man In Kilties
As we said above, these shoes can either look geriatric or Grandpa-chic. The difference is in the height of the vamp.
Shoes with a vamp that sits relatively low on the foot (that is, closer to the toes than the ankles) will have an “older” vibe about them. This isn’t to say young guys can’t wear them, it just means that you have to have a certain panache to pull it off well.
Vamps that sit closer to the ankles than the toes, however, have a younger appearance and are thus easier to pull off as a kiltie. This isn’t to say that older gentlemen can’t wear them, it’s just that younger men won’t look as if they’re trying too hard.
Kiltie As Charged: Are Kilties For Me?
Good question. It depends.
If you’re just starting to build a collection, don’t buy a kiltie shoe. There are more versatile shoes you need to focus on acquiring, and if you’re a young guy, wearing kilties may make you look like a kid who doesn’t know what he’s doing, so he just borrowed his dad’s shoes before he left the house.
If, however, you’ve got a good collection going and you want to branch out into something not commonly seen on men under sixty, pick up a pair of kilties and wear them with well-tailored trousers.
More Shoe Resources
Interested in learning more about other shoe styles? Visit one of our detailed resources below: