A longwing is a style of brogue in which the wingtip perforations span the full length of both sides of the shoe, meeting at the heel counter. In other words, the “wing” tip is “long”er than your typical brogue, hence the term “longwing.”
“Longwing” is therefore not a structural element like oxford or derby, but rather an aesthetic one, such as brogue, bit, or bicycle toe. It is worth nothing that more often than not, they are made in the derby style with open-throat lacing systems as opposed to the closed-throat oxford style. The detail can also show up on loafers, monkstraps, and other styles of shoe.
Available in nearly every color and material under the sun, longwings are a shoe style that can work with just about anything. Whether ready-to-wear or custom made, it’s good to have a pair in your closet.
History Of Longwings
Longwings’ history is tied up in that of the brogue: coming into existence centuries ago in Ireland and Scotland, brogues were shoes made for wading in water; the perforations were actual holes that would allow liquid to drain from the shoe when exiting a body of water.
The longwing hit its stride in the 1970’s, especially with the brands Florsheim and Alden. In the United States especially, it’s commonly worn as a business professional shoe with suits and ties. While this belies the wingtip’s heritage as a country shoe, there are versions that have the slim proportions of a dress oxford that pair nicely with suiting.
It’s also common to see longwings with chunky, casual proportions like double leather soles with wide welts, rounded toe shapes, and large heels.
Today, the shoe retains its popularity across various reputable men’s shoe makers.
Go Long(wing): How To Wear These
Though they’re all brogues, not all longwings are created equal. Some are dressier than others, meaning that there are some that will pair beautifully with jeans and casual trousers, while there are others that are great with suits.
It seems like rudimentary advice, but it’s worth repeating: use your best judgement when getting dressed. Your gut will know, learn to trust it.
Longwings occupy the same general space on the formality scale as full brogues as they are simply a different version of a full brogue. Like brogues, their proportions can either be slim or chunky, and you should adjust your attire to sync with this as needed. Some suggestions are as follows:
- Jeans and casual trousers: Chunky longwings in suede or calfskin
- Country suits (flannels, tweeds, etc.): Chunky longwings with rubber sole, preferably Dainite
- Worsted wool suits: Slim longwings in calfskin or cordovan
Because longwings are made in every color from bone to black and in a wide selection of materials ranging from suede to nubuck and calfskin to cordovan, you can find a pair to fit an outfit twelve months out of the year.
Below, we offer some suggestions as to materials and colors by season. This list is not exhaustive, though, and we’d love to hear about anything else you’ve tried in the comments!
- Spring: Any shade of lighter brown leather or suede: tan, oatmeal, British tan, caramel, nutmeg, etc.
- Summer: White and off-white suede or leather (a longwing white buck is a great addition to a summer wardrobe)
- Autumn: Crimson or tobacco-colored leather
- Winter: Black, chocolate, and burgundy leather or cordovan
Top Longwing Manufacturers
For as iconic a shoe as the longwing is, they can be a little tough to track down; other brogue variations tend to be more widely available. We’ve assembled some of our favorites below:
- Samuel Windsor: $99
- Grant Stone: $350 (read our review of their Leo longwing here)
- Florsheim: $180-$225
- Allen Edmonds: $395-$650
Longwings: Purchase Or No?
If you’re a guy who lives on a steady diet of jeans and button-downs or sweaters, we can’t recommend a chunky longwing enough. The proportions sync beautifully with casual clothing, and the pinking and perforations of the shoe add a lot of visual interest to such outfits If you tend to dress up a bit more, look into a pair that’s a bit more sleek and streamlined.
Either way, a longwing is a good fifth or sixth shoe to add to a collection.